A Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC) may be a legal requirement for tourism businesses but it’s also a great tool for building teamwork, boosting employee engagement and, ultimately, increasing employee retention. Here’s how to make it work for you.
A JOHSC is required for every employer in BC with 20 or more employees. The committee must have a minimum of four members, at least half of whom are hourly workers, and two co-chairs, one elected by workers and one chosen by the employer. Their job is critical: to help ensure health and safety in the workplace.
Besides monthly meetings, committee members participate in inspections and are a point of contact for health and safety queries throughout the hotel. A key task is accident prevention: identifying and finding solutions for safety issues before incidents occurs.
Eleanor Purslow, Director of Human Resources at the 200-employee Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria, co-chairs her hotel’s JOHSC.
The Grand Pacific’s nine-person committee includes more hourly workers than managers, says Purslow. “We try to have someone from each department and also from each shift because we are a 24-hour operation.”
The hotel’s JOHSC, she notes, has had very little turnover: “We have a core group who are really committed. “IN four and a half years only two people have left during that time.”
“We meet once a month for 30 minutes and we also carry out inspections. In addition, we have eight hours a year per member allocated for training,” says Purslow.
The monthly meetings are a great opportunity for people from different departments and shifts – who may not see each other during the work day – to share information, concerns and ideas about health and safety issues.
“The committee really helps promote teamwork and collaboration; everyone feels they can say something — and they do,” says Purslow.
“We approach things from a root cause analysis: basically analyzing incidents to prevent them from happening again. We’ve also been focusing on education and awareness. The JOHSC members have been great ambassadors for health and safety and have been really good at spreading the word in their departments. I think it helps for employees to hear it from their co-workers, rather than just from managers.”
The information flows both ways too. “Everyone at the hotel knows who their representatives are and who to contact in each area,” she adds.
Certificate of Recognition
The Grand Pacific’s JOHSC has also been instrumental in helping the hotel achieve the Certificate of Recognition (COR), a nationally recognized audit and certification program rewarding employers who go beyond legal requirements in implementing their health and safety program.
Says Purslow: “the committee did a lot of work towards achieving COR, including helping to develop and review the risk assessment which was a key part of the process.”
“You have to keep it positive. Even though we are talking about health and safety, we try to have fun with it as well. We joke about being safety geeks and we have a logo and a really colourful safety board: neon green with caution tape,” she says.
“As long as you’re committed to letting everyone have a voice it’s a great process. Working as a committee, it may take a little longer to reach a solution, but you’ll reach a better solution in the end.”