“If you’re not assessing
the results of what you’ve done, how are you going to measure your success?”
asks Yvonne O’Reilly of O’Reilly Health & Safety Consulting.*
At Workplace Safety & Prevention Services’ Partners in Prevention 2019 Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show, O’Reilly introduced her session, “Building a Better Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC),” with a 10-point yes-or-no quiz for committees to start assessing their effectiveness. Whether your JHSC has just started up or has existed for years, this quiz can help you identify what your committee is doing right and where it could improve.
Give yourself a point for each “yes.” Follow O’Reilly’s advice to make your JHSC even more effective.
- You have a committee and it meets as required by legislation. In Ontario, JHSCs must meet a minimum four times a year. “Consider holding meetings more often,” says O’Reilly. “Meeting once a month allows you to follow up on inspection reports more effectively.”
- Members have volunteered and have not been “volun-told.” You want members who are committed. “You can increase motivation for workers to volunteer on the committee if they understand what transferable skills they will learn and how they will be supported,” says O’Reilly.
- You follow an agenda. “Publish this well in advance of meetings. It will allow committee members to prepare. Post the agenda in a public area so all workers can have the opportunity to give feedback and avoid the potential for the committee being in a silo and disconnected from those they represent.”
- You conduct inspections. “Decide on the types of inspections you want to carry out. Is it a blank slate — looking at everything? Or is it formatted? Do you allow time for observations or collecting feedback?”
- You record inspections and follow-up actions. “Claim the full point only if your inspection-form lists what was remediated and when. An incomplete form is a potential red flag that issues are not being resolved or that internal communication could be improved.”
- Employees know there is a committee and its impact. Make sure your committee and its work are visible. Communicate your activities through bulletins, newsletters, lunch ’n learns, et cetera. “It’s important that all workers understand the scope of the committee; knowing what their role is and is not can help to ensure better support of the internal-responsibility system.”
- Management knows there is a JHSC and seeks its input. Your committee’s goals should be aligned with management’s. “If you talk to management only when there is a problem, like a work refusal, it’s time your co-chairs request regularly scheduled meetings with management.”
- All members have received some form of training/information. What are you doing to keep members up to date? “Information is available through conferences, MOL bulletins, hazard alerts, guest speakers, et cetera.”
- Your committee makes formal recommendations to management. “It’s common to see ‘the committee recommends’ in minutes, but if the formal written-recommendation process is not followed, the employer may be unaware of its duty to respond. Written recommendations are a powerful tool when accompanied by detailed content, a clear timeline and designated follow-up.
- You know you meet all legislated requirements. “That’s a very high bar and, while it may be true now, committee membership, laws, hazards and levels of risk change. You have to ask, ‘What systems and support do you have in place to maintain the committee’s effectiveness?’”
Whatever your score, use it as a starting point, says O’Reilly. What can you do better? “Build a plan, build a way to communicate what you do and build relationships internally.”
How Workplace Safety & Prevention Services can help
Find a wealth of options on our Joint Health & Safety Committees / health and safety representative resource page, including:
- JHSC Certification Training – Part One and JHSC Certification Training – Part Two in several options and for various industry sectors
- free downloads, including sample forms and articles
- convenient eCourses and videos
*Yvonne O’Reilly is a CRSP, the owner of O’Reilly Health & Safety Consulting and a part-time instructor for the U of T School of Continuing Studies. Based in Stratford, Ont., she assists organizations in effectively implementing their OHS management system. Services include program development, due diligence & awareness training, compliance audits and JHSC workshops.