Making your workplace health and safety committee meetings more effective—Part 2

A picture of person placing post-it-notes on a wall in front of a workplace committeeThis article will review strategies that can be taken during a meeting to keep your committee engaged, make the best use of their time, and ultimately help reduce risk.

Tip #1. Prepare the physical meeting environment

Arrive early to ensure there are enough seats, tables are cleared, and that temperature, noise distractions, and lighting are okay. Check that equipment, such as a projector and speakers, is available if needed. If using a whiteboard to write main points, ensure it is clean and markers are available.

Tip #2. Prepare the virtual meeting environment

If your committee meets virtually (online through, e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meets, etc.), you need to do a few extra things to ensure a smooth meeting.

Confirm you have emailed the meeting link to all members. This email can include the previous minutes and agenda, too. As members join the meeting online, ensure they are comfortable using the system. You can ask them to test their audio by muting and unmuting, to turn on the webcam, and type into the chat before you start.

Tip #3. Arrive at the meeting earlier than everyone else

Invite both co-chairs to come early too. Use this time to review previous minutes and the agenda with them. The co-chairs may also have specific agenda items they need to review or questions they want to discuss. This should be done before everyone arrives.

Tip #4. Start and end the meeting on time

Participating in a workplace health and safety committee does take time. Allot time to each agenda item and stick to it. If discussions veer off into other matters, ask that they be brought up under new business or write these new ideas on a flipchart to discuss at the end of the meeting, if time permits.

Tip #5. Allow everyone to review previous minutes and the agenda

Often, despite your best efforts in asking members to review the minutes before the meeting, there will inevitably be members who do not. Additionally, those members may be reluctant to tell you they didn’t review the minutes. Save them embarrassment by adding five minutes to your agenda to allow everyone the opportunity to review the previous minutes. This helps ensure that each member has the information needed to participate actively.

Tip #6. Lead inclusive meetings

Give everyone an opportunity to provide input on discussions. Instead of asking the whole group if they agree with a decision, ask each member how they feel about it and discuss it. If a new idea is raised, don’t dismiss it. Discuss it together.

Tip #7. Resolve conflicts with good communication

It is inevitable at some point for conflict to arise among committee members. If handled properly, this can be healthy. For example, if a disagreement arises, write down each position. This avoids miscommunication and ensures that each member clearly understands both sides.

Tip #8. Settle conflicts with evidence-based decisions and vote

If the conflict still exists, both sides should be asked to provide evidence to support their position. Perhaps a competitor recently experienced an incident, and the circumstances are like those found in your workplace. Or maybe the last three workplace inspections uncovered a common issue.

If members still can’t agree on what steps should be taken next, the chair may request a vote to determine a course of action. For example, members may decide that help is needed from an outside expert such as an occupational hygienist, ergonomist, or another professional to help investigate further so the committee can make a proper decision.

Regardless of the outcome, the chair must work to ensure the focus remains on the problem and that the differences in opinion are not personal.

Tip #9. Summarize key action items and decisions

At the end of the meeting, recap the action items agreed to, who was assigned those action items, timelines, and any decisions made at the meeting. Close the discussion by asking each member if they have any final points to make.

If you struggle to motivate your committee members and are not getting the desired results, we can help you energize your committee members and meetings. WorkBright™ has over a decade of experience dealing with management and employee health and safety committees. Call us today to learn more about how we can help.