Labour & Regulatory Services - Workplace, Safety & Health

FAQs: Safety and Health Committees


In Manitoba, workplaces with 20 or more employees are required to have a safety and health committee. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about legislative requirements for workplace safety and health committees.

Safety and Health Committees Topics:

Topics on this page:
Attendance | Training & Education | Responsibilities | Choosing Committee Members | Consulting Committee Members | Investigating Incidents | Inspecting the Workplace


Attendance

  • What are the rules governing what it means to be a “guest” at a committee meeting? Can someone invite themselves to a committee meeting?

    The Act does not provide detailed procedures about the operation of a safety and health committee, it sets out key requirements only. Other than the requirements in the Act, a committee is free to decide its own procedures. It can be useful for a committee to create terms of reference and written procedures about the operation of the committee. One topic for consideration would be a procedure for the attendance of resource persons or other guests at committee meetings.
  • Are supervisors required to take all reasonable steps to ensure worker members can attend committee meetings?

    Yes. Supervisors need to be trained and/or instructed by the employer to ensure they take all reasonable steps to allow the worker member time away from their regular duties to attend committee meetings.
    Section 40(11) was recently added to the Actto clarify that committee members are entitled to take the following time off from their regular duties:
    • One hour to prepare for each committee meeting (could be longer if the committee determines necessary);
    • The time required to attend a committee meeting;
    • The time required to attend workplace safety and health training (see section 44 of the Act), as approved by the committee and the employer;
    • Such time as the committee determines necessary to carry out their duties as committee members.
  • Are workplace safety and health committees required to ensure they have at least an equal or greater number of worker members than employer members at each meeting?

    No. Part 3 of the WSH Regulation speaks to quorum at meetings as:  “The quorum of a committee is one-half of the worker members and one-half of the members appointed by the employer or the prime contractor.”

    For example, if a committee had 6 employer members and 6 workers members, quorum for a committee meeting would require at least 3 employer members and 3 worker members to be present. Therefore:
    • If 4 employer members and 3 worker members attended the meeting, quorum would be met.
    • If 4 worker members attended and 3 employer members attended, quorum would be met.
    • If 2 worker members and 3 employer members attended the meeting, quorum would not be met.
    • If 2 employer members and 3 worker members attended the meeting, quorum would not be met.

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Training and Education

  1. Is the employer obligated to provide at least 2 days of training annually to committee members?
    Under section 44 of the Act, every employer (except an employer on a construction project or at a seasonal workplace) must allow each member of the committee, the safety and health representative, or their respective designates, to attend safety and health training.

    The amount of time that must be allowed is the number of hours the worker normally works during two shifts, or 16 hours, whichever is greater.

    This training must be allowed to take place without loss of pay or benefits.

    The safety and health training seminars, programs or courses of instruction can be those offered by Workplace Safety and Health, approved by the workplace safety and health committee, or provided for in the collective bargaining agreement at the workplace (if any).

    At construction projects with five or more workers, all workers must attend 30 minutes of safety talks every 2 weeks.
    At a seasonal workplace where the work is expected to last more than 90 days and where an average of 20 or more workers are working, all workers must attend 30 minutes of safety talks every 2 weeks.

    In addition to the above training, sections 40(13) and 41(8) of the Act require committee members and worker representatives to be trained to competently fulfill their duties. The level of training required to ensure competence will vary, depending on the complexity of the task, the nature of the work, for example. It is up to each employer or prime contractor to determine what training will be sufficient to ensure the members can competently fulfill their committee duties.
  2. Is someone who works a 12 hour shift entitled to 24 hours of paid training while someone who works a 7.5 hour shift is only entitled to 15 hours of paid training?
    No. Section 44(1.1) of the Actstates: “The amount of time allowed for educational leave … is the greater of 16 hours and the number of hours the worker normally works during two shifts.” The worker who works 12 hours per shift is entitled to 24 hours of paid training. The worker who works 7.5 hours per shift is entitled to 16 hours, not 15 hours, as the Act sets 16 hours as a minimum.
  3. There are no 12 hour training courses available so if someone on a 12 hour shift goes to a 7.5 hour course on a day s/he is scheduled to work, is the employer required to pay him/her for 12 hours?
    Yes. However, the employer can require that worker to return to work for the remaining 4.5 hours. Either way, the worker is entitled to pay for 12 hours.
  4. Is the employer required to pay the worker for the time spent travelling to the course because it is legislated training?
    The Act and WSH Regulations do not require the employer to pay for travel time, so it would be up to each employer to establish a policy in that regard.
  5. What rate of pay is the worker entitled to: regular pay or overtime?
    Section 4(6) of the Act requires that all time spent training is to be paid as if the worker were performing their regular duties. Therefore, if a worker attends training that puts him or her into an overtime situation, the Act requires the worker be paid at the premium rate. The Employment Standards Code or the collective agreement at the workplace would determine whether the worker is in an overtime situation.
  6. Is an employer required to provide a company car for employees to attend this training and also reimburse them for meal expenses?
    The Act and WSH Regulations do not require the employer to provide a company car or reimburse an employee for their meal expenses, so it would be up to each employer to establish a policy in that regard.
  7. Is an employer required to provide a company car for employees to attend this training and also reimburse them for meal expenses?
    The Act and WSH Regulations do not require the employer to provide a company car or reimburse an employee for their meal expenses, so it would be up to each employer to establish a policy in that regard.

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Responsibilities

  1. Is the committee responsible for “policing” the workplace safety and health policies, etc.?
    No. The committee’s role is to review workplace safety and health concerns which have not been resolved at the supervisor level and have then been brought to the committee for discussion. These discussions are documented in the committee meeting minutes so all workers are aware of the actions being taken to address the concern. The committee’s role is to “advise” the employer about workplace safety and health concerns and put forth recommendations.

    The employer is not required to follow the recommendations of the committee if they believe alternative corrective measures will address the safety and health concerns. Section 41.1(2) of the Act states that the employer must respond in writing to the committee within 30 days. Section 41.1(3) further states that this response must contain specific information, including any interim control measures the employer implements and reasons why the employer disagrees with any recommendations. Ultimately, it is the employer’s responsibility to address the concerns and it is the employer who decides what corrective measures will be implemented to address the safety and health concerns.

    Finally, as outlined in section 41.1(4), if no agreement can be reached regarding the response of an employer, then any of the parties are welcome to contact our office so that it can be referred to a safety and health officer.

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Choosing Committee Members

  1. Can an employer or a Workplace Safety and Health Officer choose a worker to sit on the committee as a “worker member” if no workers are nominated or come forward by choice?
    Although the Act requires the employer to establish a committee in all workplaces with 20 or more regular workers, the employer cannot direct any particular worker to sit as a worker member of the committee.

    In the event there are no volunteers for the committee, some strategies which can be used to encourage people to come forward, include:

    1. Providing some basic information about the committee so workers can understand the role;
    2. Reinforce that workers will be paid for time spent fulfilling the duties on the committee; and
    3. Reassure workers that they will receive basic training on the committee and its functions.

    Employers faced with this situation may wish to contact the Workplace Safety and Health Branch for further assistance.

  2. Can workers, either through their collective bargaining process or by virtue of a democratic voting process, choose a charge-hand or supervisor as a worker representative for the safety and health committee?
    Yes. The intent of section 40(8)(a)(i) and (ii) of the Act is to ensure equal representation on the committee of employer members and worker members, that is persons representing workers not associated with management.
    The collective agreement and/or an open and democratic vote of workers represents the will of the workers. Workers have the right to choose to elect a charge-hand or supervisor to be their worker representative on the safety and health committee.

    Workers should be reminded that if they choose a supervisor or a person with authority over workers at the workplace, as a worker representative, it can create confusion amongst workers when it comes to the process of resolving safety and health concerns at the supervisor level.

  3. Can an employer appoint employer members to the committee?
    Yes. Section 40(8) of the Act outlines the membership of the committee and provides for workers to choose their worker members.  However, the Act is silent on who an employer may appoint as an employer member of the committee. Therefore, an employer can appoint the employer members of the committee without an election. It is also not uncommon for employer members of the committee to also be union members.
  4. In a workplace with multiple unions, can one union disallow another union’s choice of a supervisor as a worker member?
    No. Section 40(8)(a)(ii) of the Act states that committee members must be appointed in accordance with the constitution of the union that has bargaining rights on behalf of the workers in the workplace.
    Therefore, each union has the right to follow their own rules for electing members for the committee from the group of workers they represent without interference from another union.
  5. Are committee co-chair(s) alternates chosen by the co-chairs themselves or by the committee members?
    Section 40(8)(b) of the Act states that the committee members choose their co-chairs. Therefore, unless otherwise outlined in the committee’s Terms of Reference, or policies and procedures manual, it is reasonable that the committee members, and not the co-chair(s), would choose the co-chair alternates.

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Consulting Committee Members

  1. Is an employer required to consult the workplace safety and health committee when developing policies, such as the Harassment Prevention Policy, etc.?
    Section 40(10) of the Act outlines the duties of the committee to include the development and promotion of measures to protect the safety and health and welfare of persons in the workplace, and checking the effectiveness of such measures; the development and promotion of programs for education and information concerning safety and health in the workplace.

    The WSH Regulation requires the safety and health committee to be consulted during the development of harassment and violence prevention policies. This consultation requires meaningful input from the committee requiring the committee to be given the opportunity to review the policies and provide feedback about them.

    The safety and health committee is expected to be consulted on all policies pertaining to safety and health. The safety and health committee does not need to be consulted on policies that do not pertain to safety and health, such as human resources policies, attendance etc.

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Investigating Incidents

  1. Does an incident of violence that could have resulted in a serious incident need to be investigated by the committee co-chairs?
    If the violent event results in a serious incident, as defined in Part 2 of the Workplace Safety and Health Regulation, Workplace Safety and Health must be notified immediately and the committee co-chairs must investigate.
    If the violent event does not meet the criteria for a serious incident, but caused a worker to require medical treatment, or could likely have caused a serious incident, Workplace Safety and Health does not need to be notified, but the committee co-chairs must still investigate.

    Under Part 11 of the Workplace Safety and Health Regulation, all incidents of violence must be investigated by the employer. However, the employer does not have to conduct two separate investigations if a serious incident occurs. The employer co-chair (or designate) would participate in the serious incident investigation with the worker co-chair (or designate).

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Inspecting the Workplace

  1. Is the committee required to inspect the entire workplace at least once every 90 days?
    Yes. Part 3.2.2 of the Workplace Safety and Health Regulation states: “The members of a committee must inspect the workplace and the work processes and procedures at the workplace at least once before each regularly scheduled meeting of the committee.”

    If a committee meets more often than the required “at least once every 90 days”, the expectation is not that the entire workplace is inspected in this period. It is acceptable for the committee to inspect a portion of the workplace each month, for example, as long as the entire workplace has been inspected by the committee at least once every 90 days. It is also not an expectation that the “entire” committee inspects the “entire” workplace as a group.

    If the committee’s inspection schedule does not meet these requirements, but they believe they are adequately serving the needs to identify the workplace safety and health concerns in their workplace, they may apply to Workplace Safety and Health for a regulatory exemption, which if granted, would allow them to carry on their committee inspections according to the agreed upon schedule.
  2. What is the difference between “committee inspections” and “regular workplace inspections” that the employer is required to conduct “regularly”?
    Committee inspections are required in Part 3.2.2 of the WSH Regulation, as follows: “The members of a committee must inspect the workplace and the work processes and procedures at the workplace at least once before each regularly scheduled meeting of the committee.”

    These “committee inspections” must be performed with one or more “worker members” of the committee along with the “employer members”. This is to ensure that the committee is fulfilling its duties as outlined in Part 40(10)(h) of the Act (“the inspection of the workplace at regular intervals”). It is not an expectation that the “entire” committee perform these inspections of the entire workplace as a group.

    Regular workplace inspections are required in Part 2.4(1) of the WSH Regulation as follows:
  3. Inspections of workplace - 2.4(1) An employer must (a) ensure that regular inspections of the workplace and of work processes and procedures at the workplace are conducted to identify any risk to the safety or health of any person at the workplace; and (b) if a risk is identified, correct any unsafe condition as soon as is reasonably practicable and, in the interim, take immediate steps to protect the safety and health of any person who may be at risk.

    These inspections are not carried out by the committee, but rather by the employer or someone acting on behalf of the employer.


Contact the Workplace Safety & Health Branch

Phone: 204-957-SAFE  (7233)
Toll-free: 1-855-957-SAFE (7233)
www.manitoba.ca/labour/safety/

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