Why Create an Employee Safety Committee?
Establishing a workplace-safety committee is one way businesses can involve employees with implementing and improving the company’s safety program. The committee provides a forum for employees and management to work cooperatively to solve health and safety issues. An effective committee can help prevent injury and illnesses on the job; increase awareness of health and safety issues among workers, supervisors, and managers; and develop a culture of safety to make the work environment safe and healthy. Developing a culture of safety in the workplace not only holistically supports the employees, but it’s also proven to directly—positively—impact the company’s bottom line.
Common Safety Committee Tasks
The committee can help share organizational responsibilities for implementing and monitoring the company safety program. Typical responsibilities of workplace-safety committees include:
- Developing safe work practices
- Crafting written safety programs
- Leading safety training
- Conducting workplace inspections and safety audits
- Reviewing incidents, near misses, accident investigation reports, claim summaries and loss analyses to prevent reoccurrences of similar incidents
- Establishing dispute resolution procedures
- Proposing and creating safety checklists.
- Promoting employee interest in health and safety issues.
- Providing a forum in which labor and management can discuss health and safety issues and collaborate on solutions
Ultimately the purpose of safety committees is to help reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses and ensure compliance with federal and state health and safety regulations. The committee is a powerful tool for injury prevention.
Starting a Safety Committee
If you want to have a truly effective safety committee, you must be prepared to invest time, energy and resources in developing it.
Safety committees should be composed of a mixed population of employees and managers, with representatives from both production and administration. Seek out volunteers who will actively contribute to identifying problems and work towards solutions. Committee members must be able to work in a group setting with others outside of their work groups and outside of their departments. Employees on the committee should be problem solvers.
A committee needs a chairperson who is skilled at leading teams as well as discussions. It may not be the employee with most seniority or highest title. A committee needs active leadership from someone that will move things along.
Before convening the first meeting, map out the objectives for the committee, goals and responsibilities, and the resources available to the committee members.
If your company has multiple locations, you may want to establish a safety committee at each one.
Safety Committee Best Practices
- Set a schedule for the committee to meet (for instance, the first Tuesday of every month at 2:00 p.m.) that is as convenient as possible for all members.
- Set goals that are measurable and achievable.
- Publicize photos of the team members to help employees identify the committee.
- Distribute Beacon Safety Alerts and home safety tips to employees to help build a 24/7 safety culture.
- Involve bi-lingual employees to assist with communication.
- Have committee members assist with new hire orientations and the new employee's initial walkthrough of facility.
- Determine the need for sub-committees to take responsibility for some of the priority items. If subcommittees are formed, their work on projects can be advanced by meeting between the full committee meetings. They can then report on their progress at the next meeting of the larger group.
- Keep the length of the full committee meetings to an hour or less.
- Identify high-risk job tasks and develop written safe operating procedures.
- Establish a rotation of committee members.
- Publicize the success and outcomes of the meetings within your company.
- Address legitimate safety issues only. The committee should not be a general gripe forum. Be positive.
- Review goals periodically to determine the effectiveness of the committee and to reset or restate goals and targets
- Annually, review the progress of the committee and the workplace safety at all locations.
Download the Safety Committee Guide Booklet
Beacon’s Safety Committee Guide includes helpful checklists, sample agendas, worksheets and more. Safety committees are most effective when they can identify issues and have the authority and resources to solve them. When a safety committee is working as it should, employees and managers work together proactively to address safety concerns before they cause injuries. Download the guide or contact the Loss Prevention department for more information.