Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) meetings are an integral part of an effective health and safety program. They give members the opportunity to discuss safety concerns, workplace inspections, policies and procedures, accidents and incidents, and implementation plans. For the safety of all of your workers, make sure you are meeting these basic requirements for your meetings.
Committee members are required to meet at the workplace at least once every three months. However, many organizations find it useful to meet more frequently. You may want to meet more frequently if:
- The industry you work in involves high-risk hazards
- The JHSC is new
- There are several health and safety issues to address
- The meetings tend to take longer than the allotted time
Establish a Meeting Schedule
Meeting dates should be established on a pre-set schedule. (For example, on the first Wednesday of every month.) The next meeting date should be included in the agenda and meeting minutes. The length of past meetings can be used to help determine how much time you should schedule.
Ensure Co-chairs are Engaged
Co-chairs are responsible for leading the meeting and ensuring that their respective members have had the chance to participate. Therefore, electing co-chairs with the skills to lead and encourage interaction helps improve the effectiveness of meetings. Further, the co-chairs should alternate the chairing of each meeting to help improve committee interaction and participation.
Prepare a Meeting Agenda
Agendas for meetings should be prepared by the designated co-chair and distributed in advance of the committee meeting. Agendas are important to the success of the meeting because they ensure that:
- Members know the date, time, and place of the meeting
- Every item the committee considers will receive attention
- Unfinished business will be carried forward
- Members have the opportunity to prepare to discuss the items on the agenda
You can use our sample agenda as a basis for your next meeting.
Ensure Your Meetings Have Enough Members Present
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets minimum requirements for the number of members required to be on your JHSC based on the number of regularly employed workers. Regardless of the size of the workforce, at least two members must be certified members.
However, the OHSA does not specify requirements related to quorums (minimum attendees) for JHSC meetings. The committee can determine its own rules for a quorum, as long as they are consistent with requirements in the OHSA (ie. members representing both workers and the employer must be present). Ideally, both co-chairs are present at every meeting. We recommend including a quorum in your terms of reference that will allow for maximum participation at meetings.
We also recommend training members on workplace-specific hazards to provide them with the knowledge they’ll need to contribute to the JHSC’s goals and meetings. The more knowledgeable your workers are about health and safety, the more productive your meetings will be.
Record and Post Meeting Minutes
Minutes of each meeting must be recorded and available for review by a Ministry of Labour inspector. Minutes should contain:
- Details of all matters discussed
- A full description of issues raised
- Any action recommended by the committee members
- The employer response to the recommendation(s)
Minutes should identify members by job title and not by name. Members’ names should be used for attendance purposes only.
We recommend assigning a committee secretary to take the meeting minutes so the co-chairs can focus on leading the meeting. Download our meeting minutes template.
Compensate Members for Preparation and Meeting Time
A committee member is considered to be at work when preparing for and attending JHSC meetings. Therefore, they are entitled to be paid for this time.
Integrate JHSC Meetings into a Health and Safety Program
While JHSC meetings are an important component of a health and safety program, they alone do not create a safe workplace. Other components of your health and safety program, such as support from senior leaders, training, inspections, and policies must be in place to ensure you make the most of our your JHSC and their meetings.
Meet these requirements and you’ll be on your way to running productive and compliant JHSC meetings. If you need a little help along the way, please contact us. We’re happy to answer any health and safety questions you have.