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Recently Enacted Regulations Impose New Health and Safety Requirements on Federally Regulated Businesses
On June 19, 2015, the Federal Government enacted the Policy Committees, Work Place Committees and Health and Safety Representatives Regulations. These Regulations impose new obligations on federally regulated businesses in respect of their health and safety committees or representative. The Regulations ensure that federally regulated workplaces are required to meet a similar standard to their provincial counterparts, which are subject to similar standards under provincial legislation. Some of the businesses affected by these regulations include those dealing in interprovincial trucking, railways, air transportation, marine shipping, telecommunications, banking, and First Nation businesses.
While such businesses are already required under the Canada Labour Code to have a Policy Committee, Work Place Committee or Safety Representative, the new Regulations impose further obligations on employers. In particular, the new requirements focus on composition of such committees and training for their members and include:
- Members of a committee representing the employer must exercise managerial functions (s. 4);
- Committee members must established chairperson responsibilities which must include certain mandatory responsibilities (s. 5);
- Vacancies on a committee must be filed within 60 days in the case of a Policy Committee and within 30 days in the case of a Work Place Committee (s. 6);
- Quorum for committee meetings is a majority of members with at least half being employee representatives and at least one being an employer representative (s. 7);
- As soon as possible after a committee meeting, minutes of the meeting must be provided to both chairpersons for approval, then provided to the employer and each member, then provided to any other relevant committees and made readily available to employees for a period of one month (s. 8);
- Employers must keep a copy of all committee meeting minutes at the employer’s head office for at least two years (s. 8); and
- Prior to March 1, the employer Chairperson of a Work Place Committee must submit to the Minister an annual report of the committee’s activities (s. 9).
Similar obligations dealing with the selection, term and vacancy of a Health and Safety Representatives are included in the Regulations (ss. 10-13).
In regards to training, employers must, in consultation with the committee or representatives affected, develop adequate health and safety training for all committee members and representatives. Training must include (1) a review of the Canada Labour Code and the regulations, (2) the means that allow committee members and representatives to fulfill their duties under the legislation, (3) the rules and procedures of each committee, and (4) the principles of consensus building regarding health and safety issues. Employers must review and update their health and safety training programs as necessary and at least once every three years, (s.14).