Loss Control Insights for Public Sector

5 Can’t-Miss Ideas for Safety Committees

Workers

Safety committees are a great way to increase employee involvement in safety while also making your programs more effective. Depending on your state, there may be financial incentives for establishing a safety committee, or there may be regulations requiring you to do so.

But once you get your safety committee started, what should they be doing? We’ve got some ideas to help make your committee as effective as possible.

Investigate Workplace Injuries

If your organization has experienced an employee injury in the previous month, the safety committee should get to the bottom of it—in the safety business, we refer to this as accident investigation. Accident investigation is the process of sorting out the facts of a workplace incident to identify the true cause(s), then coming up with corrective measures to keep the same thing from happening again.

Never conducted an accident investigation before? No problem. We’ve got a free Accident Investigation Program that outlines everyone’s responsibilities. It includes steps the committee should take and forms you can use to document the process. Committee members may want to check out EMC’s accident investigation online training for help getting started.

Depending on your organization, you may also conduct incident investigations for non-employee injuries that occur on your property (for example, a slip and fall injury in a parking lot). If you don’t have any active investigations, consider checking in on open workers’ compensation claims to see how they are progressing.

Consider What Might Have Been

Ideally, your safety committee members should come from a variety of departments and levels of seniority. That 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.

A near-miss is what you probably would refer to as a “close call”—an unplanned event that didn’t result in an injury or damage, but it had the potential to do so: the falling debris that didn’t actually hit anyone, or the employee who slipped on a constantly-damp surface but managed to catch himself before he fell. Near-miss incidents may be observed by your committee members naturally, reported to them by coworkers or you may have an actual near-miss reporting system in place.

Hunt for Hazards (and Solutions)

Members of your safety committee can make a real difference by looking for hazards before they result in injuries. Hazard identification doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require some intentional effort. Conduct walk-throughs of work areas or survey employees in different department looking for tasks that are likely to cause injuries. A great trick is to ask employees what jobs they don’t like to do. You’ll often find that workers dislike tasks that are physically demanding or that are 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 (like 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.

It’s smart 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, the committee should go back to the drawing board to find something that will work better.

Update Your Safety Programs

Your safety programs should be reviewed annually to make sure they are up to date, and the beginning of the year is a great time for your safety committee to do this. Look for changes in procedures, available equipment, facilities or contact people.

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. Good bets for most organizations are fleet safety and slip and fall prevention, but you may also need programs for bloodborne pathogens, confined space or lockout/tagout.

Extra Credit: Safety Topic of the Month

Occasionally, safety committees may be so effective that they work their way through all the activities listed above and aren’t sure where to go next. At this point, you may want to introduce a monthly safety topic. Start by finding a relevant or timely topic and some information—check out our list of online training courses, Tech Sheets and Safety Briefs for ideas. Watch the training together or discuss the document as a group, then have each committee member share the topic with their own department.

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