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.
Companies that have a successful safety committee 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 workers’ 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. Safety committee members 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. Consider the following elements when creating a safety committee:
- Appoint a chairperson or leader: This person must display leadership skills such as organization, dedication, excellent working knowledge of the company and 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 the company’s safety program.
- Effective meetings: Meetings should be scheduled at least monthly with a planned agenda and last no more than 1 hour. Limiting meetings to 1 hour keeps things moving and the agenda on track. In addition, it limits 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 and/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. Meeting minutes should be distributed to all members, posted for all 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. Document unsafe conditions by taking digital pictures of the situation. The photo should then be shared at the monthly meeting, as well as stored in an electronically shared folder for future reference.
- Assessing injuries: Review the causes and circumstances of accidents/injuries and suggest corrective action.
- Training employees: Keep employees informed by posting information on the company’s intranet site, disseminating information at employee meetings and conducting training sessions.
- Periodic reviews: Review existing company safety policies and develop new ones.
- Gathering employee input: Listen to suggestions by employees, report them to the committee and make appropriate recommendations to management.
- Getting management involved: Offering suggestions to management for the improvement of the safety program.
- Creating employee awareness: Observe unsafe conditions or work practices, and report them to the committee, supervisors or management.
Every company can benefit from having an organized and functional safety committee staffed with involved, contributing employees. A safety committee will 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, the commitment to safety can impact the company’s bottom line by reducing the number of costly accidents and injuries.