Committees made up of union and employer appointed representatives need to be established in every workplace that normally directly employs 20 workers or more, according to Section 135 of the Canada Labour Code Part II.
Policy health and safety committees must be established where an employer has 300 or more employees. This committee takes a more strategic approach to health and safety in an organization by dealing with global issues.
While some employers try to limit the size of these committees, it's important that the committee have a represenative on it from every part of the workplace.
The union should ensure its workplace committee reps get training.
Employees that know their rights are more likely to bring any problems they see to the union's attention.
Employees also need to know the process for dealing with health and safety issues.
Each PSAC local should establish a health and safety committee of its own. The committee can have members of the workplace health and safety committee on it but should include others as well.
The union committee can
- identify issues to bring to the workplace committee.
- look at issues in the workplace to bring up in bargaining
- be the eyes and ears for union representatives on the workplace committee and the local executive.
If there are particular issues - indoor air quality, ergonomics etc - it may be worth setting up a special committee on that issue.