The purpose of health and safety committee meetings
Health and Safety Committee meetings are for discussing health and safety issues at work. The meeting takes place between Health and Safety Representatives (representing the general staff) and management representatives (OHSA Section 19). The meeting is a platform to discuss incidents that occur in the workplace. It is also a space to address the recommendations made to the employer regarding the workplace health and safety. Another task to tackle in the meeting is writing reports to the Department of Labour, on any incident that occurred at the workplace.
In order to get through all these tasks, your meetings need to be planned and well structured.
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Here are seven steps to make your meetings run smoothly and have effect
1. Be committed
All the members of your committee must be committed to the meeting and the overall Health and Safety Programme. As a committee, set health and safety goals and explain the roles and responsibilities of every committee member in achieving those goals.
2. Go prepared
Don't wait until the last minute before the meeting to read the minutes and prepare your responses. Set up administration roles to ensure minutes are typed and distributed within three days of the meeting.
Poor attendance at health and safety committee meetings is a challenge. If you the employer don't attend, it says you're not committed to health and safety. If your Health and Safety Representatives don't attend, their fellow employees won't get effective feedback. It becomes a ripple effect and cripples the entire Health and Safety Programme.
4. Work according to the agenda
This is one of the most important tips. Drawing up an agenda in advance ensures the meeting focuses on key issues. A committee member can't talk about something, that's not on the agenda. The chairperson must make sure to stick to the agenda
5. Bring props
Demonstrations or even visuals make it easier to explain health and safety issues.
6. The chairperson must chair
Too often, people get sidetracked and use these meetings to discuss other items. As I mentioned earlier, the chairperson needs to maintain order. This may mean cutting off certain conversations, but you need to do this to keep the meeting focused.
7. Hold accountability
It's a good idea for you the employer or a director to attend at least one meeting every three months. This makes committee members accountable. It also govers your safety team a chance to highlight repeat items to senior staff in the organisation.