A health and safety committee, comprised of worker and management representatives who meet regularly, brings the internal responsibility system into practice. This system recognizes that the employer and workers have a shared responsibility for workplace health and safety, with the employer having the final authority and responsibility. In most Canadian jurisdictions a health and safety committee is required by law.
In the photo of today and This infographic outlines requirements and good practices for an effective health and safety committee, from defining roles and responsibilities to providing training and resources to recognizing and addressing workplace hazards.
Roles of Health and Safety Committees
A health and safety committee can be an important way to improve conditions on the job. The committee provides a forum for employees and management to work together to solve health and safety problems. An effective committee can help prevent injury and illness on the job; increase awareness of health and safety issues among workers, supervisors, and managers; and develop strategies to make the work environment safe and healthy.
The following is a list of some possible roles of a health and safety committee.
Hazard Identification, Evaluation, and Control
- Review injury data, accident reports, and workers’ compensation records.
- Conduct regular walkaround inspections to identify potential health and safety hazards.
- Conduct safety and health job analyses to identify problems.
- Design and conduct health and safety surveys.
- Collect and review Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).
- Propose and evaluate various ways to improve safety conditions.
- Get recommendations acted upon.
- Review and evaluate corrective actions taken by management.
- Temporarily “shut down” unsafe operations until a hazard is corrected.
- Collect and review information on new chemicals, procedures, and processes before they are introduced.
- Participate in studies conducted by outside researchers or consultants.
- Establish or improve procedures for employees to report safety hazards or suggest improvements without fear of reprisal.
Information and Education
- Respond to concerns raised by workers, supervisors, and managers.
- Recommend training for new employees, supervisors, and managers and refresher training on health and safety practices, procedures, and emergency response.
- Plan and organize training programs.
- Establish or improve procedures for employees to report health symptoms without fear of reprisal.
- Keep workers, supervisors, and managers informed about the committee’s activities.
- Investigate accidents, including their root causes.
- Establish procedures for reviewing reports of all safety incidents, including accidents, illnesses, and deaths.
- Review accident/incident reports and make recommendations for appropriate corrective action.
- Develop systems for reporting accidents and “near misses.”
Safety and Health Planning
- Establish procedures to review inspection reports.
- Recommend and track new safety and health rules and work practices.
- Review proposed equipment purchases and make recommendations.
- Regularly review and evaluate the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).
- Develop a tracking system that enables the committee to monitor progress on safety issues.
Making Health and Safety Committees Effective
Committee Membership and Procedures
- Make sure there is equal representation of workers and managers.
- Have workers or their union pick their own representatives.
- Make sure there are senior managers on the committee who have the authority to make decisions.
- Choose members who will be active and productive team players. Both management and employee representatives should be fully committed to the committee’s work.
- Make sure management and employee representatives share responsibility for setting agendas and goals, chairing meetings, and taking on specific tasks.
- Agree on guidelines for effective communication and mutual respect among committee members.
- Establish procedures for employees to report hazards or suggest safety improvements to the committee without fear of reprisal.
- Secure support from all levels of the organization to commit adequate time and resources to make the committee successful.
- Make sure all members receive enough training to be effective on the committee.
- Provide adequate paid work time for members to attend meetings and carry out their committee responsibilities.
- Ensure that committee members have access to the worksite and to all relevant information necessary to carry out their duties.
- Use outside experts, as needed.
Planning the Meeting
- Plan the meeting with management and worker representatives, including prioritizing the topics that should be covered and when and where the meeting will be held.
- Send the agenda and other relevant committee information to committee members and other interested parties at least five days prior to the meeting.
- Review minutes from the last meeting and check on the status of any pending actions.
- Review any concerns and suggestions from workers or supervisors so they can be brought to the committee.
Running a Productive Meeting
- Start on time.
- Establish the ground rules:
- Ensure there is agreement on the process. For example, will disagreements be resolved by formal votes?
- Maintain open and balanced discussion, and make sure everyone has an equal chance to speak.
- Define and agree upon roles and responsibilities.
- Keep the focus on safety and health issues. Do not allow personal attacks.
- Seek approval of the agenda by participants. Revise if needed.
- Introduce new members and guests.
- Set clear time limits for discussion of agenda items.
- Review action items from the previous meeting.
- Try to make progress on smaller steps while working toward larger objectives.
- Keep good minutes of the meeting to document decisions made.
- Establish action items and responsibilities: Who, what, and when?
- Set the date, time, and place of the next meeting, and develop a preliminary agenda.
- Evaluate the meeting. Were expectations met? Was the agenda followed? Were problems resolved? Can future meetings be improved?
- Close the meeting on time and on a positive note.
- Prepare the meeting minutes.
- Distribute and/or post the minutes.
- Follow up on action items and publicize your successes.
Effective Health and Safety committees
- Photo of the day: WHMIS 2015 – Pictograms
- Photo of the day: Indoor Air Quality
- Photo of the day: Noise in the affected workplace
- Photo of the day: Fatigue at Work
- Photo of the day: Don’t be Driven to Distraction
- Photo of the day: working in heat and Humidex Rating
- How to use Plate Clamps Safely: Safety Moment#34
- Photo of the day: Sitting at work
- Photo of the day: 5 ways to reduce the risk of Slipping and Tripping
- Photo of the day: Preventing the spread of contagious illness
- Photo of the day: Incident Investigations
- Photo of the day: 10 Scaffold Safety Essentials
- Photo of the day: Effective Health and Safety Committees
- Photo of the day: New worker Orientation & Safety Orientation checklist
- Photo of the day: Workplace Inspection
- Photo of the day: musculoskeletal disorders
- Photo of the day: Emergency preparedness in the workplace
- Photo of the day: Mental health in the workplace
- Photo of the day: Trenching Safety Tips That Can Save a Life
- Photo of the day: Dangerous Goods Classes
- Photo of the day: Safety Equipment for Confined Spaces
- Photo of the day: Safe work practices when using MEWPs
- Photo of the day: Tips to reduce Heat stress in the workplace
- Photo of the day: hierarchy of controls
- Your steps to chemical safety
- H2S Gas and how to handle its Emergency
- Photo of the day: Importance of Mock drill and Fire Action Emergency Procedure
- Photo of the day: Choosing the Right Face Mask and the difference between a respirator and face mask
- Photo of the day: Confined space safety Precautions
- Breath Safely: The Proper Use of Respiratory Protection
- Photo of the day: Electric shock survival
- Photo of the day: Chemical Spill Emergency Response
- Photo of the day: Construction Site fire Safety
- Photo of the day: Confined Space rescue
- Photo of the day: Conveyors Safety Tips
- Photo of the day: 5 Essential outcomes of an effective leadership survey process
- Photo of the day: Safe Lifting at work
- Photo of the day: 5 Ways to Reinforce Commuting With Positive Reinforcement
- Photo of the day: Eyes on the Road The challenges of safe driving
- Photo of the day: Overhead powerline safety
- Photo of the day: Top10 Injuries in office work
- Photo of the day: You can prevent workplace Falls
- Photo of the day: 8 Basic steps to wear a safety harness
- Photo of the day: Ladder Safety Tips
- Photo of the day: Fire Emergency
- Photo of the day: Glove Safety
- Photo of the day: A mistake you see your mistake too
- Photo of the day: Most common safety incidents in the workplace
- Photo of the day: Fire Safety checklist for workplace
- Photo of the day: How to Avoid the Fatal Four
- Photo of the day: What is the line of fire
- Photo of the day: workplace Hazards
- Photo of the day: Fostering Engagement at the front line
- Photo of the day: FrontLine supervisors are the LINCHPINS of safety
- Photo of the day:5 keys for effective Self-Management in lone worker safety
- Photo of the day:7 Ineffective Safety Practices (And What To Do Instead)
- Photo of the day:5-Signs your Near-Miss Reporting is failing
- Photo of the day: 10 Elements of Successful Behavior-Based Safety Program
- Photo of the day: Tracking Near Miss Incidents
- Photo of the day: What Doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
- Photo of the day: 5 Tips to keep your Crew Healthy and safe at work
- Photo of the day: DO’S and DON’TS of Working At Heights
- Photo of the day: Why is PPE important?
- Photo of the day: Unsafe Conditions
- Photo of the day: Safety Leader
- Photo of the day: Outline Safety observations
- Photo of the day: What are the hazards
- Photo of the day: Hand safety Facts
- Photo of the day: Identify the Hazards