Internal and external objectives needed for success
It is no secret that one of the main ways to measure the effectiveness of your health and safety committee is to assess the quality of objectives they set and complete each year.
I have often heard it said that since the health and safety committee is meeting all the legislative requirements, they are working effectively. Certainly complying to the legislative requirements for health and safety committees is important. However, meeting occupational health and safety legislation is just a minimum requirement for measuring committee success and it does not measure how effective the committee is in the workplace.
Setting health and safety committee objectives are a great way to help reinforce your organization’s health and safety program plans for the year. Objectives can also be used to raise the visibility of the health and safety program in the workplace.
We can break your committee objectives into two broad categories: internal and external committee objectives. There can be overlap in these categories.
When a committee first starts up, or is struggling, internal objectives are the ones that should be set for a committee. Internal objectives are objectives that help the committee operate more effectively. Examples of internal objectives are:
- All meetings will start within three minutes of the set starting time.
- All agenda items must be submitted within 10 days of the meeting to the chairperson.
- No agenda item can stay on the meeting minutes longer than three months.
The above are examples your committee might have chosen to use to ensure that it is working well internally.
Ideally, when your committee is functioning at a high level, your objectives will be external and will benefit the workplace rather than just the committee itself. Some simple examples of External objectives are:
- The committee will hold three lunch-and-learn sessions on health and safety topics this fiscal year. January will be “Coping with Shiftwork.” May will be “Why Incident Reporting is Important,” and October is “Fire Safety.” Pat and Cynthia will organize these sessions.
- The committee will help the employer promote the use of anti-slip matting on the shop floor. Dave to work with Frank to ensure the flyers are posted at all entrances to the building and the lunchroom on this topic. This will be done by June this year.
- The safety committee will set up a schedule and the topics for the safety videos that will be shown at all staff meetings. See document reference D346 for schedule of dates, topics and who is responsible for each date.
The above examples are taken from real work site committees and show how external objectives can be set to benefit the overall workplace.
Always remember that your objectives must be measurable and realistic. They must have timeframes for completion and persons assigned to them. Committee objectives are often set for the year and at each committee meeting are reviewed to ensure they are completed according to the set time frames.
Next time your health and safety committee is setting objectives, remember how internal and external objectives can help.
Paul Langan has been a national laboratory health and safety co-ordinator for 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.