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Safety Committees: A Guide for Getting Started

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It’s been said, time and time again, that safety is everyone’s job. There is no better example of that statement in action than a well-organized and managed safety committee.

A safety committee is a group of employees who come together to help detect workplace hazards, analyze and solve problems and assist with safety management. Having worked with many organizations to establish and maintain safety committees, Jim Janak, Charlotte Branch Risk Improvement Supervisor, offers the following advice to develop a committee and improve those already in place.

Getting Started

Developing a safety committee is one way management can encourage employees to participate in and monitor an organization’s safety program. Success is often determined once a committee is organized.

  • Get management support—Management should establish an adequate budget for the group and give employees the time to attend committee meetings and accomplish assigned tasks.
  • Diversity is crucial—The committee should have representation from a number of areas, including management, supervisors, frontline workers and union representatives, as needed. To provide an open forum for employees, management representation should be kept to a minimum. Be sure to include people with a range of experiences, from different departments and different age groups.
  • Keep things fresh—Establish committee membership terms that will allow for new people and perspectives. Leaders should serve three- to five-year terms, while general members should rotate every one to three years.
  • Set realistic goals—Identify key goals to address annually. These may range from reducing lost days, the experience mod or a specific type of injury. EMC can provide data to help identify focus areas.

Improving Your Safety Committee

Once a safety committee is established, the real work begins—detecting hazards, analyzing and solving problems and assisting with safety management.

  • Be proactive—Don’t wait for a safety issue or accident to schedule a safety committee meeting. The committee should meet on a regular basis with a specific agenda for each meeting. Members should be required to attend these meetings except in emergency situations.
  • Communicate—The meeting minutes should identify the progress the committee has made in addressing safety issues and outline any next steps. The minutes should be provided to each committee member, management and interested employee.
  • Follow through—Committees can get sidetracked by employee complaints. Stay focused on identifying problems, seeking solutions and following through on the impact of those solutions.
  • Celebrate accomplishments—Make it a point to recognize committee milestones and accomplishments. Remember to thank management and employees for making those achievements possible.

Safety Committees Work

A safety committee provides many benefits to an organization—most importantly, empowering employees to help make decisions for a safer workplace.

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