11 Sep As an employer, how should I regulate JHSC for remote workers?
Many employees have made the permanent transition to working remotely. They have become experts at communicating through virtual platforms and managing their work responsibilities from the comfort of their own homes. As remote work excites many employees, it presents some questions about how employers can best manage their workplace. One of the concerns that may be at issue is how employers will keep their employees safe and enforce their health and safety policies.
The JHSC is the Joint Health and Safety Committee comprised of employees and workers that monitor the health and safety of their fellow colleagues and will report any risks to their employer. Their responsibility is to improve the safety at the workplace by scheduling monthly inspections, determining the safety risks, collecting information on the safety hazards, initiating meetings to discuss the risk, formulating a report with the information collected, and advising the employer on how to fix the issue.
The reason this committee is so valuable to employers is because the information is coming directly from their employees who are immersed in the environmental conditions of the workplace.
How can JHSC manage health and safety at home offices?
When employees decide to work remotely, the home office they build is a direct extension of the workplace. According to the Occupational Healthy and Safety Act (OHSA), the JHSA must work uniformly, whether there are in-office and/or home office workers. For example, it would still hold true that a workplace with fifty or more workers, whether some are remote or in-office workers, would require a JHSA that consists of at least four members. And further, it is nevertheless necessary that the JHSA perform all the responsibilities noted above.
Even though the expectations of the JHSA are the same, how they conduct their inspections will have to adapt to virtual conditions.
How could the JHSA conduct their inspections in remote work environments?
The employer could consider establishing an at-home inspection that is available to all remote workers. These assessments could be important to regulate mental health conditions, any potential physical hazards, and the risks to the virtual work environment. The assessment could include checklists, available resources, or training on how to create the best workspace at home.
If remote working conditions are being offered at the workplace, there is a chance that inspections and meetings may only be virtual, as JHSA members could also be working from home. It may be crucial for the employer to ensure there is a virtual platform for JHSA members to meet virtually and discuss their data and/or concerns efficiently.
Further, employers should advocate for their employees to connect with JHSA members (either consistently or sporadically) to avoid or resolve safety hazards at home. For example, if the employee feels like their mental health is suffering due to lack of in-person communication and socialization, the JHSA could come up with possible solutions to this problem.
If you are an employer who needs help creating health and safety policies in response to implementing remote office spaces, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.