Health and Safety Committees

 

 

Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee - Policy and Terms of Reference

1.  Policy Statement  

The Committee assists the University in attempting to achieve the highest reasonable standards of occupational Health and safety. In cooperation with faculty and staff, students and the University Administration, the Committee assists the University in creating and maintaining a safe and Healthy environment, and thereby responds to the requirement for a joint Health and safety committee as set out in the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The JOHSC functions as a steering committee, accountable to Acadia’s Executive Committee. The committee extends an outreach to the campus through various standing and ad hoc sub-committees. These are working groups that provide a broad base of health and safety participation and representation from across the University community.

2.  Membership

The Committee will be composed of approximately three voting members appointed by the University administration, and at least an equal number of voting members appointed by non-management employee groups. The actual size and composition of the Committee may vary slightly, within those parameters. AUFA, SEIU 902 and AUPAT shall each be represented as voting members of the Committee. Voting members will be representative of the various departments and the diverse University workplaces.

Building Services, Safety and Security, and Physical Plant shall each provide one ex-officio (non-voting) member to the Committee. Acadia Students' Union shall be invited to participate by also contributing an ex-officio member.    

The University's Health & Safety Advisor shall provide ongoing support to the Committee, as an ex-officio member.

3.  Roles & Responsibilities

The Committee shall:

  • recommend and advise on occupational health & safety policy and management system matters, on a University-wide basis;
  • evaluate and make recommendations on health and safety training, education and promotion, and monitor effectiveness;
  • annually review the Acadia University Health and Safety Policy and the Acadia University Health and Safety System, providing recommendations for improvement;
  • familiarize itself and the University community concerning new legislation and make recommendations for compliance;
  • participate in and/or receive summary reports of occurrence investigations and inspections;
  • participate in and/or receive reports of audits, workplace testing, and orders issued by NS Environment & Labour officers; with the University's support, maintain minutes of meetings and records of correspondence and activities;
  • develop and revise procedures necessary to carry out the Committee's functions, taking into account the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act;
  • coordinate and support the activities of the various health and safety sub- committees across campus by:
  • establish, reorganize or disperse sub-committees, as necessary;
    • establish sub-committee processes and procedures, as necessary;
    • provide sub-committee leadership;
    • delegate responsibility for detailed safety activities to the sub-committees and supporting their efforts; and
    • report on sub-committee activities at the regular Committee meetings.

4.  COMMITTEE PROCEDURES

4.1.  Membership Term

Voting members will normally serve a three-year term, and may be reappointed to serve subsequent terms. Should they choose to do so, employee groups and the University may name alternates who, in the absence of the appointed member, will have voting privileges and may fully participate in Committee activities.

Terms of membership for voting members should be staggered, so that approximately one third of the members fulfill their term in any given year. This approach provides continuity, yet allows opportunity for new members. The Safety Office shall maintain a "Chart of Membership Terms".

Ex-officio members have no specific term, and alternates may be designated to attend meetings.

Appointment of voting members shall occur in May of each year, to provide for a May - June overlap of newly-appointed and retiring members. The co-chairs are responsible for contacting the relevant parties in March, as required, to solicit their selections for new members.

4.2.  Chairpersons

The Committee shall have two Chairpersons selected from among the voting members. The non-management voting members shall select one of the Chairpersons and the voting members representing University Administration shall select the other.

The selection of Chairpersons shall occur annually, at the regular September meeting.

Chairpersons shall serve a one-year term, and may be reappointed to serve subsequent terms.

Meetings will be conducted by the Chairpersons, generally alternating monthly. In the absence of both Chairpersons, the members in attendance will select a voting member as acting Chair.

4.3.  Schedule of Meetings

The Committee will meet monthly a minimum of ten times a year, and at such other times as the Chairpersons may consider necessary. The schedule of regular meeting dates and times will be established each May and November. As much notice as is practical will be provided in the event that additional meetings are required.

Meetings may be re-scheduled as agreed to by the members.

4.4.  Agenda

The Safety Office shall prepare and distribute the agenda for regular meetings, on behalf of the Chairpersons. Every effort will be made to distribute the agenda to members at least two working days prior to the meeting.

Any member may place items on the agenda for discussion at a Committee meeting. When possible, members should advise the Safety Office in advance of the meeting to allow relevant documents to be circulated with the agenda.

4.5.  Attendance at Meetings

All members shall make an effort to attend all meetings or send an alternate. Regrets, if necessary, should be declared to the Safety Office well in advance of scheduled meetings.

4.6.  Decision-making

The Committee will normally seek to operate by consensus amongst the voting members, without the need for formal votes. Critical recommendations to the University and other significant decisions may, however, warrant a formal vote. Voting may also be necessary if the voting members cannot reach consensus on a matter.

Any member may request a formal vote on a matter before the Committee. Whenever practical, the intent to request a formal vote should be declared to the Safety Office in advance of a meeting, so that the agenda may advise members accordingly.

Voting members must be present in order to exercise voting privileges. When all voting members are present, a vote may be requested and executed during the same meeting. If all voting members are not present, notice of a vote shall be declared, and the vote shall be deferred until the next meeting.

When proper advance notice of a vote has been given, and when a sufficient number of members are present to establish a quorum, a motion will be carried when supported by one-half plus one of the members present.

4.7.  Quorum

At regular meetings, a quorum will be four of the appointed voting members, two representing University Administration and two representing non-management employee groups.

4.8.  Minutes

Minutes of all Committee meetings will be kept by the Recording Secretary (appointed by the University). For each action item, the person responsible and the target date for completion shall be recorded.

Within five working days following a meeting, the appointed Recording Secretary shall provide the draft minutes to the Safety Office for review.

Within ten working days following a meeting, the minutes shall be distributed to all members and posted on the University's Health and Safety website.

The Committee shall approve all minutes at the first meeting following the meeting for which the minutes were produced. Any changes necessary to the minutes shall be noted by the Secretary in the following minutes.

4.9.  Ad Hoc Sub-Committees

As required, the Committee will form various sub-committees that will serve as working groups. The sub-committees shall:

  • be sponsored by a voting member of the Committee;
  • be composed of an adequate number of persons to provide appropriate participation and representation from the designated departments/faculties;
  • conduct meetings in the same general manner as prescribed for the Committee;
  • provide support for the various University departments/faculties by assisting with such activities as inspections, hazard identification and control, the development of health and safety procedures, and follow-up on various health and safety matters;
  • maintain minutes, other records of health and safety activities and forward to the OHS officer.

4.10.  Responding to Work Refusals

As described by Section 43 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Committee may be asked to consider a work refusal raised by an employee of the University who believes that the concerns which prompted the refusal have not been adequately addressed by the employee's supervisor.

Upon learning of a work refusal requiring a Committee response, a member of the Committee will immediately notify a Chairperson and the Acadia Safety Office. Once the second Chairperson has been advised of the refusal, the Chairpersons shall schedule a special meeting of voting members, in cooperation with the Safety Office. That meeting shall be held at the earliest opportunity. Provided that basic quorum requirements are met, those voting members able to attend the special meeting will constitute the Committee, as described by section 43 the Act.

Having reviewed section 43 of the Act, and after thoroughly investigating the circumstances of the work refusal, the Committee will either unanimously advise the employee to return to work, or make such other written recommendations to the employee or the University as the Committee feels appropriate. If the employee is not unanimously advised by the Committee to return to work, and the refusal is still unresolved, the Chairpersons shall have the Safety Office immediately contact the NS Department of Environment and Labour to seek the assistance of a Health and Safety Officer.

The circumstances of all work refusals considered by the Committee, including decisions and recommendations, shall be documented by the Committee and kept on file by the Safety Office.

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Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee Objectives

Acadia's JOHSC has determined that the following objectives are a priority for consideration and action:

Short Term

  • H&S sub-committee function - ensure regular reporting from all sub-committees
  • Chemical safety, general lab safety, and biosafety - recommend improvements and monitor progress
  • H&S training - recommend and advise on a comprehensive Health and Safety Training Plan to meet the University's needs.
  • Fire Plan 
  • WHMIS (including the labeling of hazardous materials) - monitor compliance
  • First Aid, Asbestos Management
  • Restart Partnerships Audit

Long Term

  • Communication; increased awareness; promotion
  • Monitor and assist with compliance with H&S legislation
  • Ensure training opportunities are provided and that the University is compliant with legislation
  • Seek out, evaluate and make recommendations for best practice strategies for Health and Safety at Acadia University.

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