Safety First and Last: How to structure your rental store’s safety committee for best results
By Jeff Thorne
From coast to coast, most provincial and federal legislation requires that employers establish and maintain safety committees. What they are called may differ; Joint Work Site Committees in Alberta, Occupational Health Committees in Saskatchewan, Health and Safety Committees in Newfoundland and Ontario. Regardless of what they are called, they have an important role to play in today’s workplaces.
By Jeff Thorne
Committees have a great opportunity to strengthen and improve an organization’s health and safety culture. They are an advisory body made of workers and management working together to establish and maintain healthy and safe workplaces. This typically gets achieved through workplace inspections, frequent meetings, administrative reviews and providing guidance and recommendations on health and safety issues that arise in the workplace.
So how do you know if your committee is effective? There is more to it than just simply looking at a reduction in incidents, illness or injuries as this data may be misleading due to lack of reporting and investigation. Here are some key factors to consider to ensure the success of your committee.
Set goals. Goals can be set through a terms-of-reference document. This document provides guidance to the committee to ensure the committee’s and the organization’s goals are aligned. Each organization needs to set health and safety goals and well-defined plans to achieve these goals. Goals for the committee should include legislative compliance, injury and illness reduction and supporting the organization’s health and safety program.
Set objectives. Objectives are specific ways that the committee will attain its goals. This is done through setting specific targets that can be measured and evaluated. Without setting goals and objectives, the purpose and path of the committee can be lost quickly. Objectives should include visibility in the workplace, communication to identify and control hazards, recommending improvements to management, responding to health and safety concerns, reviewing injury and illness data, identifying trending issues and monitoring the effectiveness of health and safety processes and programs in the workplace.
Create rules for the committee. In doing this, you must consider different departments, process and shiftwork. In order for meetings to be effective, you must consider how many people you need as a minimum to hold your meeting and how many meetings each member must make during the year. For example, if you have six people on the committee and only three continuously show up, your committee is not going to be as effective as it could be.
Training of committee members – Almost every province requires committee members to be trained. In Ontario and New Brunswick members must attend a training program prescribed by their respective Occupational Health and Safety Acts.
Eliminate time wasters. A big part of being effective as a committee is making the most out of the time that you have to carry out your duties. A lot of time can be wasted and hazards can be overlooked when inspections and meetings are not carried out properly. Meetings need to be planned in advance, and distractions need to be eliminated. Put your phone away unless it is required to show other members a picture of what was identified during an inspection. If a presentation is being made, make sure that the technology used has been tested and everything is ready to go prior to the meeting as technological issues can waste valuable time. Make sure that an agenda is prepared in advance so all members are well prepared to discuss the topics at hand.