THE JHSC: Use Form to Help Committee Improve the Efficiency of its Meetings

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Is your company’s JHSC achieving real safety results? Or is it just going through the motions? One of the key factors that influence a JHSC’s effectiveness is how meetings are actually carried out. Although  housekeeping details, meeting organization and structure might seem minor, they’re critical to the JHSC’s success. We’ll tell you about a template suggested by Brian Smith, National Health and Safety Manager for Kuehne + Nagel Ltd., that your JHSC can use to organize and structure its meetings to enhance their productivity.

JHSC MEETING TEMPLATE: Download a Model JHSC Meeting Template that you can give to your JHSC.

 

Defining Our Terms

Under OHS laws, JHSCs must hold two basic kinds of meetings:

  • Regular meetings typically held every month or quarter; and
  • Special meetings, such as those held after an incident, to address a work refusal or stoppage or to plan for the following year.

This article focuses on regular JHSC meetings.

 

Why JHSC Meetings Are So Important

JHSC meetings are important not only because the OHS laws require them but also because they allow workers and members of management to sit down and review the company’s OHS program. Meetings are an opportunity to identify and correct flaws in the program and the improvements that need to be made in light of actual experience and new OHS requirements. The communication, feedback and ideas generated at the JHSC meeting can be crucial to OHS program evaluation and management—and thus compliance with OHS laws.

But this potential can’t be harnessed unless the meetings are run effectively. For example, disorganized meetings can quickly degenerate into time wasting shouting matches from which nothing positive can emerge. The negative feelings and frustration such meetings produce further undermine the JHSC and its credibility in the eyes of both management and workers. In addition, if issues discussed at meetings aren’t properly documented, then it’s unlikely that anyone will follow through on resolving them. Thus, one way or the other, the conduct and outcome of JHSC meetings go a long way in determining a company’s health and safety performance and compliance with OHS laws.

Insider Says: For more information on the JHSC meeting requirements in the OHS laws, see “The Joint Health & Safety Committee: How to Comply with JHSC Meeting Requirements.”

 

Advantages of a Meeting Template

How can you ensure that JHSC meetings are organized and run effectively? By using a meeting template such as the one Smith created. He developed this form for his company’s approximately 30 JHSCs for three reasons:

  • Compliance. Smith wanted to make sure that each JHSC was doing what the OHS laws for that jurisdiction required it to do in its meetings;
  • Conformity. Before his JHSCs used the template, Smith would get their meeting minutes in a variety of forms—if he got them at all. Comparing and evaluating the minutes was next to impossible. But since they all began using the same form, it became easier to make comparisons across the company, says Smith; and
  • Accountability. The form has also made it easier to hold the JHSCs and their members accountable. The template draws attention to items in the minutes that aren’t resolved, Smith explains. It also enables the JHSC to track what individual members are doing so the co-chairs can easily determine who to follow up with on each particular issue in the next meeting.

When Smith initially gave the company’s JHSCs this template about 10 years ago, the response was generally positive. He also gave the committees instructions on how to use the form in running their meetings. Over time, the template has been updated and modified. Smith believes that the use of this form has helped the company significantly by making the JHSC meetings more effective and making lingering safety problems more noticeable.

 

Use Template to Improve Effectiveness of Meetings

First, you want to ensure that JHSC meetings are run according to an agenda that’s created by the co-chairs and distributed to members before the meeting. For example, at the JHSC’s regular meetings, the committee will typically cover the following:

  • The minutes of the last meeting;
  • Any old business;
  • The most recent workplace inspection;
  • Any new business, such as safety concerns raised by the workers, recent safety incidents and workers’ comp claims, new equipment in the workplace or government orders; and
  • Any seasonal issues, such as heat stress in the summer and cold stress in the winter.

Unfortunately, the co-chairs sometimes don’t create an agenda or the one they do write up is disorganized, incomplete or isn’t actually followed during the meeting. As a result, the meeting can become very disorganized and issues can get lost in the shuffle.

Example: Suppose a worker has raised a safety concern about a specific piece of equipment, say, the guard is broken. The JHSC discusses this issue in the meeting and decides that the equipment in question should be inspected and a new guard ordered and installed if required. For this issue to be effectively addressed, the JHSC needs to assign the inspection of the equipment to someone and set a deadline by which the inspection should be completed. And this issue and who’s going to take care of it needs to be documented so that the JHSC can follow up in the next meeting and ensure it has been properly addressed.

Here’s where the template comes in handy. The JHSC can use the template to document:

  • Who attended the meeting—and who was absent;
  • Where and when the meeting was held, how long it lasted, who facilitated the meeting and who took minutes;
  • When the next meeting is going to be held and where;
  • All actions the JHSC decided to take, including who’s responsible for the action and a timeframe for its completion;
  • Any recent workers’ comp claims and their status;
  • Any safety incidents, including what happened and how it’s being addressed; and
  • Who’s going to be get a copy of the form, such as senior management, and whether the form was posted in the workplace.

JHSC MEETING TEMPLATE: Download a Model JHSC Meeting Template that you can give to your JHSC.

Insider Says: Another way to ensure that the JHSC’s meetings are effective and efficient is for it to set “rules of procedure” or “terms of reference” that specify, among other things, who’ll run the meeting, the creation of the agenda and how conflicts will be resolved. For more on JHSC rules of procedure, see “The Joint Health & Safety Committee: What Are ‘Rules of Procedure’ & Why Your Committee Needs Them?” 06/10, p. 1.

 

The Bottom Line

As a safety coordinator, you have a vital stake in ensuring that your JHSC not only holds meetings but also actually accomplishes something in them. Effective JHSC meetings will help make your workplace safer and protect workers. And they’ll also help the company prove due diligence if it’s charged with safety violations down the road.

INSIDER SOURCE

Brian Smith: National Health and Safety Manager, Kuehne + Nagel.

 

FREE JHSC Webinar

To learn more about improving your JHSC’s overall effectiveness, OHS Insider members can listen to a FREE 90-minute webinar at www.OHSInsider.com. “The Road to JHSC Excellence: A Practical Plan to Improve Effectiveness, Increase Return on Investment and Win Greater Management Support for Your JHSC” features Brian Smith and Dilys Robertson, an OHS consultant, and shows you how to:

  • Accurately measure the effectiveness of your JHSC using the unique 3 level ”Continuum of Excellence” that immediately shows you how effective your JHSC is now;
  • Identify immediate steps you can take to improve your JHSC and quickly move up to the next level of performance excellence;
  • Achieve greater employee involvement by making your JHSC meetings more interesting and more relevant to your OSH program goals;
  • Win greater management support for your JSHC program using simple, proven techniques that clearly demonstrate JHSC return on investment;
  • Take maximum advantage of best practices, research and case studies from companies across Canada and the US to make your JHSC more effective; and
  • And much more.