Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee

Date Issued: 1990
Date Revised: October 2005
Approved by: Dr. Tom Traves, President


The Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee is established by the President to establish an Environmental Health and Safety Program as set out in the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Committee assists the University in attempting to achieve the highest possible standards of environmental health and safety. In cooperation with staff, faculty, students, and the University Administration, the Committee assists the University in creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment.


The Committee will be composed of people appointed by the University and an equal number of people appointed by employee and student groups as follows:

  • Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), 1 member
  • Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA), 2 members representing: Faculty, Instructors
  • Dalhousie Student Union (DSU), 1 member
  • Dalhousie University Administrative Group (DUAG), 1 member
  • International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), 3 members representing: Environmental Services, Security Services, Engineering Services
  • Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), 1 member

As required, the Committee will form sub-committees to carry out tasks on behalf of the Committee.

The Director of Environmental Health and Safety will participate as a non-voting member, providing support and liaison between the Committee and Senior Administration.

Both employee group and University appointees will normally be appointed for a term of two years. Members may be reappointed to serve subsequent terms. Should they choose to do so, employee groups and the University may name alternates who, in the absence of the appointed member, may fully participate in Committee activities.

From among its members, the Committee will appoint a Chair and Co-Chair.  Each will serve a one year term beginning in September of each year.  After serving a one year term, the Co-Chair will assume the position of Chair for the following year.

To ensure that the position of Chair is held alternately by a University appointee and an Employee Group representative, the Chair and Co-Chair will not both be chosen from among those appointed by either the University or the employee groups.


  1. Recommend policies and procedures, for all aspects of health and safety within the University.
  2. Recommend such alterations to physical facilities or work practices as it deems necessary or advisable.
  3. Respond to health and safety concerns, complaints, or work refusals raised by members of the University.
  4. Participate in and/or receive reports of investigations of accidents.
  5. Participate in and/or receive reports of audits, inspections, and workplace testing and orders issued by Labour Department officers.
  6. Evaluate and make recommendations on the training that Committee members require to function effectively.
  7. Annually review the Dalhousie Environmental Health and Safety Policy and the Dalhousie Environmental Health and Safety Program providing recommendations for changes when appropriate.
  8. With the support of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, maintain minutes of meetings and records of correspondence and activities.
  9. Develop procedures necessary to carry out the Committee's functions, taking into account the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and associated regulations.
  10. Maintain contact with and support local and departmental health and safety committees.

As required, the Committee will form sub-committees to carry out tasks on behalf of the Committee.


The Committee will meet monthly between September and June and as such other times as the chair may consider necessary. The schedule for the year will be established each September and as much notice as is practical will be provided in the event that other meetings are required.

Any member may place items on the agenda for discussion at a Committee meeting. When possible, members should advise the Safety Office in advance of the meeting to allow relevant papers to be circulated and to allow members adequate time for preparation.

Members of the University community with an interest in any items that are to be discussed will generally be welcome to attend Committee meetings. At the discretion of the Chair such visitors may be permitted to address the Committee.

Arrangements for the meetings, recording of notes, preparation of agenda, and other administrative support will be provided by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

Meetings will be conducted by the chairperson. In the absence of the chairperson, the Deputy Chair who will conduct the meeting.

At regular meetings, a quorum will be one half of the appointed members provided that this number includes at least two members appointed by both the employee groups and the University. In the absence of a quorum, a Committee meeting will continue except that no formal votes may by conducted.

The Committee will normally seeks to operate by consensus without the need for formal votes. When a member requests a formal vote and when sufficient number of members are present to establish a quorum, a motion will be carried when supported by one half plus one of the members present.

Responding to Work Refusals

As described by Section 43 the Nova Scotia Occupational Safety Act, the Committee may be asked to consider a work refusal raised by an employee of the University who believes that the concerns which prompted the refusal have not been adequately addressed by the employee's supervisor.


  1. Upon learning of a work refusal requiring a Committee response, a member of the Committee will immediately notify the Chair and the Dalhousie Safety Office.
  2. The Chair, in cooperation with the Director of Environmental Health and Safety, will schedule a special meeting providing as much notice to members as is possible in the circumstances.
  3. Those members able to attend the special meeting will constitute the Committee as described by Sections 17 (2), 43 (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  4. Having considered the information provided by the person exercising the right to refuse, and such other information as the Committee considers appropriate, the Committee will:
    • unanimously advise the employee to return to work, or
    • make such other recommendations to the employee or the University as the Committee feels appropriate.

Responding to Serious Accidents

Should a serious accident occur, the Director of Environmental Health and Safety will immediately inform the Chair and will initiate an accident investigation as set out in the University's Accident Investigation Policy.