Jurisdictional health and safety legislation requires most organizations to create and maintain a Health and Safety Committee (HSC).

Clear requirements are often prescribed; however, most jurisdictions allow organizations flexibility to set up their committee to be the most effective for operations.  

Here at Tatonga, we were recently asked the question:

Here are some of our thoughts: 

  • Clearly communicate to employees what the expectations are of committee members. Be transparent, let them know what all is involved. Emphasize that being a member is not more work, it accentuates your work.  
  • Find the safety champions, those who go above and beyond regarding health and safety. Personally invite them to be a member.  
  • Offer members incentives, such as lunch.  
  • Incorporate the committee into the overall safety culture. 
  • Talk up the committee to employees and other executives. This can not only encourage the HSC, but high visibility within the organization and to management can be seen as a career opportunity to employees.   
  • Be flexible but supportive of the committee.  

Employer tips

for supporting the company HSC:

  • Establish the Terms of Reference; ensure legislative requirements are met, but also be reasonable and reflective of operations.  
  • Clearly define the authority of the committee. 
  • Provide training to members, not only regarding Terms of reference requirements, but for duties and responsibilities. Train the workforce, including management on the purpose and role of the committee. 
  • Ensure the HSC has adequate time and resources to not only perform their legislative duties, but to make a difference in the (culture? Program? Workplace?) 
  • Promptly consider recommendations arising from committee meetings, take them seriously, and always provide a response.  
  • Regularly review effectiveness of the committee. Is it performing as intended?  
  • Demonstrate commitment to the HSC. Attend meetings. Speak with members about initiatives. Speak with employees about committee tasks.  

Member tips

for an effective committee: 

  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities, Consider assigning a champion to each, such as one member to lead the review of inspections, another to review worker health and safety concerns.  
  • Establish and adhere to a reporting structure and meeting guidelines. Set an agenda and keep to it.  
  • Set meeting times to be convenient for all and aim for full attendance.  
  • Meet at a location accessible to all members, that is also free from interruption and distraction.  
  • Come to a consensus rather than quorum. 

Measuring committee effectiveness

  1. Do employees know who members are? 
  2. Are employees familiar with the duties and responsibilities of the committee (i.e., that they do)? 
  3. Is the committee seen as useful by management and workers? 
  4. Do supervision see the committee as a barrier to their role in front line health and safety? 
  5. Do workers report health and safety concerns? 
  6. How is management supporting the committee? 
  7. How many recommendations have been implemented?
  8. How are HSC meeting minutes made available to employees? 
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