In honour of North American Occupation Health & Safety Week, May 3 -9, we are continuing the theme of health & safety in your start up business all month!  

Today we have CFIB’s health and safety expert, Business Resource counselor Geneviève Coupal joining us today for an interview about getting a Health & Safety Committee formed in your start up. You can learn more about Geneviève at the end of her interview.

Q and A: Starting Up a Health and Safety Committee at Your Start Up

Q1: What do you think is the most challenging aspect for a business setting up a health and safety committee?

A1: It all starts with buy-in and establishing the right conditions for success. The launch of a new health and safety committee depends highly on getting a clear mandate from both the employer and the employees.

Q2: What is a typical problem experienced by a business when it starts a health and safety committee?

A2: Seeing as how the committee will include the employer’s and the employees’ representatives, it is important to be able to hear and develop a common perspective, despite the reality of different, often competing, interests.

Q3: For a business just starting to think about setting up a health and safety committee, where should they be focusing attention?

A3: To ensure the smooth functioning of the health and safety committee, it is essential that members commit to the effort in good faith. A key to its success will involve a willingness to solve problems. The business also needs to be aware that they will have to compromise.

Q4: What is the single-most important thing for a business to understand about health and safety in the workplace?

A4: It must be clearly communicated that the health and safety committee is operating in the best interests of both the employees and the employer. It is just that simple: everybody wins.

Q5: What types of things does a health and safety committee do?

A5: Generally speaking, the committee will identify workplace risks and hazards and then find ways to avoid or reduce them. The committee will also take suggestions and complaints on health and safety. They take action that sensitizes employees on the importance of health and safety (including information sessions, webinars, and training). The role also involves analyzing accidents, finding preventative solutions, and choosing proper protective equipment.

Now that Geneviève  has given us some great considerations for forming a health and safety committee at your small business, please join us on Wednesday of next week, when we will discuss steps and resources for setting up a committee in your workplace.


Small Business Support StaffGeneviève Coupal has been a Business Counsellor with CFIB for over 17 years, specializing in occupational health and safety (OHS). She responds to more than 2,000 questions each year from CFIB members, in both French and English, with approximately 15% of the calls about OHS. Over the course of her career, she has helped more than 5,000 small business owners with their OHS concerns.

 Geneviève holds a B.A. in Business Administration and is currently taking graduate courses in health and safety at the University of Sherbrooke in Québec. Geneviève is also a Certified Human Resources Professional.

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