Joint Health and Safety Committee transitions set to begin pilot in Building Operations, Energy & Water, and Student Housing & Hospitality Services

In order to enhance our safety culture, UBC is redesigning our University Health and Safety Committee (UHSC). Starting in April, Risk Management Services (RMS) will pilot a new structure with Building Operations, Energy & Water Services, and Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS)—departments whose work puts them at higher risk for safety issues. Once the pilot is completed, the transition will take place across UBC, completing on November 1, 2017.

Through this program, RMS will be helping the Vancouver campus move from one large University Health & Safety Committee (UHSC)—which covers the entire campus and its diverse employee groups—to a cluster of smaller Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees “JOHSC,” which will cover each employee group within a single VP’s portfolio. Each JOHSC will report their safety recommendations up through revised structures under one of our VPs.

“By this change, we’re trying to make everyone’s accountability and responsibility more real to them,” says Bruce Anderson, Director of Occupational and Research Health and Safety in RMS. “Our role will be to support each group by providing effective governance and helping them understand their personal role in our safety culture.”

For example, under the new structure Building Operations will now have four JOHSCs, one for each of their main areas of business. These will gather and respond to safety recommendations from their respective Local Health and Safety Committees (LHSC), make strategic safety recommendations, and report their findings within the VP Finance & Operations portfolio.

“Safety culture has come a long a way in Building Operations. The new JOHSC structure will help us continue to improve by learning from incidents across campus and supporting injury prevention through awareness, training, and support for our workforce to reduce systemic hazards,” says Karyn Magnusson, Managing Director, Building Operations. “We will also be able to better track and account for the effectiveness of the safety programs we have put in place.”

Joining Building Operations in the pilot will be Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS). SHHS employs almost 1,700 people who work in specialized roles with specific safety concerns. They will have a single new JOHSC, one of four new JOHSCs within the VP Students portfolio.

“We see that safety is everyone’s responsibility and we work hard to create an outstanding and safe workplace culture,” says Andrew Parr, Managing Director, SHHS. “By moving accountability for our safety programs into our immediate control we can be more nimble; we can create programs more closely tailored to our work and we can respond more quickly to what we’re hearing from our front line staff.”