Tips for Creating an Effective Safety CommitteeBack to The PIG® Library
Every company can benefit from an organized, functional safety committee. The success of the committee will depend on the purpose, personnel makeup, responsibilities assigned and support from company management. New Pig has created a successful safety committee based on these factors, and now enjoys benefits such as increased awareness of safety issues, quick response to safety related issues, cooperation between employees and management in solving safety issues and a reduction in worker's compensation insurance premiums.
The basic function of every safety committee should be to encourage and maintain a safe work environment. A safety committee should foster a sense of ownership by giving employees an opportunity to directly improve safety and reduce injuries within a company, while enhancing communication between management and employees.
To achieve this, a commitment to safety must become a shared responsibility between management and employees. Members of New Pig's safety committee are responsible for developing and reviewing safety procedures and policies, investigating and reviewing accidents and communicating safety issues or policies to company employees.
Guidelines for success
The makeup of the safety committee can vary depending on the needs, size and type of company. What follows are a few of the elements that New Pig found successful when creating its safety committee:
- Appoint a chairperson or leader. This person must display leadership skills such as organization, dedication, have an excellent working knowledge of the company and command respect from other members.
- Diverse membership. The committee should be comprised of an equal number of management and non-management employees that represent all areas within the company such as manufacturing, maintenance, shipping/receiving, and office personnel. Limiting the size of the committee to 4 – 12 members will help keep meetings moving and to allow for everyone to be involved. These members should have knowledge of company operations, safety hazards, possess a strong teamwork attitude and be able to effect change within your company's safety program.
- Effective meetings. Meetings should be scheduled at least monthly with a planned agenda and last no more than 1 hour in length. Limiting meetings to 1 hour keeps things moving and the agenda on track. In addition, it helps limit the time employees must spend away from their daily job duties.
- Set an agenda. The agenda of a meeting may vary, but typical ones include: record of attendance, review of recent accidents/injuries, unfinished or new business, safety inspection reports, special projects or presentations.
- Document the committee's efforts. A written record of the meeting's proceedings should be prepared by the committee's designated secretary. Previous month's meeting minutes should be discussed at each meeting, as well as any follow-up actions from the meetings. Minutes of the meetings should be distributed to all members, posted for company employees to read, as well as sent to key management personnel. Maximum benefit will be obtained by publicizing the committee's efforts. Those benefits include increased safety awareness and keeping employees and management updated on the progress of the committee.
Duties and Functions of the Safety Committee
The duties and functions of a safety committee will depend on the needs of the company and hierarchical structure of the organization. However, typical responsibilities of the safety committee and its members may include:
- Conducting periodic safety inspections. Inspections should not only include production areas, but should cover offices, warehouse areas, and the outside of the facility. New Pig's safety committee members document unsafe conditions by taking digital pictures of the situation. The photo is then shared at the monthly meeting as well as stored in an electronically shared folder for future reference.
- Assessing injuries. Reviewing the causes and circumstances of accidents/injuries and suggesting corrective action.
- Training employees. New Pig keeps employees informed by posting information on the company's intranet site (OINKX), disseminating information at employee meetings, and conducting training sessions.
- Periodic reviews. Review of existing company safety policies and developing new ones.
- Gathering employee input. Listening to suggestions by employees, reporting them to the committee and making appropriate recommendations to management.
- Getting management involved. Offering suggestions to management for the improvement of the safety program.
- Creating employee awareness. Observing unsafe conditions or work practices, and reporting them to the committee, supervisors or management.
Every company can benefit from having an organized and functional safety committee staffed with involved, contributing employees. They not only create a safer work environment, but also help involve other employees in the monitoring, education, investigation and evaluation of the company's safety effort. Additionally, their commitment to safety can impact the company's bottom line by reducing the number of costly accidents and injuries.