In our experience safety committees are key to “self managing” safety, not only at big companies, but for small companies well.
We have helped many of our small clients create and manage safety committees and have put together this brief set of bullet point considerations to help ensure a successful safety committee and potential pitfalls as well.
Keys to a successful Safety Committee:
- Must have management commitment
- Should have a scope or charter to identify what the committee is responsible for. Some activities can include:
- Reviewing injuries and incidents to identify corrective actions or prevention solutions
- Assist with incident investigations
- Participate in workplace inspections and hazard identification
- Recommendations or facilitation of safety training
- Developing safe work practices
- Committee should be a majority of employees with 1-2 management representatives. Depending on facility size, recommended size is between 5-10 employees.
- This is really designed so employees can feel empowered to bring up issues.
- The management representatives can bring committee information to senior leadership and provide leadership feedback.
- Established time frame for committee members. Typically 1 year.
- Initially, members should be volunteers, and then continue the volunteer aspect or election by employees
- Should have offices, Chair, Vice-Chair, Recorder, etc with defined roles.
- Members need to be trained on their roles and responsibilities. If they will be doing inspections, they should be trained on hazard recognition, building Job Safety Analysis, reviewing
- Meetings should be scheduled with fixed dates and time. Agenda’s and minutes generated.
- Committee members are required to attend except in an emergency.
- Identify short and long term goals
- Publish the minutes publicly so all employee are aware of the committee’s activities.
- Focus on legitimate safety issues instead of turning the meetings into general gripe forums.
- Members should solution based activities and not become the Safety Police. While they can assist with enforcement, being a safety committee members does not mean they should be writing employees up for safety violations.
- Lack of management commitment or response. When committee makes recommendations the response is “No, or too expensive,” it starts a downward spiral.
- Top heavy management representation. This minimizes employee involvement.
- No clear or defined goals, roles and responsibilities. Committee starts to lose focus.
- Members are not trained on what they are supposed to do.
- Insufficient budget/resources. Depending on what the committee will do, it may need resources. Such as the meeting takes place in a specific location, and the committee is constantly bumped for “higher” priority meetings.
- Lack of follow-up on corrective actions or safety recommendations.
- Members lose interest. Typically because they are unable to effect change or management is not taking this seriously.
- Members not allowed to speak openly.
Need Help Creating A Workplace Safety Program or Safety Committee At Your Company?
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