People in row sitting writing notes in notebook.

Health and safety committee member orientation

Welcome to this short training intended to acclimate new health and safety committee members to their roles, responsibilities and duties while serving as a health and safety committee member at uOttawa.


Throughout this training, we will cover the health and safety committee structure at the University of Ottawa, the membership of the committee, its main functions, an introduction to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and its Regulations, investigations, workplace inspections and work refusals.

Before we begin, ask yourself a few basic questions…

  • Who do you represent on the committee? As we will see later, there are several groups represented on all health and safety committees; all of whom play varying roles.
  • Why did you join a health and safety committee?
  • What is your goal as a committee member?


Throughout this training, the following terminology will be used

Worker: means any of the following:

  1. a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation. This means a University employee and includes a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation. Students hired by the University to perform paid work-study program duties or co-operative education placement duties for the University are considered workers 
  2. a high school student who performs work or supplies services for no monetary compensation under a work experience program authorized by the school board that operates the school in which the student is enrolled
  3. a person who performs work or supplies services for no monetary compensation under a program approved by a college of applied arts and technology, university or other post-secondary institution.
  4. such other persons as may be prescribed who perform work or supply services to an employer for no monetary compensation. 

Supervisor: means a person who has charge of a workplace or authority over a worker or another person.  Depending on the workplace relationship, a supervisor may include, for example, the president, vice-presidents, directors, deans, managers or principle investigators.  The determination as to whether a person is a supervisor does not depend on that person’s job title.  It depends on whether the person is responsible for a location (for example, an office or laboratory) where the work is performed on a paid or unpaid basis or whether the person gives direction to complete the work performed by workers, students, visitors, volunteers or learners.

Employer: means the University or a person who employs a worker or contracts for the services of a worker, and includes a contractor or subcontractor who performs work or supplies services.  Examples of individuals who may be considered an employer under applicable health and safety legislation are the Board of Governors, the president, deans or directors.

Certified Member: A certified member means a committee member who is certified under section 7.6 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. A certified member has taken further, accredited training and has fulfilled the training requirements set forth by the Ministry of Labour. The University must have at least one worker and one management certified member. This is additional training and consists of two parts – an accredited theory-based health and safety training with Part 2 being an accredited sector-specific health and safety training. Any health and safety committee member may become a certified member. Speak with Risk Management for additional details on this process.

Ministry of Labour (MOL): means the regulating body for health and safety in Ontario. The MOL is also responsible for injury prevention strategies in the province; these were formerly conducted by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Internal Responsibility System (IRS): refers to the structure that everyone at the University of Ottawa is, in some way, responsible for health and safety. From the President to you who is taking this training, you have a role to play. Your role will obviously differ from others, but never forget that your part is an integral part of the University’s health and safety system.

Critical Injury: means an injury of a serious nature that,

  • Places life in jeopardy,
  • Produces unconsciousness,
  • Results in substantial loss of blood,
  • Involves the fracture of a leg or arm but not a finger or toe,
  • Involves the amputation of a leg, arm, hand or foot but not a finger or toe,
  • Consists of burns to a major portion of the body, or
  • Causes the loss of sight in an eye.

Occupational Illness:  a condition that results from exposure in a workplace to a physical, chemical or biological agent to the extent that the normal physiological mechanisms are affected and the health of the worker is impaired.

Dangerous Circumstances: means a situation in which,

  • A provision of the of the Occupational Health and Safety Act or the regulations is being contravened;
  • The contravention poses a danger or a hazard to a worker, and
  • The danger or hazard is such that any delay in controlling it may seriously endanger a worker.