Initiatives foster staff involvement
Lisa Bailey

A joint management-staff committee is engaging posAbilities staff members to help keep health and safety utmost in their minds.

It’s an important and common foundation for everyone at the organization given the diversity of challenges for staff in their various roles and the environments in which they work.

Acting human resources and labour relations director Bouwe Wierdsma says the occupational safety and health (OSH) committee strives to get staff to think about safety in the context of their job, helping to keep it in the forefront.

“With safety, I think it’s important that you keep the conversation going because people — and we all do this — get into certain habits and tend to feel because we have the experience, we may be not so proactive in terms of safety . . . when that happens, there is increased risk that certain things are forgotten and safety might be at risk.”

A number of OSH committee initiatives aim to keep the lines of communication open and to heighten awareness, says human resources assistant and committee administrator Sarina Ram.

Each program at posAbilities, for example, has a safety person who attends the OSH committee’s monthly meetings on a rotating basis.

Volunteering for this role, they provide a direct connection between the committee and staff, sharing information between the two and following up on items.

Bouwe says the safety person is “really helpful for communication with the committee and in hearing from the work floor if there are any issues or suggestions that the committee want to give attention to in terms of safety hazard prevention or safety measures we (can enhance).”

Sarina notes that the OSH committee also brings a safety topic to each program’s staff meeting and holds contests through its newsletter that are attracting a solid level of participation.

Chosen topics are relevant to foster awareness and engagement.

“We’re always trying to look for ways to get people involved,” Sarina says.

The committee welcomes comments and suggestions, such as for training, through the online Employee Resource Centre. Sarina says all correspondence is reviewed by the committee and follow-up appears in the meeting minutes.

“It’s a forum for staff to get information,” she says, adding it’s an option for those preferring anonymity.

Staff who provide their names are followed up with directly.

The OSH committee is also engaging staff through an administrative safety inspection form developed in recent months. Committee members visit each program and check, for example, that required fire and disaster drills are completed, various forms are available and staff know the location of fire extinguishers.

The ultimate goal of all of these activities is “to create and maintain a high level of safety awareness with people in order to prevent injuries,” Bouwe says, adding this contributes to general employee well-being.

– More to come

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