Making your workplace health and safety committee meetings more effective—Part 1

A close-up of people holding handsA workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) has many obligations. They must inspect the workplace, investigate incidents, and meet at least every three months among other things. But often, many committees struggle with hosting productive and efficient meetings.

If your workplace faces this challenge, here are some tips that can help keep your committee engaged, make the best use of their time, and ultimately help reduce risk.

Tip #1. Understand how the law applies to JHSCs

Regardless of how long your committee has been in place, each member must understand its role and powers. A committee also has to investigate certain incidents and is involved in the event of a work refusal by an employee. Understanding the committee’s duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act can help ensure meetings remain focused on the scope.

Tip #2. Select committed management members

The employer cannot pick which employee members get selected. But they can select the management representatives. Management must support the committee, so it’s important to select management representatives committed to attending meetings and working collaboratively with others on the team. They must “walk the talk.”

Tip #3. Choose management members with different skill sets

When management members possess a variety of skill sets, it can be an asset to the committee. A manager with a finance background could budget and solicit vendors if outside help is needed to fix a health and safety problem. An engineer could help to conceptualize or design solutions. If you employ a health and safety professional or practitioner, they could be of use to the committee as well.

Tip #4. Provide training to all members

The Act requires that a minimum number of members on the committee are certified. JHSC certification training provides members with knowledge on various health and safety matters. But training ALL members of your committee is a better investment because it ensures each committee member has the foundational knowledge to perform their role effectively.

Tip #5. Create terms of reference

Your JHSC should have a terms of reference. This is like a recipe book for the committee and covers the rules of engagement, such as

  • Who will chair each meeting
  • How new members are selected
  • Procedures for carrying out inspections and investigations
  • The minimum number of workers and management representatives required for a meeting to take place (quorum)
  • How conflict will be resolved

Tip #6. Select a chair and co-chair

JHSC members should select a chair and co-chair. The committee chair ensures that agenda items are covered in each meeting, that action items are assigned, and that votes and decisions are carried out according to the terms of reference. They mediate conflict if it arises.

Tip #7. Select a secretary to record minutes and have them approved and posted

Posting minutes in the workplace is mandatory. Select a member responsible for recording minutes and circulating them to the JHSC for approval before posting them in the workplace. This role can rotate periodically.

Tip #8. Record meeting details and action items

Create a template that can make recording meeting minutes easier to do. At a minimum, the template should capture meeting date and time, attendance, previous action items, a review of incidents, new action items, assigned responsibilities, and timelines.

Ineffective JHSC meetings cost your business time and money, can be disengaging for members, and, more importantly, can fail to address hazards and risks in your workplace effectively. WorkBright™ will help you establish a Joint Health and Safety Committee or help you revive its functionality. Call us today to learn how.