The employer must make sure that the workers (or their union) select at least one Health and Safety Representative (H & S Rep) from among the workers regularly employed at the workplace who do not have managerial duties.
If the workplace has 20 workers or more (and, in the case of a construction project, the work is expected to last longer than 3 months), the employer must establish a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) with representatives from both workers and management.

Duties

The main duty of a H & S Rep is to inspect the workplace at least once a month, as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). These inspections help the H & S Rep identify hazards at the workplace.
If a monthly inspection of the entire workplace is not practical, then the law allows the H & S Rep to inspect part of the workplace each month, with the whole workplace covered at least once a year.
Powers H & S Reps have the power to do the following: • Identify potential hazards at the workplace. • Make recommendations or report findings about these hazards to the employer, other workers, and any trade union representing workers. • Be present during an investigation of a work refusal. • Inspect the scene of a critical injury or death, and report the findings to a Ministry of Labour (MOL) Director. • Get information from the employer about testing of equipment or materials at the workplace. (When a hazard is suspected at the project, it is often necessary to carry out tests.) • Be consulted about testing and be present to ensure test results are valid.
H & S Reps can become involved in other activities related to health and safety such as the following: • Help the employer develop the company’s health and safety policy and program. • Promote employee support of the company’s health and safety policy and program. • Help develop health and safety rules and standards. • Perform job safety or job hazard analyses. • Assess the safety of new equipment, procedures, or materials. • Train workers on health and safety.
The employer may want to make these powers and activities a part of the H & S Rep’s regular work duties and may even include them in a collective agreement.

As a Health and Safety Representative, what are my three main tasks?


Recognizing hazards

Hazards are not always obvious, but recognizing them is the first step in controlling them. Here are some things that can help you: • Experience • Health and safety training • Knowledge of the OHSA and regulations that are specific to the workplace • Asking workers and supervisors what they think • Being alert and using all of your senses.
As a Health and Safety Representative, what are my three main tasks?


Assessing hazards

Once you have identified a hazard, you need to evaluate its severity. Hazards that are more likely to happen or are more likely to cause a serious injury should be dealt with more urgently. • Identify any best practice safety rules that apply to the hazard. • Find out things such as: How many workers may be exposed to the hazard? How long could they be exposed? What are the exposure limits? What are the effects of prolonged exposure? What precautions are recommended in the safety data sheet (SDS)? • Determine whether the hazard could be made worse because of other factors such as weather, backing vehicles, or a busy workplace.
Remember that although health hazards such as exposure to asbestos or silica may seem less urgent than safety hazards, they can have more serious outcomes if you do not control them.


Recommending controls

Finding the best solution to control the hazard sometimes depends on where you would apply the control. The best place is “At the Source”. If you can’t do that, control it “Along the Path” to the worker. If that is not possible, control it “At the Worker”. • At the Source – Eliminate the hazard (e.g., change the work process). – Use a safer substitute (e.g., change the tools or equipment). – Enclose or isolate the hazard (e.g., use barriers). • Along the Path – Prevent the worker from getting to the hazard (e.g. use guardrails). – Prevent the hazard from getting to the worker (use ventilation, welding screens, lockout and tagging, etc.). • At the Worker – Use personal protective equipment (PPE) (e.g., fall arrest, protective eyewear, respirator). – Use warning signs or devices. – Train workers on the hazard and put safety rules in place. – Rotate job tasks between multiple workers to reduce exposure.