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 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 terms solutions.
The following information and resources have been developed to streamline and strengthen SUN’s NAC process, as well as assist Local NAC Chairs in understanding and navigating their role in representing member concerns.
Role of the Local OH&S Represenative
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 process and location of Incident Report forms for reporting safety concerns or situations of potential or actual harm.
- Advise members of facility/Employer policies and protocols for a Code White.
- Receive member concerns regarding workplace safety.
- Confirm members utilize low level resolution to raise concerns with Employer and address matters in real time.
- Investigate and follow up on members concerns raised.
- Attend workplace Occupational Health Committee (OHC) meetings as scheduled.
- Present and provide recommendations to address member concerns or hazards identified to OHC.
- Develop and maintain local communication channels regarding OH&S.
- Provide OH&C report during local meetings.
- Update Local President/Local Executive on OH&S activity – they may be able to provide you with additional information, guidance or assistance in addressing issues.
- 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 facility or on 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 in which to address the concern – is it labour relations, occupational health safety, or professional practice? Understanding the differences between the categories will assist you as the Local OH&S Representative and the member in determining the best course of action to address the issue raised.
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 a:
- Breach of Collective Agreement.
- Violation of member’s rights.
- Breach or change in application of Employer policy/procedure.
In 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 (low level resolution). If the informal discussion does not result in a resolution, the next course of action maybe the filing of 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 one’s manager. If the issue remains unresolved or ongoing, the course of action taken will be 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 in finding a resolution is to speak to the immediate supervisor/manager (low level resolution). However, regardless of whether the incident is resolved or not, 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.
It is important for all Employees 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 require one, two or all three processes being triggered in an effort to adequately address the matter.
Local OH&S Representative Tool Kit
- Local OH&S Representative Tool Kit
- 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 (edittable PDF)
To order copies of the above resources, please complete and submit a SUN Publications Order Form.
Represenative & 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 (5) days of educational leave (paid work time) each year to acquire such training. The general Level 1 and Level 2 OHC courses are available through WorkSafe Saskatchewan (www.worksafe.ca).
However, workplace safety within a healthcare environment is unique. The SASWH provides safety training specific for employees, supervisors, employers and committee members working in healthcare. 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)
- More available at www.sash.ca