10 Steps to Make Sure Your Joint Health and Safety Committee is Doing a Good Job

This article first appeared in our March 2012 issue and contained 8 steps. Since then, two more steps were added. The article is worth repeating with the updates to help ensure committees achieve their mandates which should help their workers go home safely from work each day.

You’ve implemented a Joint Health and Safety Committee or have a committee in place for some time and are reasonably happy that you have done everything you need to be in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. But is your committee effective? Has having a committee in place changed your health and safety record? When your committee meets are they getting things done or just ticking some boxes to document that they met? Since March is here and a brand new quarter will begin in April, why not take the time this month to set some objectives for the Joint Health and Safety Committee to achieve in 2013?

If your committee is always deferring items from one meeting to another, the committee itself is ineffective. Before you can set objectives for them, an audit is important. Here are 8 steps to make sure your Joint Health and Safety Committee is doing a good job.

Step #1: Start by looking at what issues or items the committee dealt with. Make sure the items were relevant to your company and the committee’s mandate. While you are at it, make sure they have a mandate (maintaining a safe workplace) and that all committee members know about it and are working to achieve it.

Step #2: Count the amount of times the committee met for last year, identify the areas they inspected and how often. At the same time ensure that you have enough members on the committee, that they were afforded the time to inspect the workplace/attend meetings and that they are properly trained to do the job.

Step #3: The minutes from the 2013 meetings should be easily able to identify how successful the committee was in closing off on items that came up during the year. Count the number of items the committee dealt with and get a percentage of how many items were resolved (you will look at the resolution timing rate in the next step).

Step#4: Check for items that were carried forward for more than one month and identify the reason. Next check to see how long each item was open before resolution. Count how long it took the committee to resolve an item i.e. one month, two months, etc.

Step #5: Look for items that should have been rated as a priority and were either misidentified or carried forward to the next month.

Step #6: Look for other items that were carried forward month over month (despite the efforts of the committee) that needed follow-up from others outside the committee. Identify if the efforts of the committee were blocked in any way by the company. Identify any other barrier sources.

Step #7: Look at data for types of accidents and frequencies. If you are not tracking this information you are missing an opportunity to help prevent future accidents. If you don’t have reports to consult, look at Form 7 information and make a list of injuries.

Step #8: Use the information identified in the above steps to create solutions to any barriers or fix any performance issues the committee had. If you have additional data from past years, more important information may be available so it is worthwhile looking back as far as you can. You may be surprised that some items go back years (i.e. loose bathroom floor tiles etc.).

Step #9: Set aside some time to annually set objectives for the Joint Health and Safety Committee to achieve. Get their input to help set realistic goals.

Step #10: Annually create reports with hard data on the demographics of your accidents. This could be accident types, which body part, which shift, which location, etc. The more information you have the better. It is a great idea to also create charts (especially pie charts) from the data. Seeing the information graphically is a real sobering experience. The goal is to look for trends and to quantify the accident so you and the committee can see where to put more focus on going forward.

Going forward, annually use the above steps to rate the committee’s performance and identify any barriers to their effectiveness. Along with the committee, create solutions to ensure that they have all the tools they need to achieve their mandate. If you use the above steps, achieving your committee’s mandate should be much easier. Everyone in your organization will benefit and thank you for your efforts for keeping them safe.

Contributed by Bernadette Smith, CHRP, PMP
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