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Health & Safety Representatives

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Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act) is built on the principle that workers and employers must work together to identify and resolve health and safety problems in the workplace. To meet this goal, health and safety representatives are required by law in a large number of Ontario workplaces [section 8(1)]. This document provides answers to commonly asked questions about health and safety representatives. What is a health and safety representative? A health and safety representative is a worker who, under section 8 of the Act, identifies health and safety problems at work and recommends ways to correct these problems. When is a health and safety representative required? As a general rule, a health and safety representative is required in any workplace where 6 to 19 workers are regularly employed, and where there is no joint health and safety committee (section 8). If your company employs 20 or more workers, you're likely required to have a joint health and safety committee. How must the representative be selected? The representative must be chosen by the workers, or by the union, if the workplace is unionized [section 8(6)]. What are the powers, functions and duties of a health and safety representative? The main role of the representative is to help improve health and safety conditions in the workplace. To this end, the representative has certain powers and functions: Identify workplace hazards This is usually done by inspecting the workplace. The Act states that the representative shall inspect the workplace at least once a month. Talking to workers about their health and safety concerns is another good way to identify hazards (Section 8). The representative plays an important role in supporting the Internal Responsibility System but they are not responsible to identify every hazard in the workplace. HEALTH AND SAFETY REPRESENTATIVES WSPS.CA

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