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Committee Membership


Procedural Handbook for School Safety Committees at Pembina Trails

A safety and health committee is an advisory body that helps to stimulate or raise awareness of health and safety issues in the workplace, recognizes and identifies workplace risks and develops recommendations for the employer to address these risks. To achieve its goal, the committee holds regular meetings and conducts regular workplace inspections and makes written recommendations to the employer for the improvement of the health and safety of workers.

The committee consists of labour and management representatives who meet on a regular basis to deal with health and safety issues. The advantage of a joint committee is that the in-depth practical knowledge of specific tasks (labour) is brought together with the larger overview of company policies, and procedures (management). Another significant benefit is the enhancement of cooperation among all parts of the work force toward solving health and safety problems.

How Many Members Must a Committee Have?

A safety and health committee is required in all workplaces that have 20* or more workers.  Each committee must have at least four, but not more than 12 members.

To determine the exact number of committee members, the employer must consult with the union(s) that
represents the workers, or if there is no union, with the workers themselves.  At least half of the committee members - the “worker members” - must represent workers who are not associated with the management of the workplace (e.g. the number of committee members representing management - the “employer members” - must not exceed those representing workers).

How are Workers Chosen for the Committee?

Safety and health committee members are typically chosen by the following method:

  • Employer provides a notice to all staff asking for volunteers from each union group present in the workplace.
  • If the committee can accommodate more than one volunteer from a union group then all volunteers are accepted.
  • If the committee cannot accommodate all the volunteers from one union group, then union members are asked to vote which member they would like to sit on the committee. 
  • If no staff members volunteer, then the union is asked to appoint a committee member from their group of representatives.
  • Management representatives are appointed by the employer.

The employer must not influence the election of the worker members. Any disputes regarding the election process may be referred to a safety and health officer of the Workplace Safety and Health Division of the Dept. of Labour.

Selection of Co-chairs:

Each committee must have two co-chairpersons. The management co-chair is chosen by the employer members on the committee and the worker co-chair is chosen by the worker members.

Terms of Office:

Committee members are elected to two-year terms (or a length set out in the union constitution).  Members may continue to hold office until reappointed or re-elected, or until a replacement is appointed or elected.  If at any time a committee member needs to resign their position prior to the end of the two-year term, then the above procedure for choosing a committee member will apply.

How Often do Committees Have to Meet?

In order to carry out its duties, the legislation requires a committee to hold meetings at least once every three months. However given the ten month timeline in a school division, committee meetings should be held during the following months:

  • Meeting 1:  September, October
  • Meeting 2:  November, December, January (considers Winter Break)
  • Meeting 3:  February, March, April (considers Spring Break)
  • Meeting 4:  May, June

The first meeting must be within one month after the committee is established. Committee members must be given at least three days notice that a meeting will be taking place.

Committee co-chairs or worker representatives can call special meetings to deal with urgent matters.

Do all Committee Members Have to be Present for a Meeting?

No. If some members cannot attend a meeting, the meeting can still take place. However, in order
for the committee to make decisions so that any actions can move forward, there must be a quorum.
This means at least half of the worker members and half of the employer members must be present.
Members not able to attend the meeting can have someone attend in their place in order to meet the
quorum. A person replacing an employer member can be chosen by the employer. A person replacing a
worker member must be chosen by the other worker members on the committee.

Does the Workplace Have to be Inspected Prior to each Meeting?

Inspecting the entire workplace at regular intervals is one of the key duties of the committee. For committee members, this means the entire workplace must be inspected, at least once every three months or four times a year. This is the minimum amount of of inspections that must occur during the year.  The size of the workplace, type of activities, number of workers, etc., would be some of the factors that would be taken into consideration by the employer and the representative when determining the frequency of inspections.  This means for higher risk areas, inspections may be required more frequently.  Committees should plan to inspect the workplace shortly before scheduled meetings.

An inspection is a planned walk-through of the workplace to identify safety or health hazards that may be present. An inspection may examine a selected work area or particular hazard, certain types of machinery, tools or equipment, or specific work practices.  Regular inspections have been shown to reduce injuries and illnesses and to improve the internal responsibility system. 

Note: The employer must provide all committee members time during their regular work hours to carry out their duties as a committee member.  This includes time for schedule inspections, investigations, training, committee meetings, etc.

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