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Teacher Newsmagazine   Volume 24, Number 3, November/December 2011  

Health and safety: Joint occupational health and safety committees 

By Karen Langenmaier  

Eight-hour education entitlement

The following information provides language from the Workers Compensation Act with policies relating to the entitlement for eight–hour education leave for joint committee members.

It is clear that the employer is obligated to provide the release time as well as the costs of the training course and any reasonable associated costs. There is no language that says that the employer must provide the actual training.

The process for joint committee members to request health and safety training is also clearly laid out (see Prevention Policy below) and is based on the specific needs of the committee member relative to their workplace.

This office has received numerous e-mails and phone calls regarding members’ rights as to whether they need to take the training and education provided by the employer. The guiding principles of health and safety training and education are:

  • Based on inspections, risk assessments, and incident reports, what are the health and safety needs of the specific workplace?
  • What prior training/education has the joint committee member received?
  • What further training/education does the committee member require to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of a health and safety committee member?

Once these questions have been answered, the committee member then seeks training/education opportunities to provide the knowledge needed and follows the process outlined in the policy.

The BCTF health and safety program is an internal WCB education partner and provides health and safety training and education to administrators, support staff, and teachers. As an internal partner, the BCTF is not listed as an external educational partner, as training/education is provided only to committees associated with public education K–12.

1. Workers Compensation Act—Part 3, Division 4, Section 135—Educational leave 

135 (1) Each member of a joint committee is entitled to an annual educational leave totalling eight hours, or a longer period if prescribed by regulation, for the purposes of attending occupational health and safety training courses conducted by or with the approval of the Board.

(2) A member of the joint committee may designate another member as being entitled to take all or part of the member’s educational leave.

(3) The employer must provide the educational leave under this section without loss of pay or other benefits and must pay for, or reimburse the worker for, the costs of the training course and the reasonable costs of attending the course.

The above is an excerpt from the following website: http://tinyurl.com/3dlshcy 

2. Prevention Policy 

Members of joint health and safety committees are entitled to take time off from work to attend occupational health and safety training courses conducted by or with the approval of the Board.

Decisions as to when members will attend courses, what courses they will attend and at what time and place will normally be made as follows:

  • An individual member will bring his or her request to the committee.
  • If the committee agrees, the committee will forward the request to the employer.
  • If the committee does not agree, or is unable to come to a decision within a reasonable time, the individual member may forward the request to the employer.
  • Upon receiving a request from either the committee or the individual member, the employer will make its decision within a reasonable time. The employer will give reasons in writing where required by section 133. In making its decision, the employer must act in a manner consistent with the purpose and intent of section 135. Permission must not be unreasonably denied.

If a member of the committee considers that the employer is not allowing the member the leave to which she or he is entitled under section 135, the member may, after following the above process, complain to the board. The board will investigate the matter. If the employer does not pay a worker’s wages for leave taken under section 135, a complaint can be made to the board under section 152.

The above is an excerpt from WorkSafeBC’s website located at: http://tinyurl.com/44h5szj 

Karen Langenmaier, BCTF Income Security Division, Health and Safety 

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