Section 137, Work Place Health and Safety Committees and Representatives - 907-1-IPG-051

Effective Date: October 2010

1. Purpose

This IPG interprets the following section of the Canada Labour Code, Part II, and describes actions to be taken by a Health and Safety Officer (HSO) in applying this section.

137. Notwithstanding sections 135 and 136, if an employer controls more than one work place referred to in section 135 or 136 or the size or nature of the operations of the employer or those of the work place precludes the effective functioning of a single work place committee or health and safety representative, as the case may be, for those work places, the employer shall, subject to the approval or in accordance with the direction of a health and safety officer, establish or appoint in accordance with section 135 or 136, as the case may require, a work place committee or health and safety representative for the work places that are specified in the approval or direction.

2. Issue

Section 137 addresses the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1 - Single Work Place

If a HSO determines that due to the size or nature of the operations of the employer or those of the work place, that a single Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Committee/ Representative is not functioning effectively, s. 137 allows the HSO to direct the employer to establish additional OHS Committees/Representatives.

Scenario 2 - Multiple Work Places

If an employer controls more than one work place, but for logistical or administrative reasons wants to establish a single OHS Committee/Representative for these work places, s. 137 allows the employer to do this, but only with the approval of a HSO. (For the purposes of this IPG, these will be called Multi-Work Place Committees/Representatives (MWPC/R).

3. Background

Section 137 is important because s. 122.(1) of the Code defines "work place" as "…any place where an employee is engaged in work for the employee's employer." Since this definition is not based on geography or other specific criteria, there is a great deal of flexibility in determining what constitutes a work place, (for example, a work place could be several buildings in different locations of a city, or even in different cities).

Section 137 allows the HSO to use performance based criteria to determine if the requirements of an OHS Committee/Representative have been met. This approach reinforces the importance of the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) by allowing the HSO to make a determination based on the ability of the OHS Committee/Representative structure to fulfill its role, and to require changes if the structure is not effective.

4. Evaluation of Scenario 1

Determination that the size or nature of a single work place precludes the effective functioning of a single OHS Committee/Representative

The above determination shall take into account the following factors:

  1. the number of employees in the work place;
  2. the size of the OHS Committee, and its employee composition;
  3. the range of tasks performed by the employees and the hazards associated with these tasks;
  4. the number and severity of hazardous occurrences;
  5. the physical size of the work place and the ability of the OHS Committee/Representative to effectively conduct regular inspections, and participate in hazardous occurrence investigations;
  6. the results of the Work Place Committee Evaluation Report in Appendix I of OPD 907-1, Mandatory Policy Committees, Work Place Committees and Health and Safety Representatives - Part II of the Canada Labour Code.

If after considering the above, a HSO determines that the size or nature of the operations of the employer or those of the work place prelude the effective functioning of a single OHS Committee/Representative, he shall direct the employer to establish additional Committees or Representatives, as the case may be.
(See Appendix A - Declaration)

5. Evaluation of Scenario 2

Reviewing an Employer's request to approve a MWPC/R for more than one work place

If an employer requests HSO approval for a MWPC/R, the HSO shall make his determination based on the following criteria:

5.1 Terms of Reference

The HSO shall review the (proposed) Terms of Reference for the MWPC/R and any documents referred to therein. The Terms should include, but not be limited to the:

  1. wage and transportation payment policy for members during and outside regular hours of work;
  2. investigative responsibilities of members;
  3. procedure to resolve problems between meetings;
  4. effective method of communication between all locations covered by the MWPC/R;
  5. the number, and method of selecting members, to ensure a broad cross-section; and
  6. method and location of meetings and posting of minutes.

5.2 Hazardous Occurrences History

The HSO shall review the Hazardous Occurrences (HO) history of the individual work places in the LA2000 HO Module, to determine the number and severity of the hazardous occurrences, and the quality of the employer's investigations.

5.3 Compliance History of the Work Places

The HSO shall review the compliance history of the individual work places to determine if the employer has a good understanding of its obligations under the Code, and has an effective OHS Program relative to the hazards of the work place.

5.4 Agreement Between the Employer and Employees

The HSO shall confirm that an agreement has been reached between the employer and employees to establish the MWPC/R and that the employees have a knowledgeable understanding of their rights under the Code. The confirmation should be verified through:

  1. a review of the minutes of the meetings held with the employees on the matter; and
  2. a random interview with employees.

(Note: if the employees are represented by a union, the HSO shall confirm that the union (s) have been consulted and agree with the proposal).

5.5 Number of Employees covered by MWPC/R

The HSO shall consider the total number of employees represented by the MWPC/R, the range of tasks performed by the employees, and the hazards associated with these tasks.

5.6 Size and Locations of Work Places covered by MWPC/R

The HSO shall consider the physical size, and distances between, the work places, and the ability of the MWPC/R to conduct regular inspections and participate in hazardous occurrence investigations.

(The Terms of Reference should address these issues.)

6. Approval of MWPC/R

If after considering all the above, a HSO determines that a MWPC/R is able to effectively perform all of its duties for the work places it represents, he shall notify the employer that approval of the MWPC/R has been granted for 5 years.
(See Appendix B - Approval Letter)

Note: A request for approval of a Multi-Work Place Representative (rather than Committee), cannot include any individual work places with more than 19 employees, although the total number of employees in all the work places combined can exceed 19 employees.

6.1 Work Places in more than one Region/Jurisdiction

Approvals of MWPC/R for work places in more than one Region or federal Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) jurisdiction, (i.e. air transport), should be made only after the HSO consults with his counterpart(s) in the other Region or extended jurisdiction.

6.2 Partial Approvals of MWPC/R

If the HSO determines a MWPC/R can effectively represent only some of the work places listed on the request for approval, the HSO may grant an approval only for those work places, and advise the employer that local Committees/ Representatives must be established for the work places not included in the approval.

7. Rejection of MWPC/R

If after considering all the above, a HSO determines that a MWPC/R is unable to effectively perform all of its duties for the identified work places, he shall NOT approve the MWPC/R and shall advise the employer to comply with section 135.(1) or 136.(1) of the Code, and establish a Work Place Committee or Health and Safety Representative, as the case may be, for each work place. (Alternatively he may grant a partial approval as per s. 6.2 above). (See Appendix C - Rejection Letter)

8. LA2000 and Permit, Exemption, Notification (PEN) Module

The HSO will open a "Special Investigation - OHS" Assignment to record activities related to section 137.

In addition the HSO will open a PEN in the PEN Module and record the associated sites, the Issue/Expiry dates of the Approval, and the Approval/ Rejection letters, as applicable.

P. Alwyn Child
Director General
Program Development and Guidance Directorate
Labour Program


Appendix A - Direction

**Where input is necessary**

In the matter of the Canada Labour Code
Part II - Occupational Health and Safety

Direction to the Employer under Section 137

On **date**, the undersigned Health and Safety Officer, having conducted an inquiry regarding the work place operated by **name of employer**, being an employer subject to the Canada Labour Code, Part II, at **address of employer**, and having established that the **choose between: size, or nature of the operations** of the work place precludes the effective functioning of a single **choose between: work place committee or health and safety representative**,

Hereby directs the said employer, pursuant to section 137 of the Canada Labour Code, Part II, **choose between: to establish one or more additional work place committees in accordance with section 135 of the Canada Labour Code, Part II, or, to appoint one or more additional health and safety representatives in accordance with section 136 of the Canada Labour Code, Part II**, for the work place specified hereby:

**name and address of the work place affected by the direction**,

and hereby further directs the said employer to comply with the present direction no later than **date**.

Issued at **city**, this **date** day of **month**, **year**.

**signature**

**print name**
Health and Safety Officer
Certificate Number:

To: Legal name and address of the employer

Appendix B - Approval Letter

**Where input is necessary**

In the matter of an application for the approval of a multi-work place **choose between: Committee, or Representative** established pursuant to Section 137 of the Canada Labour Code, Part II

By: **name of employer**

Herein called the employer

In respect of the proposed establishment of a multi-work place **choose between: committee, or representative** representing the following work places:

**name and addresses of work places subject to the approval**

Whereas I am of the opinion that such a multi-work place **choose between: committee, or representative** can function effectively and perform all the required duties,

Therefor, pursuant to section 137 of Part II of the Canada Labour Code, I hereby approve a multi-work place **choose between: committee, or representative** to be established for the identified work places, subject to the following conditions:

  1. this approval is applicable to the multi-work place **choose between: committee or representative** as structured on **date**;
  2. this approval is valid for 5 years from the issue date, but is subject to review and termination by HRSDC-Labour Program at any time.

Issued at **city**, this **date** day of **month**, **year**.

**signature**

**print name**
Health and Safety Officer
Certificate Number:

Appendix C - Rejection Letter

**Where input is necessary**

Date

Name/Address of Employer

Name/Title of Employer Contact

Re: Application for Approval of a Multi-Work Place **choose between:
Committee or, Representative**

This letter is in reply to your application for approval of a multi-work place **choose between: committee or, representative**, pursuant to section 137 of the Canada Labour Code, Part II, to represent the following work places:

**name and addresses of work places included in the request**

Having reviewed the number, size, and complexity of the work places, the distances between the work places, and the hazards associated with the work places, I am of the opinion that a multi-work place **choose between: committee or, representative** is not appropriate to represent these work places.

As such, individual work place committees or health and safety representatives, as the case may be, must be established for each of these work places in accordance with sections 135 and 136 of the Canada Labour Code, Part II.

Yours truly

**signature**

**print name**
Health and Safety Officer
Certificate Number:

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