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By Mike Davey

Hamilton, Ontario -- March 30, 2016 -- There's no question that health and safety training is important. Aside from the human cost, there is a very real impact on a body shop's productivity if workers become sick or injured. Ensuring that you've done your due diligence is paramount to protecting your workers from harm and your business from liability.

The rules vary somewhat from province to province, but in general most businesses working with designated substances must have a Joint Health and Safety Committee(JHSC). A JHSC is a forum for bringing the internal responsibility system into practice. The committee consists of labour and management representatives who meet on a regular basis to deal with health and safety issues. The advantage of a joint committee is that the in-depth practical knowledge of specific tasks is brought together with the larger overview of company policies and procedures.

Collision repair facilities are considered working with designated substances if isocyanates are used in the shop, either in painting or body filler applications," says John Norris of autobody trade association Collision Industry Information Assistance (CIIA). "All those facilities must have, regardless of number of workers, a Joint Health and Safety Committee."

Having a JHSC is essential, but may not be enough. In some jurisdictions, including Ontario, certain businesses are required to have workers certified through training. To certify a worker, the employer needs to send employees to a total of five days of training on Health & Safety Certification, called Level 1 and Level 2.

"There has been confusion on whether this requirement for small businesses is legal or enforceable," says Norris. "The recent answer in Ontario is that auto refinish and collision repair facilities with 19 or less ordinary workers are exempt from this requirement."

The answer is largely the same across the country. Many provinces and territories waive the requirement for a JHSC if there are under 20 workers in the business. The exceptions are Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Nunavut. Saskatachewan and Newfoundland require a JHSC if there are 10 workers or more. In the case of Alberta and Nunabut, a JHSC is requied at the presiding official's discretion.

Thanks to the recent clarification, the Ontario Ministry has also issued an order rescinding notices from inspectors who previously had served orders on some shops.

"For qualifying shops that have received a training order from the Ministry for this training, you should check with the inspector and request that the order be rescinded, based on this exemption under Ontario Regulation 385/96, Section 4(1)," says Norris. "For shops that are continuing to train in Certification, please remember that not all trainers are approved by the Ministry and many shops complain about private trainer sales tactics. Please ensure that the training has Ministry of Labour approval for the training provider and the course."

For more information on CIIA, please visit ciia.com. For more information on Joint Health and Safety Committees, including requirements in your area, please visit ccohs.ca/oshanswers/hsprograms/hscommittees/whatisa.html.


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