How to Make the Most of Safety Committees
Original article http://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com
By Chris Kilbourne
If you have a safety committee or are thinking of starting one, you should watch out for some missteps that can derail your committee’s effectiveness. Here’s how to avoid a few of them.
Don’t turn it into the safety police: While you may have a few employees who enjoy “bossing” people around when it comes to safety, 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 it wander aimlessly: Your committee needs to know what its purpose is and what tools and resources it has at its disposal to get anything done. You can accomplish this by either working collaboratively with the committee or handing it a prewritten set of guidelines.
Don’t forget to ask why they’re there: Your safety committee members joined the committee for a reason (assuming they weren’t simply assigned to it). 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 forget to recognize them: Your safety committee members are putting time and effort into the safety program-—usually above and beyond their fellow employees. Don’t let them sit in the shadows going unrecognized. Recognition can include refreshments at their meetings, a special lunch out, or a shout-out at an employee meeting. A note here: 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.
Don’t sell them short: Often employers don’t take full advantage of the skills employees have that aren’t directly related to their jobs. Find out which skills and passions your safety committee members have and tap them to accomplish things in your safety program (for example, developing training sessions or creating organized systems). You will likely be amazed at the resources you have sitting around the table.
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 investigations. And when you enhance your employees’ safety IQ, they become fully invested in minimizing the risk of citations, fines, and workers’ comp awards.
- Should consist of both management and hourly 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, when designed and implemented the right way, are incredibly effective at helping companies reduce accidents, injuries, and fines. OSHA places a high value on safety committees but doesn’t make them mandatory–however, several states do.