Effective Communication Channels for JHSCs
Existing Communication Networks
Management and workers have access to internal systems such as board meetings, management meetings, employee meetings, newsletters, and, if applicable, union meetings. These vehicles can be useful in sharing JHSC information.
Reviewing Data and Trends
Many workplaces are using technology to gather and analyze information. Computerized systems can make the data more accessible and assist with analytics. Joint health and safety committee members and health and safety representatives can review occupational health and safety trends to enhance worker safety.
Annual JHSC Report
An annual report of JHSC activities is another vehicle for communicating results. It provides a summary of action taken by the JHSC throughout the year and can be used to build confidence in the committee within the workplace. If the JHSC has not had many major issues to deal with over the year, the members may feel that they haven’t accomplished much. However, when all the little items are added up, the real picture of the committee’s activities can create a much different impression. If there is a Board at the workplace, the Board of Directors should receive a copy of the annual JHSC report.
Information Sharing and Dissemination
The accuracy and completeness of the minutes are the responsibility of the chair. They can be very brief, but they should include all the important facts. Some committees identify “who said what”, and others simply record the item and the substance of the discussion.
The minutes ensure that important discussions and decisions are not later forgotten, altered or misunderstood. All committee recommendations should be recorded. Any action items are documented and assigned to an individual, with special attention given to a completion date. Minutes are required under the OHSA, and must be made available to a Ministry inspector if requested.
Minutes should be recorded by one of the committee members unless the committee agrees to have someone else prepare them. Some workplaces have an individual attend meetings exclusively to take and distribute meeting minutes. This person does not vote and is often also available to assist the co-chairs in logistics associated with setting up meetings, preparing agendas, and distributing the minutes.
Communicating JHSC Decisions
The effectiveness of a joint health and safety committee depends on cooperation and respect from everyone in the workplace. If the JHSC is to contribute to improved health and safety, it must communicate with workers, supervisors, managers, inspectors and everyone else who is concerned with eliminating hazards. One of the communication channels for JHSC activities is to circulate or post JHSC minutes. There are other effective techniques for highlighting important developments, such as a special notice distributed to each employee.
Encouraging Open Dialogue and Feedback
Encouraging open dialogue and feedback within the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) is essential for creating a collaborative and positive safety culture.
All members of the committee must demonstrate a willingness to listen and be open to feedback. All committee members must value input from one another. In order to foster a culture of trust within the JHSC, members need to feel safe to express their opinions and share concerns without fear of reprisal.
Co-chairs provide a safe and non-judgmental environment for discussions. The committee, led by the co-chairs, must respect diverse perspectives and ensure that all ideas are treated with equal consideration. Every member must practice active listening during meetings. Everyone needs to give full attention to what each member is saying and acknowledge their contributions.
Create an atmosphere where asking questions is encouraged, especially when members seek clarity on safety matters or want to understand the rationale behind decisions. Share relevant safety data, incident reports, and safety performance statistics with the JHSC members to inform their discussions and decision-making.
Co-chairs can routinely seek feedback from committee members on how to improve the functioning of the JHSC and address any challenges they may be facing. Not everyone comes to the committee with all the required skills to communicate effectively. If it is helpful to provide training on effective communication skills, including active listening, conflict resolution, and assertiveness.
By promoting open dialogue and feedback, the JHSC can create a culture of trust, collaboration, and continual improvement. This approach leads to better safety decision-making, increased employee engagement, and ultimately, a safer and healthier workplace for all.