Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 12(2) April 2009 : 86-93.doi:10.12927/hcq.2009.20666
Special Focus on HHR

Form and Function of Joint Health and Safety Committees in Ontario Acute Care Hospitals

Kathryn Nichol, Irena Kudla, Michael Manno, Lisa McCaskell, Joseline Sikorski and D. Linn Holness


Even though joint health and safety committees (JHSCs) have been in existence in Ontario workplaces for almost 30 years and healthcare workers are at high risk for workplace injury, there has been little research done related to JHSC functioning in Ontario's healthcare sector. In his recent review of the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Toronto, Justice Archie Campbell found that JHSCs in Ontario hospitals were not fulfilling their intended roles and responsibilities. The objective of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the role, resources, structure and functioning of JHSCs in Ontario hospitals.

A cross-sectional survey of JHSC co-chairs from all acute care hospitals in Ontario was performed. The results revealed that the strengths of the current state of JHSC functioning in Ontario hospitals include legislative compliance and availability of resources and experts. Gaps in current JHSC functioning include a lack of JHSC member education beyond certification training and suboptimal JHSC status and visibility within healthcare organizations. Further research examining the effectiveness and impact of JHSCs on healthcare worker health and safety is warranted to address the concerns raised in the Campbell report.



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