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Appendix B: Questions and Answers for School Boards and Schools

  • Issued: April 20, 2012
  • Content last reviewed: April 2012

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Note: Ontario Regulation 857 (Teachers) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) extends the application of the OHSA to teachers, with certain modifications and/or exemptions.

1. Is a Minister’s order under subsection 9(3.1) of the OHSA required if a school board wishes to establish a multi-workplace JHSC for its entire teaching staff?

While a school board may request an order under subsection 9(3.1) permitting a multi-workplace JHSC for teachers only, this is not required. Paragraph 2 of section 3 of Regulation 857 provides that an employer of teachers (i.e., a board) that establishes and maintains one joint health and safety committee (JHSC) for all of its teachers is deemed to have complied with subsection 9(2) of the Act – which means that the board does not require the Minister’s approval under 9(3.1) to establish a multi-workplace JHSC with respect to all its teachers. However, it would be a good practice to ensure that written agreed to terms of reference and/or policies and procedures are in place to ensure that the multi-workplace JHSC functions properly and the Act is being complied with.

However, should the school board wish to establish a multi-workplace JHSC with respect to all workers (i.e., including non-teaching staff) at all of its workplaces, then a Minister’s order would be required. A Terms of Reference agreed to by the workplace parties would have to be submitted with the request to the Regional Director. Where there are concerns relating to the functioning of a multi-workplace JHSC, the subsection 9(3.1) order may be rescinded or otherwise amended by the Minister of her delegate. Other options may also be available. Inspectors should consult with their RPC/Manager and Regional Director.

2. Can a school board establish one multi-workplace JHSC with respect to both its elementary and secondary school teachers under Regulation 857?

Paragraph 2 of section 3 of Regulation 857 refers to the establishment and maintenance of a JHSC for all the employer’s (i.e., the board’s) teachers. As such, a JHSC established under Regulation 857 must include both elementary and secondary teachers employed by the board.

3. Does the Ministry of Labour require a Terms of Reference document for teacher multi-workplace JHSCs?

Terms of Reference are not specifically required where a board establishes a multi-workplace JHSC for all its teachers under Regulation 857. However, it would be a good practice to ensure that written agreed to terms of reference and/or policies and procedures are in place to ensure that the multi-workplace JHSC functions properly and the Act is being complied with.

4. Can non-teaching staff be a part of the teacher multi-workplace JHSC established under the Teachers Regulation?

No, since paragraph 2 of section 3 of Regulation 857 (Teachers) only applies in respect of a JHSC for all teachers, not all workers employed by a school board.

MOL approval is needed when school boards wish to establish a multi-workplace JHSCs representing both non-teaching and teaching staff.

If a board wishes to establish a multi-workplace JHSC that includes both teachers and non-teaching staff, a Minister’s Order under subsection 9(3.1) of the OHSA is required with a written terms of reference agreed to by all interested parties representing both management and workers. Where there are concerns relating to the functioning of a multi-workplace JHSC, the subsection 9(3.1) order may be rescinded or otherwise amended by the Minister of her delegate. Other options may also be available. Inspectors should consult with their RPC/Manager and Regional Director.

5. Is a minister’s order under subsection 9(3.1) of the OHSA required if a school board wishes to establish a multi-workplace JHSC for its non-teaching staff (e.g., janitors, administrative assistants)?

Yes, a Minister’s order under subsection 9(3.1) of the OHSA would be required for a school board to establish a multi-workplace JHSC with respect to non-teaching staff only. Paragraph 2 of section 3 of Regulation 857 (Teachers) does not apply to non-teachers at schools.

6. Does a school board have to have a multi-workplace JHSC?

No. A school board can comply with the requirements of the OHSA by ensuring that a JHSC is established and maintained at each of its workplaces where required by subsection 9(2) (i.e., generally at a workplace with 20 or more regularly employed workers -including teaching and non-teaching staff).

7. If there is a separate multi-workplace JHSC set up for teaching staff under Regulation 857, who is counted at each workplace for the purpose of forming a JHSC under section 9 or the OHSA?

If a school board has a JHSC in place for all of its teachers under Regulation 857, when determining whether an additional JHSC is required at an individual school or workplace at that board for non-teaching staff, the teaching staff are not to be counted.

8. How does paragraph 2 of section 3 of Regulation 857 (Teachers) permitting a school board to maintain one JHSC for all of its teaching staff impact on the requirements of section 9 of the OHSA which sets out requirements regarding workplace inspections by the JHSC?

A school board’s decision to have just one JHSC for all of its teachers does not have the effect of converting all of the schools and other workplaces of the Board into a single workplace for the purposes of regular workplace inspections.

Subsections 9(26) and (27) of the OHSA require that workplaces be inspected by a worker member of the JHSC, at least in part, once a month. In other words, even where a board has a permitted Multi-workplace JHSC, each school or other workplace (or part of it if subsection 9(27) applies) would still be required to be inspected monthly. In situations where a multi-workplace JHSC has been established under a Minister’s order under subsection 9(3.1), that order may provide that the worker members of the JHSC may designate a worker who doesn’t have to be a member of a Committee to conduct the monthly workplace inspections.

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Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.