Loss Control Insights
Safety Committee Ideas and Topics (updated February 2021)
Safety committees are a great way to involve and engage employees while also increasing your safety program’s effectiveness. Depending on your state, you may even be eligible for financial incentives for establishing a safety committee, or there may be regulations requiring you to do so.
After forming a safety committee, you may be wondering, “What now?” To ensure your committee’s ongoing success, you’ll need to develop a clear plan of action. The safety committee ideas and best practices outlined below will help you do just that.
Investigate Workplace Injuries
If your organization experiences an employee injury, have your safety committee get to the bottom of it with an accident investigation. As one of the most effective tools in reducing workplace injuries, an accident investigation gives insight on the root causes of accidents and the corrective measures needed to prevent them in the future.
Depending on your organization, you may also want to conduct incident investigations for nonemployee injuries that occur on your property. For example, a customer is injured after a slip or fall in your parking lot.
Never conducted an accident investigation before? No problem. Use our free, customizable accident investigation program that outlines the steps your committee should take. It also includes forms you can use to document the process. Committee members may want to check out EMC’s accident investigation online training before getting started.
It’s also a good idea to have your committee periodically look at workers’ compensation claims to identify trends and steps your organization can take to keep these accidents from happening again.
You shouldn’t only look at incidents that resulted in an injury. Near-miss incidents, or what you might refer to as “close calls,” are extremely important in identifying safety shortfalls. A near-miss is an unplanned event that didn’t result in an injury or damage, but it had the potential to do so. For example, the falling debris that almost hit someone or the employee who slipped on a wet surface but managed to catch themselves before they fell.
Ideally, your safety committee members should come from a variety of departments and levels of seniority. This broad reach makes them perfect for gathering reports of near-miss incidents, which can then be examined by the committee using a process similar to accident investigation. Near-miss incidents may be observed by your committee members naturally, reported to members or management by employees or submitted via a near-miss reporting system.
Hunt for Hazards (and Solutions)
Members of your safety committee can make a real difference by looking for hazards before they result in injuries. Members should conduct walk-throughs of work areas or survey employees in different departments about tasks that are likely to cause injuries. A great way to identify potential hazards is asking employees what jobs they don’t like to do. You’ll often find that workers dislike tasks that are physically demanding or unfamiliar—two factors that increase the risk of injury.
Once you’ve identified a hazard, work with the impacted employees to come up with corrective actions. The best solutions are those that completely eliminate the hazard, substitute safer methods/materials or isolate the workers from the hazard—for example, installing machine guards.
Training and personal protective equipment are usually the least effective at protecting employees, so reserve those for times when no other control methods are available.
You’ll also want to review corrective actions once they’ve been in place for a while to see if they have been effective in preventing accidents and near-miss incidents. If not, have the committee go back to the drawing board to find a better solution.
Update Your Safety Programs as a Group
Review your safety programs annually to make sure they are up to date. Look for changes in procedures, available equipment, facilities and contact people. This is also the perfect time to rotate in new committee members. New members bring fresh ideas and perspectives, as well as renewed energy and excitement.
If you don’t have written safety programs in place, check out our free Safety Program Templates. Choose the programs that address hazards your employees face. Many organizations will benefit from templates covering fleet safety and slip and fall prevention, but you may also need programs for bloodborne pathogens, confined space or lockout/tagout.
Refresh Your Safety Committee Meeting Topics
Once you have a solid program and plan in place, you may want to introduce activities that make safety a little more exciting. Try inviting guest speakers, scheduling some meetings at a nearby restaurant or park, or introducing a safety topic of the month.
Safety committee meeting topics can cover common causes of past injuries, a new technique or piece of equipment, seasonal warnings or updates on a familiar safety topic. EMC has a robust collection of online training courses, Tech Sheets, Safety Briefs and videos that you can use as a starting point. Watch the training together or discuss the document as a group, then have each committee member share the information with their own department or team.