The role of the Local OH&S Representative goes beyond what is prescribed within the Saskatchewan Employment Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations for a workplace representative. You are the local’s go-to person regarding the health and safety process and play a key role in educating and guiding members effectively through the process, as well as taking an active role in finding appropriate long-term solutions.
The following information and resources have been developed to streamline and strengthen SUN’s NAC process and help Local NAC Chairs in understand and navigate their role representing member concerns.
Role of the Local OH&S Representative
The role the Local OH&S Representative includes but is not limited to:
- Receive education and training regarding health and safety.
- Ensure members have access to OH&S education, policies, legislation.
- Ensure members are aware of the process and the location of Incident Report forms for reporting safety concerns or situations of potential/actual harm.
- Advise members of facility/Employer Code White policies and protocols.
- Receive member concerns regarding workplace safety.
- Confirm members utilize low-level resolution to raise concerns with Employer and address matters quickly.
- Investigate and follow-up on members' concerns.
- Attend workplace Occupational Health Committee (OHC) meetings.
- Present to OHC recommendations to address member concerns or identified hazards.
- Develop and maintain Local communication channels regarding OH&S.
- Provide OH&C reports during Local meetings.
- Update Local President/Local Executive on OH&S activity – they may be able to provide additional information, guidance or assistance.
- Promote awareness of workplace safety and well-being.
- As a member of the OHC, participate in investigations and/or inspections as required.
- Ensure minutes from OHC meetings are posted in the facility or on a OH&S bulletin board.
- Refer matters to Local President (labour relations) and/or Local Nursing Advisory Chair (professional practice), as required.
Seek guidance from Employment Relations Officer (ERO) at SUN Provincial, as needed.
Labour Relations, Professional Practice or OH&S?
Workplace issues are complex, and it can be difficult to determine the appropriate process through which to address a concern – is it labour relations, occupational health and safety, or professional practice? Understanding the differences between each category helps the Local OH&S Representative and the member determine the best way to address the issue.
It is important to note that while the primary concern may fall into one of three categories, the underlying factors or root cause(s) may be addressed through a parallel course(s) of action.
Labour Relations issues are defined as:
- Breach of Collective Agreement;
- Violation of a member’s rights; and/or,
- Breach or change in the application of Employer policy/procedure.
When addressing workplace concerns or violations of the collective agreement, the goal is to find ways to resolve the situation without requiring a formal and confrontational process. If the informal discussion (low-level resolution) does not result in a solution, the next step may be filing an individual or policy grievance.
Professional Practice issues are identified as:
- Nursing practice concerns;
- Safety of patients and registered nurses;
- Workload/staffing levels/patient acuity; or,
- Other factors which negatively affect patient care.
The first step in addressing Professional Practice issues is to engage in low-level resolution with the manager responsible. If the issue continues, the next step is to file a Work Situation Report (WSR) and initiate the Joint Nursing Advisory Process.
Occupational Health & Safety
Occupational Health and Safety hazards or concerns are defined as actions or incidents which impact the health, safety, and welfare of an employee or group of employees.
Similar to the processes identified under labour relations or professional practice, when a workplace hazard or safety concern is raised, the first step is to speak to the immediate supervisor/manager (low-level resolution). However, regardless of whether the incident is resolved, an Incident Report should be filed with the Employer and the OH&S Committee, as the incident may also prompt the filing of a WSR or WCB claim.
All Employees need to be familiar with their Employer’s/facility’s process for reporting and/or documenting an incident.
Parallel Course of Action
Depending on the situation, an incident may trigger one, two or three processes to adequately address the matter.
Local OH&S Representative Tool Kit
- Local OH&S Representative Tool Kit (May 2022)
- Local OH&S Flow Chart for Immediate Risk Situations
- Local OH&S Flow Chart for Potential Risk Situations
- OH&S Fact Sheet (for print)
- OH&S Fact Sheet (editable PDF)
To order copies of the above resources, please complete and submit a SUN Publications Order Form.
Representative & Committee Training
It is the Employer’s responsibility to ensure that committee co-chairs and representatives are trained to properly meet their obligations under the Act and Regulations. Under the Act, committee members and representatives are provided five days of educational leave (paid work time) each year to acquire this training. The general Level 1 and Level 2 OHC courses are available through WorkSafe Saskatchewan (www.worksafe.ca).
However, workplace safety in a healthcare environment is unique. The SASWH provides safety training specific to healthcare employees, supervisors, employers and committee members. Training provided by the SASWH includes but is not limited to:
- Occupational Health Committee (OHC) Training and Support;
- Incident Reporting & Investigation;
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
- Professional Assault Response Training (PART);
- Safety for Supervisors;
- Safety Management System (SMS);
- Workplace Assessment Violence Education (WAVE);
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS); and,
- More available at www.saswh.ca.