Establishing a Health and Safety Representative

If your farm has between 5 to 19 workers, you must have an appointed health and safety representative. This representative cannot be part of the management team, and must be selected by their co-workers.

The health and safety representative acts as a ‘middleman’ through which you and your workers can collaborate on issues related to health and safety in the workplace. The safety representative must be provided with time during the work
day to fulfill his/her duties with pay. Farming operations with complex needs may establish a committee, if they so choose.

To get your health and safety representative in place, follow these steps:

Explain the role of a health and safety representative to your workers

The health and safety representative brings worker concerns to managers and employers on behalf of all the workers. The role also includes:

  • Cooperating with all workplace parties to identify hazards to health and safety, and to identify effective systems to respond to the hazards.
  • Cooperating with all workplace parties to ensure compliance with health and safety requirements in the workplace.
  • Receiving all matters and complaints with respect to workplace health and safety—and cooperate with the employer to investigate and promptly address.
  • Participating in inspections, inquiries, and investigations concerning health and safety in the workplace.
  • Advising on individual protective devices, equipment, and clothing that best meet worker requirements, in keeping with the Act and Regulations.
  • Advising the employer regarding any policy or program required by the Act and Regulations.
  • Recommending improvements to health and safety of persons at the workplace—to the employer, the workers, and any person involved.

Ask your workers to pick someone to be their health and safety representative

The following process may be helpful in choosing a representative:

  • Arrange a time to meet with your workers as a group.
  • Review the role of a health and safety representative.
  • Ask your workers to pick someone who is not a manager or supervisor to fill this role.
  • The managers and supervisors should leave the room while the other workers make their choice.
  • If a leader does not emerge, the workers can each anonymously write their choice on a piece of paper, which would then get collected and counted.
  • If the chosen worker feels uncomfortable taking on this role, allow them to decline and ask the next person.
  • Ensure the new health and safety representative understands their role.
  • Respond when the health and safety representative comes to you with concerns.

(Source: Small Business Safety Toolkit, Nova Scotia)