"There are so many things a joint health and safety committee (JHSC) can help improve at little or no cost," says John VanLenthe, a WSPS consultant who leads one of WSPS' 34 Safety Group chapters located across the province. "This is just one of many reasons why they're essential to the safe and efficient operation of any workplace."
Next year, all WSPS Safety Group members will be learning how to maximize the potential of their joint health and safety committees (JHSCs). Safety Groups is an annual performance-based rebate program developed by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Participating businesses receive rebates of up to 6% on their WSIB premiums if they collectively improve their health and safety performance.
Year after year, WSPS' Safety Group has achieved dramatic results. Successful members of WSPS' 2013 Safety Group are sharing a $6,763,820 rebate after reducing their lost-time injury frequency rate by 12.86% and severity rate by 16.35%.
Each year, members individually select four health and safety program elements to initiate or improve on in their workplace, and work together on a fifth common element. For 2015, it's JHSCs. Every element is an essential component of a health and safety program.
WSPS consultants like John VanLenthe serve as chapter leaders, facilitating five half-day meetings and directing members to resources that can help them achieve their goals. Ongoing support from WSPS includes professional advice, information, products, and services.
"WSPS' Safety Group is an ideal setting for workplaces to improve the performance of their JHSC," says VanLenthe. "Members can share best practices and coach each other on any challenges they encounter. With changes expected next year to certification training for JHSC members, Safety Group members will also have the inside track on meeting new compliance requirements."
How JHSCs improve organizational performance
JHSCs are essentially advisory groups. They're required under section 9 of the Occupational Health & Safety Act for workplaces with 20 or more permanent employees. Management and worker representatives work together to identify health and safety problems and recommend solutions to their employer. Members meet regularly to
discuss health and safety concerns
follow-up on progress made.
In the course of their inspections and interactions with workers, effective JHSCs identify opportunities for process improvements that prevent loss of any kind and contribute to organizational performance.
"Take a cracked display shelf," says VanLenthe. "What barriers prevented people from noticing and responding to this earlier? Is there a reporting system? If so, why aren't people using it?"
"If you have emergency eye wash stations, are they functioning? What risks are they intended to address? Is there a way to eliminate or control the risks that could eliminate the need for eyewash stations? If not, could workers find the stations blindfolded? Would everyone else know what to do if they hear a co-worker screaming?"
These are prevention-related questions that an effective JHSC will ask. In the process, says VanLenthe, JHSCs also serve as effective role models and partners, promoting an inclusive and solution-focused health and safety culture.
Taking your next step
Find out more about
how WSPS' 2015 Safety Group can help you improve safety performance and earn rebates. The deadline for applying is December 31.
WSPS' comprehensive resources on joint health and safety committees, and health and safety representatives (required for workplaces with less than 20 permanent employees). These resources include improved JHSC certification training. WSPS will train your committee members fast, with engaging industry-specific or all-sector courses that are convenient for your business.
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