Health and safety committee member orientation.


Module 3.1 - Composition

The health and safety committee involves representatives from all levels of the organization including management and workers (via unions and associations) including:

  • the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO),
  • Association of Part-time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO),
  • Association of Part-time Professors of the University of Ottawa ILOB (APTPUO ILOB),
  •  Association of Part-time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO Faculté de droit),
  • Association of Part-time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO Toronto/Windsor),
  • local 772A of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE),
  • local 772B of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE),
  • lifeguard of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE),
  • local 2626 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE),
  • The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC),
  • the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (OSSTF), and
  • Non-Unionized Employee Association (NUEA).

Each union or association is responsible for appointing a representative to the various committees. It is possible that a single individual may be the union / association’s representative for all committees. There is no pre-set format that is required to name a member to a committee; each union or association is free to name a member as they see fit. The union / association may:

  • Hold an election internal to the union;
  • Have the executive committee appoint a member;
  • Have a specific position within the union may attend

As noted, the union / association is free to name whomever they see fit to represent their membership. In all cases, a member’s appointment is one calendar year (renewable). A list of members is posted on the virtual health and safety bulletin board.

Members attending health and safety committee meetings are considered to be at work and are entitled to

  • one hour or such longer period of time as the committee determines is necessary to prepare for each committee meeting;
  • such time as is necessary to attend meetings of the committee; and
  • such time as is necessary to carry out the member’s duties under subsections 26, 27 and 31 (conducting inspections and critical injury investigations).

Module 3.2 - Committees at uOttawa

The University has four (4) health and safety committees, with the University Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (known as the University Committee) serving as the overarching health and safety committee for the University. There are five functional sub committees.

The University committee is primarily concerned with university-wide issues, with emphasis on policy recommendations, activities which concern several sub committees and coordination of information received from the sub committees.

The sub committees are concerned with functional activities of that sector, namely:

  • Office Functional Occupational Health and Safety Committee – comprises computer laboratories, offices, classrooms, pools, common areas, kitchens, arenas, libraries, auditoriums, etc.

  • Laboratory Functional Occupational Health and Safety Committee – comprises specialized and technical employees from areas where scientific research, scientific experiments or preparation for scientific experiments are taking place. This will also include all areas which support laboratories.
  • Protection and Facilities Functional Occupational Health and Safety Committee – comprises all employees employed in Facilities and all employees employed in Protection Services, regardless of their principal work locations. The Facilities and Protection Committee is concerned with health and safety matters affecting the workplace of the employees employed in this sector, as well as those affecting University of Ottawa premises which are not within a specific building (for instance, parking lots and University-owned roadways, etc.).
  • Alta Vista Functional Occupational Health and Safety Committee – comprises all employees whose principal work location is at Roger Guindon and Peter Morand buildings.
  • Psychological Functional Occupational Health and Safety Committee – the broad mandate will permit be to allow for participation of the members concerning mental health and wellness at the University and to identify best practices concerning such matters for all employee groups.
  • Each committee has members appointed from the respective unions / associations within the functional workplace; the unions / associations for each committee (as well as the number of representatives) are listed in the Terms of Reference (PDF, 1MB). Resource personnel as well as non-voting personnel also attend the meetings. Guests may attend a committee meeting with advance consent from the co-chairs.

Module 3.3 - Committee meetings

Each committee is expected to have regular meetings at not less frequent that once every three months. This is a defined frequency under section 9; subsection 33 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Meetings may be more frequent; if the committee desires. In many cases, a committee will have 5 or 6 scheduled meetings per year, set at the beginning of calendar year; this allows for members to plan being in attendance. It is recommended that the day, time and location of the meeting is kept as consistent as possible. The Outlook calendar tool may be used to send invitations and schedule the meetings for the calendar year. Members personal email addresses may be used; however the generic email addresses for all unions and associations are also to be included in all health and safety related communications. Generic emails may be obtained from Risk Management.

Each meeting is chaired by one of the two co-chairs and is alternated from one meeting to the next. The worker co-chair is selected by, and from among the, worker members of the committee while the management co-chair is selected by management. A co-chair’s term is one calendar year (renewable).

In advance of the meeting, an agenda is prepared by the two co-chairs and sent to the members for feedback at least seven (7) days in advance of the meeting. Items may be added for discussion at the request of committee members. The agenda will be approved prior to the start of the meeting.  If additional items come up during the meeting, they may be added at the end of the meeting, time permitting. An agenda example is available online.

Each meeting will have minutes written by an elected secretary or the management co-chair. The minutes will be approved in advance of the subsequent meeting. The minutes will serve as a record of attendance and items discussed at the committee. The minutes should be written and circulated at the earliest convenience, which provides for an accurate description of items discussed. Members are encouraged to share minutes and engage their colleagues in health and safety matters. A template is available online. The minutes from the health and safety committees are available on the virtual health and safety bulletin board

Module 3.4 - Quorum

Before a meeting can begin, a quorum needs to be achieved. At uOttawa, quorum for a health and safety committee meeting is defined as the following:

  • At least 50% of the appointed / elected worker positions
  • 1 member of management
  • 1 co-chair

Additionally, there are other considerations that may affect quorum. For example, a position that has not been filled by the respective union / association (i.e. vacant position) is not counted towards quorum. In situations where a member is appointed, however has not attended for three consecutive meetings, their position will not count towards quorum. If this occurs, the union / association in default will be formally notified by the Office of the Chief Risk Officer that the appointed individual has not attended for three consecutive meetings. If the situation persists for 3 additional meetings, the union / association will be asked to reduce its number of representatives on the committee.

Module 3.5 - Meeting process

Once a quorum has been achieved, the presiding co-chair calls the meeting to order. Approval of the agenda will be requested, with one member moving for approval and a second member supporting the motion. If there are no objections or subsequent additions, the agenda is approved.

Next, the past meeting’s minutes are approved. Again, one member moves for approval and a second member supports the motion. If there are no objections or subsequent additions, the minutes are approved. If modifications to the previous minutes are required, they are noted on the current meeting minutes.

Any outstanding business is then addressed – this could include feedback on a matter from the minutes, an update on a specific situation, or follow-up from a particular event.

A brief summary of the recent accidents / incidents occurring within the committees’ realm of responsibility will be presented by the elected worker member. The summary is meant to report on the accidents / incidents that occurred and provide feedback on the corrective action that was instituted (as required). Particular time is devoted to critical injuries, occupational illnesses and intervention from the Ministry of Labour.

Next, a summary of the recent workplace inspections is provided to the committee. As part of a committee’s responsibility, the workplace is regularly inspected for hazards. An update is provided for the respective committees’ realm of responsibility as well as the entire University; the figure is expressed as a percentage of the total area of responsibility.

Following, a brief report from the University Committee is provided to the Functional Committee by the elected worker member. The worker member details to the Functional Committee what was discussed at the most recent University Committee.

Finally, any new business or other agenda items are addressed and discussed.

As noted, committees have the power to make recommendations to the employer. If a recommendation follows from the committee, the recommendation should be made on consensus and specific. Using the “5 W’s” helps to define the recommendation (why, who, what, where, when, etc.). Any recommendation has to be acknowledged by the employer in a reasonable timeframe; most responses require an answer within 21 days. If the committee has failed to reach a consensus about making recommendations, either co-chair of the committee has the power to make written recommendations to the employer.

It is the presiding co-chair’s responsibility to keep the discussion pertinent to the agenda items; if additional time warrants, additional items may be discussed at the end of the meeting.

Module 3.6 - Certified members

A certified member has additional rights and may institute a bilateral work stoppage (PDF, 715KB). This process is defined under section 45 of Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and at uOttawa. If a certified member has reason to believe that “dangerous circumstances” exist, the certified member would advise the supervisor of the area or worker who would conduct an investigation in the presence of the certified member. If the supervisor agrees that dangerous circumstances exist, corrective action is taken. If the supervisor does not agree, the opposite certified member is notified. If both members agree that dangerous circumstances exist, the certified members have the power to stop the work; corrective action is taken and the work stoppage is cancelled.

If both certified members do not agree, the Office of the Chief Risk Officer must be notified who will contact the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry of Labour will issue a written decision on the matter, with corrective action following (if necessary).

Although uOttawa only requires two (2) certified members, the university has made efforts to ensure that there are several worker and management certified members. Contact information for certified members may be obtained on the Office of the Chief Risk Officer website or by contacting the Office of the Chief Risk Officer at [email protected].