Worker representation in OHS – a good idea going where?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Andy King
National Health Safety and Environment Co-ordinator/ Dep. Leader United Steel Workers

Although worker participation in OHS is much discussed in theory and practice, worker representation receives much less attention. A key element in improving OHS throughout history, worker representation was formally recognized by the Ham Commission in Ontario in 1976 as a constitutive element of a fair occupational health and safety system. It has been subject to evolving policies since, many of which seek to minimize its significance and reduce worker participation to individual responsibility. The Labour OHCOW Academic Collaboration (LOARC) was created to provide a forum for exploring the role and potential of worker representation. In this presentation, we will discuss the origins of worker representation in OHS, the importance of activism, the significance of Ham’s recommendations and their subsequent adoption into legislation, the challenge of globalization and economic restructuring, and the threat of relativism.