Keys to Success for an Effective Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee

August 13, 2018

Four employees sitting at table having a business meeting

By John Artym, Vice President of CHAMP

Recent changes to the Alberta Occupational Health & Safety legislation related to Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committees (JWSHSC) puts considerable focus on:

  • regulatory requirements or compliance
  • structure of the committee
  • roles and responsibilities

The legislation provides little to no discussion on how effective the committee or the committee’s work is and their culture.

In my experience with several organizations, both private and public, the keys to success in any committee is to ensure:

  • members are engaged
  • the committee itself is engaging
  • members understand their roles, responsibilities and authorities
  • members have a desire to make a difference

When employees know they are contributing to the success of a group or organization, it becomes meaningful.  

As you set out to structure your Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committees, consider these objectives:

  1. Ensure you are engaging your workforce.
  2. Plan to get meaningful contribution and outputs.
  3. Provide leadership and work with your committees to help create and/or further a proactive culture.
  4. Embrace measurements that create productive performance and actions.
  5. Committees need to have accountabilities.

Recognize that your employees bring expertise and knowledge to the table, both operational and personal, contemplate how to integrate this into your Committee roles and responsibilities.

Employees are ideal resources to provide inputs on:

  1. Work Procedures, Safe Operating Procedures and Safe Work practices.
  2. The hazard sources at your worksites (i.e. gravity, chemical, pressure, wildlife…) and help create a living hazard inventory.
  3. Training and competency requirements.
  4. Human factors that will impact performance, health and safety.

Organizations and employees need to and want to be productive and effective as well as successful. Being effective at the Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee level and ultimately at work requires skills and knowledge. Invest in training your committee members and provide relevant training.

Define what your Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee members are responsible for; this may include:

  1. Influencing the success of your management systems. Consider leadership and safety management system training (i.e. the industry recognized SEFSAM program).
  2. Completing hazard identification and risk assessments, reviewing Job Safety Analysis (JSA) and Safe Operating Procedures (SOP). Committee members need to understand and be competent in areas including hazard sources, hazards and human factors. If the committee is responsible for reviewing/ confirming the chemical hazards (physical and health) and their controls and measures; think of what training is required?
  3. Leading or participating in incident investigations. Training in incident investigation and cause analysis is a must.

In conclusion, the keys to success for any of your committees is dependant upon how your organization and you utilize the efforts of the committee.  Key fundamentals for the JWSHSC:

  • Providing clear objectives for the structure of the JWSHSC committee.
  • Understand the strengths and experience each committee member brings.
  • Detail the objectives or what the JWSHSC committee is responsible for.
  • Provide training so the JWSHSC committee and its members can succeed.

It comes down to Committees members knowing what they are being measured on and what the reward is. This can be through measuring the success of any changes adopted and providing realistic feedback on their efforts.  This will in turn provide serious positive motivation for them to deliver in the future, not just go through the motions.