Question: What is the function of a safety committee and what are the benefits of establishing such a committee within an organization?
Answer: Safety committees can serve a variety of functions, depending on the facility’s safety culture, the amount of training they receive as committee members and the amount of time that management allows committee members to dedicate. Some of the more common functions for safety committees include:
- Being a liaison group between employees and management
- Increasing awareness of safety at the facility
- Identifying workplace risks and creating a plan (or making recommendations) to reduce risks
- Integrating safety and health priorities into corporate culture
- Encouraging safety training for employees and management
- Conducting and evaluating audits
- Performing routine safety inspections
Effective safety committees are diverse and should include employees from all company departments: manufacturing, distribution, maintenance, front office staff, etc. They also receive training on a variety of safety topics to make them more aware of and help eliminate workplace safety hazards. Safety managers often oversee this committee, but are present in an advisory or supporting role only.
The benefits of establishing a safety committee are plentiful. From a purely financial standpoint, most insurance companies offer incentives or discounts to facilities that establish and maintain safety committees. Some carriers even offer complimentary trainings for committee members.
Safety committee members are also on-the-job safety advocates. Because of their training, they are additional eyes and ears in their departments and can help identify potential problems and bring them to the attention of the safety manager for correction before incidents occur.
When there is an incident, safety committee members have the knowledge to complete incident reports, conduct interviews and look for the true cause of the incident. These skills also help them make recommendations to prevent future incidents.
Creating and maintaining a safety committee will take time and resources. But the investment is worth it when compared to the cost of an employee injury, illness or death.
Ready to get started? Check out this article with tips on how to start a safety committee at your facility.