If establishing a safety committee at your place of business sounds appealing, there are few questions that you must ask yourself before embarking on this adventure.
- What would be the purpose of a safety committee? A clear mission must be identified. An organization must decide if the mandate will be to lower injury numbers or will it be proactive in identifying workplace hazards? Perhaps the purpose would be to prevent injuries to fellow employees and improve morale throughout the entire company. Another option may be to have the members be involved with hazard correction. A successful committee can do all of these things, but it must be effectively directed. It’s critical that meetings do not simply become “complaint” sessions that only bring down morale.
- Who should be a part of the safety committee? An organization must decide if management should be a part of the committee or will employees feel too intimidated by management to offer any suggestions that might cost money? Many organizations chose to have a person from each business unit be a part of the committee to be sure that everyone’s interests are represented. The most important concern is that the individuals on the team be volunteers who have energy to bring to the committee.
- How often would the committee meet? The answer to this will vary greatly from company to company depending upon industry, size, safety program, and injury history. While some organizations should have monthly meetings others may have to meet more frequently and others might require only quarterly dates. Ensure the meetings are convenient for all participants, even for those that work other shifts or at secondary locations. No matter what the interval of the meetings, it should have an agenda and be started promptly. Waiting for people to show up just encourages “late comers”.
- Where should the committee meet? Meetings should be held away from noisy areas and production floors to prevent distractions. The meeting room should be of an adequate size to contain all the participants comfortably and have audio/visual capabilities. Telephones should be silenced to prevent unwanted interruptions. Computers should only be allowed if integral to the meeting and minutes from each meeting should be kept and disseminated organization wide.
- How are we going to measure the success of the safety committee? It is important to set goals for the committee and compare reality to those goals. Using the SMART Goal formula will improve the odds of success. A safety committee should be able to measure its successes and failures to ensure that the committee doesn’t lose focus and purpose. Being able to show that the group has made a difference will go a long way in keeping the support of upper management.
For more information regarding safety committees, check out the OSHA website. You’ll find a wealth of information related to safety committee formation, expectations, training guides, PowerPoint presentations, and other resources.
For more on the benefits and pitfalls of safety committees MEMIC customers can also access the MEMIC Safety Director resources and attend the upcoming Safety Committee webinar on January 26, 2017.