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Creating an Effective JHSC to Help Lead Your Safety Program

Safety News, Safety Tips

“The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.”

Sound familiar? In any company, when one department tries to make changes that affect another, it can have negative effects. Especially when there is a lack of communication. When it comes to safety issues, it can have devastating effects. 

That’s why a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) is such a great tool for any safety program. 

You’ve probably heard all of the jokes. “A committee is a group of the unwilling, chosen from the unfit, to do the unnecessary,” or “What’s a camel? A horse designed by a committee.” Over the years it’s become popular to dismiss committees as inefficient and unnecessary, but if you are serious about workplace safety a joint health and safety committee can be a powerful tool to help you reach your safety goals.

What is a JHSC?

A joint health and safety committee is a team assembled to monitor, improve, and implement the safety and health policies for a company. The “joint” part of the title might be the most important. The JHSC, by nature, is comprised of both management and workforce representatives. This duality allows the committee to see both the high-level management side of things such as budgets and OSHA regulations as well as the practical, everyday functionality. 

The JHSC should conduct monthly inspections of the facility noting any safety hazards. During meetings, the committee can create solutions to those hazards that are agreeable to both management as well as the labor employees. Review this fact sheet on JHSCs from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) for more information and ideas.

How to Create Your JHSC

Your committee should have at least four people, with two representing labor and two representing management. Ideally, you should have at least one representative from every department and should never have more representatives from management than from labor. 

To get started, ask for volunteers. Willing, enthusiastic participants are always best. Mention that it can be a great addition to one’s resume. If you’re coming up short, add some minor incentives to coax people onto the team. If all else fails, do some friendly recruiting. There is little to be gained by forcing people to serve on the committee. Review OSHA  Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs.

Structure your JHSC meetings

All meetings come with certain pitfalls. Your safety committee meetings will be not different. Here are five tips to keep your meetings on time and on point.

  1. Create an agenda ahead of time – This serves as your checklist of things you need to address. Stay on the agenda and you’ll save time and energy.
  2. Dedicate a set time – Whether you need 30 minutes, an hour or more, set a specific time to meet regularly so everyone can block it off on their calendars. This creates a pattern that’s easy to remember and minimizes confusion.
  3. Create specific roles – Give each member of the committee a specific task or area to oversee and speak to. That way everyone gets a chance to participate and no one steals the show.
  4. Establish a set location – Again, consistency is key. You don’t want to waste the first 10 minutes of each meeting figuring out where you can find a quiet spot. If possible, get a designated meeting room that is shut off from outside noise and interruptions.
  5. Make it fun, but serious – If meetings feel like a chore, your committee members will start to dread them and participation will suffer. Keep the meeting fun and light while maintaining the seriousness of your purpose. 

Measuring your effectiveness

Of course, seeing your numbers of incidents going down is a great sign, but there is more to consider. How is your team viewed by the rest of the company? A simple way to measure the effectiveness of your safety committee is to survey your entire staff. Consider questions like:

  • Did you know we have a JHSC?
  • Have you interacted with the JHSC?
  • How has the JHSC helped your department?
  • Do you see the JHSC as a barrier or a help to your work?
  • How would you improve our JHSC?

Getting honest answers from your staff can help you make any changes you need to improve your overall effectiveness. The more effective your team is, the easier it will be to continue to add new members when the need arises. 

Tips for JHSC Success

Putting together your joint health and safety committee is a big step that can help your safety program become more effective, efficient and even economical. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your JHSC:

Embrace Diversity – Aim for as much diversity as you can get. The more perspectives you have on the committee, the truer your view of the facility will be. 

Terms of Reference (TOR) – A TOR is a document that outlines the committee’s essential purpose and objectives. It’s essentially your playbook. Take the time to create a thorough TOR to be a guiding reference for your committee.

Recognize Star Performers – If someone has perfect meeting attendance or is in some other way excelling in their role on the JHSC, recognize it in some meaningful way to help motivate the others.

Rein in Wild Cards – Sometimes committee members get a little overzealous with their duties and that can shine a bad light on the committee’s reputation as a whole. Recognize and gently rein in such members and remind them of the team’s methods and goals.

Introduce your JHSC – Once you’ve put your team together, introduce them to the full staff so everyone knows who’s on the committee and the primary purpose of the committee. Reinforce the idea that the JHSC is there to help, not hinder, their work. 

Having a safety committee can help you identify workplace safety and health hazards and find solutions to them. In the end, you’ll prevent more accidents, injuries and even illnesses. It may help your company lower expenses related to workers’ compensation claims and other injury-related expenses. 

If you don’t have a joint health and safety committee, it’s time to think about creating one. It’s one committee you’ll be glad to have around!

Getting Your Team to Go All-In For Workplace Safety

 

Structure your JHSC meetings

All meetings come with certain pitfalls. Your safety committee meetings will be not different. Here are five tips to keep your meetings on time and on point.

  1. Create an agenda ahead of time – This serves as your checklist of things you need to address. Stay on the agenda and you’ll save time and energy.
  2. Dedicate a set time – Whether you need 30 minutes, an hour or more, set a specific time to meet regularly so everyone can block it off on their calendars. This creates a pattern that’s easy to remember and minimizes confusion.
  3. Create specific roles – Give each member of the committee a specific task or area to oversee and speak to. That way everyone gets a chance to participate and no one steals the show.
  4. Establish a set location – Again, consistency is key. You don’t want to waste the first 10 minutes of each meeting figuring out where you can find a quiet spot. If possible, get a designated meeting room that is shut off from outside noise and interruptions.
  5. Make it fun, but serious – If meetings feel like a chore, your committee members will start to dread them and participation will suffer. Keep the meeting fun and light while maintaining the seriousness of your purpose. 

Measuring your effectiveness

Of course, seeing your numbers of incidents going down is a great sign, but there is more to consider. How is your team viewed by the rest of the company? A simple way to measure the effectiveness of your safety committee is to survey your entire staff. Consider questions like:

  • Did you know we have a JHSC?
  • Have you interacted with the JHSC?
  • How has the JHSC helped your department?
  • Do you see the JHSC as a barrier or a help to your work?
  • How would you improve our JHSC?

Getting honest answers from your staff can help you make any changes you need to improve your overall effectiveness. The more effective your team is, the easier it will be to continue to add new members when the need arises. 

Tips for JHSC Success

Putting together your joint health and safety committee is a big step that can help your safety program become more effective, efficient and even economical. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your JHSC:

Embrace Diversity – Aim for as much diversity as you can get. The more perspectives you have on the committee, the truer your view of the facility will be. 

Terms of Reference (TOR) – A TOR is a document that outlines the committee’s essential purpose and objectives. It’s essentially your playbook. Take the time to create a thorough TOR to be a guiding reference for your committee.

Recognize Star Performers – If someone has perfect meeting attendance or is in some other way excelling in their role on the JHSC, recognize it in some meaningful way to help motivate the others.

Rein in Wild Cards – Sometimes committee members get a little overzealous with their duties and that can shine a bad light on the committee’s reputation as a whole. Recognize and gently rein in such members and remind them of the team’s methods and goals.

Introduce your JHSC – Once you’ve put your team together, introduce them to the full staff so everyone knows who’s on the committee and the primary purpose of the committee. Reinforce the idea that the JHSC is there to help, not hinder, their work. 

Having a safety committee can help you identify workplace safety and health hazards and find solutions to them. In the end, you’ll prevent more accidents, injuries and even illnesses. It may help your company lower expenses related to workers’ compensation claims and other injury-related expenses. 

If you don’t have a joint health and safety committee, it’s time to think about creating one. It’s one committee you’ll be glad to have around!

Getting Your Team to Go All-In For Workplace Safety