Q: How can our workplace safety and health committee continue to meet while we practice physical distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: This is a great question! Since many businesses have had to minimize the number of people at their workplace or close their physical doors completely due to the COVID-19 response, they've had to shift gears and begin operating in a new virtual environment.
Here are some tips that can help you temporarily shift from face-to-face committee meetings to virtual ones:
- Select the tools that will work best for the job. For example, web and video conferencing tools, such as Skype, WebEx and FaceTime, can help your committee meet virtually. A telephone conference call is a good back-up option.
- Provide committee members with instructions on how to use the web or video conferencing tools a few days before the meeting and have them test it out.
- Send communication to committee members on how to best set-up their workstations at home to reduce the risk of injury. This SAFE Work Manitoba resource provides detailed information on how to adjust your workstation layout.
- Provide remote access to documents (i.e., the meeting agenda and previous meeting minutes) and/or make sure the documents are emailed to each member prior to the committee meeting as set out in your Terms of Reference.
- Assign someone to capture the minutes of the meeting and distribute them after the meeting.
- Finally, solicit feedback from the group on how your committee meeting went and look for ways to improve.
Workplace safety and health committees and safety and health representatives play an important role in the workplace. Let's do our best to continue to make workplace safety a priority in this new virtual environment.Laura Farmaner is the Portfolio Leader for the Production Portfolio at SAFE Work Manitoba.