How to make the most of safety committees
 June 1, 2013

Are safety committees always a good idea? Generally yes they are, but there are several pitfalls you need to be aware of. If you are not careful, they can derail and compromise your organization's safety program. Make sure you consider these success measures:

  • Don't forget to ask why prospective participants want to serve on the safety committee. Your safety committee members usually join the committee for a reason (unless they were simply assigned to the committee). To get the most from your committee, you should ask all the members why they are there and what they'd like to accomplish during their tenure.
  • Don't try and make the committee your safety police. There may be a few employees who want to serve in this role when it comes to safety, but most do not. Your safety committee generally will not have the authority to enforce safety policy, so essentially you're asking them to find safety violations and rat out their fellow employees to supervisors who can actually enforce policy. If you use your safety committee to police the safety activities of other employees, you'll find that your pool of volunteers will shrink quickly.
  • Don't let the committee wander aimlessly. Your safety committee needs to know what its purpose is and what tools and resources it has at its disposal. Make sure they have objectives. You can accomplish this by either working collaboratively with the committee or developing a set of guidelines.
  • Don't forget to recognize safety committee participants. Your safety committee members are investing their time and effort into the safety program. Don't let them sit in the shadows going unrecognized. Recognition can take many forms including a special lunch out or public praise. If you choose to recognize the committee in some public way, be sure you recognize each member and not simply "the safety committee." Let the other employees know who the individuals on the safety committee are.

Get the Most from Your Committee
A well-run safety committee can give you a peer-driven review of safe work habits, as well as additional insight into illness and accident exposures in your organization. And when you enhance your employees' safety IQ, they become fully invested in minimizing the risk of OSHA citations, fines, and work related injuries.

Safety committees:

  • Should consist of both management and processing employees.
  • Can help review and update safety programs and safe work practices.
  • Should review accident investigations to look for other potential causal factors (i.e., workplace hazards) and to recommend corrective actions.
  • Could be involved with reviewing safety suggestions and recommending corrective action.
  • Could also be used as a pipeline for employees to report unsafe working conditions or unsafe work practices. Safety committee members can then bring these concerns to the committee and then to management.

Safety committees are usually positive contributors to the organization. In addition to reducing the incidence of work related injuries, they make the operation run smoother. For more information on safety committees contact us at wcgroup@cmta.net.

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