Firing up your JHSC: proven tips from a 24-year veteran

Oct 06, 2016

jhscCould your joint health and safety committee (JHSC) use a high-efficiency tune-up? These 14 no- or low-cost tips from a speaker at WSPS' national Partners in Prevention conference and trade show earlier this year could be just the boost your committee needs.

"If your joint health and safety committee is operating on all cylinders," Dave Powers told delegates, "it will raise interest in safety at all levels of the organization, build enthusiasm and help your workplace integrate health and safety into everything it does." Director, health, safety and environment for Oxford Frozen Foods, Powers has worked with many joint health and safety committees over the last 24 years. Seven of his tips appear below; the remaining seven will be in our November issue.

  1. Ensure everyone knows who your JHSC members are. "One of the most common complaints I’ve heard is that the safety committee is an exclusive club. 'We don't know what they're up to.' The JHSC should probably be the most transparent committee that your organization has. You want people to know who they are and what they're doing on a monthly basis. Post a list of names and photos alongside meeting minutes. Our safety committee people wear green hardhats to increase their visibility."
  2. Ensure everyone knows what the JHSC's roles and functions are. Not knowing can hinder its effectiveness and deter workers from accessing a valuable resource. Post roles and functions beside members' names and photos. Add WSPS' 90-second video on the JHSC's role to your orientation training, safety meetings and tailbox talks.
  3. Ensure supervisors see your JHSC members as a support, not an obstacle. "Ideally, you want your workers to go to both their JHSC worker member and the supervisor. This builds committee effectiveness, as well as worker and supervisor interest in the committee."
  4. Rein in any committee cowboys. "Has your workplace struggled with an overzealous safety committee member who now thinks they’re out there to stop crime and leap buildings in a single bound? Enthusiasm gets things done, but unchannelled enthusiasm creates tension and conflict."
  5. Recognize perfect meeting attendance. "In a 12-month period we don't expect to get every member out for every meeting. Recognize the ones who make that effort, but make sure they're active contributors and not just showing up for the coffee and donuts." Also recognize important member contributions made between meetings.
  6. Evaluate your meetings. At the end of each meeting, have everyone respond to 3-5 simple but targeted questions about meeting effectiveness. Was the meeting long enough? Too long? Too short? Avoid ratings. Ask instead what works and what doesn't. Would more training be helpful? Guest experts? Prepare for blunt responses. Information = opportunity.
  7. Create subcommittees to handle specific tasks. If your JHSC is larger rather than smaller, assigning an issue or task to a subcommittee frees up JHSC meeting time for other priorities. Bring in experts if the issue requires it. To keep the subcommittee focused on solutions, set a delivery date for recommendations.

Watch for 7 more suggestions in an upcoming issue of WSPS eNews.

How WSPS can help

Certification training for the designated worker and management JHSC members is more than the law. It's also good business sense. Trained committee members are better at identifying hazards and recommending improvements, engaging employees, and being health and safety leaders.

"Training makes a huge difference in a committee's ability to protect workers," says WSPS consultant Scott Morrow. He encourages employers to provide certification training for everyone on the committee. Where that's not feasible, he encourages having other members take these two half-day courses:

"Committee members who don't have formal training aren't going to see things," says Scott. "If they produce an inspection checklist that found no hazards, they probably don't know what to be looking for."

Certification training opportunities

As a Ministry of Labour approved provider, WSPS has been the certification trainer of choice for over 100,000 people. We offer JHSC Certification Part One and JHSC Certification Part Two in several options, making learning easier and more accessible.

NEW training solution - Certification Part Two: Warehousing & Distribution.