Workplaces with over 20 people must have an active joint health and safety committee (JHSC) in place—Section 9 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act) makes that clear. But, the JHSC is only as good as its members. How are JHSC members selected? What are the sure-fire ways to select the right people for the job?
Who Needs a JHSC?
According to s.9(2) of the Act, JHSCs are required in workplaces with more than 20 workers. They are also required when an order to an employer is in effect under section 33 (required to meet by order of the minister). Construction projects with fewer than 20 people with respect to which the regulation concerning designated substances applies also need to have a JHSC. The JHSC is comprised of certified worker and management members, and may also include non-certified worker and management members.
How to Select Worker Members
Section 9(8) of the Act states that worker members of the JHSC are to be selected by other workers, except in the cases where the workers are represented by a trade union.
There are many ways that workers might select other workers. For instance:
- If there are exactly enough volunteers to fill vacancies, hold a vote to ensure that there are no objections to any of the volunteers representing workers on the committee
- If there are more volunteers than vacancies, hold an election and allow workers to vote
- If there are not enough volunteers, allow workers to nominate other workers, who may accept or decline a nomination. In cases where there is a lack of volunteers, be sure to get the word out about the benefits of JHSC membership. Once nominations are decided upon, hold a vote
No matter what method you choose, you must ensure that workers have the chance to exercise their right to participate. Do this by giving them an opportunity to vote for the JHSC worker members that will represent them on the committee. When selecting JHSC members, employees should be encouraged to pick colleagues who are up to the task, and who can readily accept and handle the responsibility of being a JHSC member. Employees should consider the following when making a selection:
Passion: Choose a worker who has a passion for workplace health and safety. Having a passion doesn’t mean that the worker has all of the skills required to be an effective member of the JHSC, but that’s where certification training comes in – OSG can teach the skills, but passion is from the heart.
Role Model: Choosing JHSC members is NOT a popularity contest. The selected member should be a positive role model. Choose a worker who leads by example, meaning a worker who follows safety principles and procedures.
Interest: One way to easily discern who would make a great JHSC member is to select workers who have shown an interest in workplace health and safety in general. Having volunteers will make the process of becoming a JHSC member pleasant and exciting for the worker; being forced into a role that is uncomfortable may make the experience seem less exciting.
How to Select Management Members
Section 9(9) of the Act states that management members of the JHSC are to be selected by the employer or constructor. When it comes to choosing management members, employers usually choose managers with:
- Leadership skills
- Organizational commitment attributes
- A good attitude toward health and safety
- People skills
- Time management skills
- The ability to help coach and develop others
How Not to Select Members
Worker members cannot be told they have to join the JHSC, nor can they be bribed to join the committee. While employers can select management members, they should refrain from forcing a management member to join. To do so will only decrease engagement, which will have an overall negative impact on the JHSC.
Who Needs Certification Training?
Training is an investment in your workers. This isn’t a new concept. Maximize your investment by ensuring that JHSC members have the skills required for success, which are taught in JHSC Certification Training Part 1 and 2. Organizations with more than 20 workers require at least one certified management member, and one certified worker member. However, when it comes to training, there is no maximum – the more certified members a committee has, the more knowledgeable, efficient, and effective they’ll be! Some companies choose to certify all members so that they know their JHSC will run like a well-oiled machine.
Written by Jenn Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator
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