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What is a workplace safety committee?
A safety committee is a group of employees dedicated to improving safety at your company. Effective committees inspire the workforce to self-regulate operations. They increase the staff’s overall commitment to safety. In a way, it’s an employee engagement program with a narrow focus.
Follow these tips for creating a successful safety committee:
- Write a mission statement
- Encourage diverse viewpoints
- Set specific goals
- Provide the resources to fix problems
- Follow best practices for effective meetings
Why should I create a safety committee?
A reduction in workers’ compensation premiums is the monetary incentive. Fewer injuries is the human incentive. A positive work environment is the reward.
The ultimate goal is a safer workplace. You may not reach the goal of zero accidents. But when there is an incident, your team will respond more quickly. Plus, you may be required to have a committee.
How will a safety committee help my business?
- Fewer injuries and accidents
- Lower workers’ comp premiums
- Employees taking ownership of workplace safety
- Increase awareness of best practices
- Improved labor-management cooperation
- Provide a safe forum for employees to bring up issues
- Improved employee satisfaction and morale
- Protection from safety violations and penalties
How do I create a safety committee?
Each company has unique needs. Large companies will need a large committee. But the diversity of processes is important. A 500-employee one-product factory may need a 10-person committee. A 200-employee facility that builds/packs/ships 20 products may need a larger one because of the breadth of operations.
Assign a Director
A good point person is critical. They must be committed and capable. They must be able to motivate employees at every level. On top of that, they need to understand all the safety issues at play. Choose your chairperson carefully. If you can’t find one person that fits the bill, consider co-chairs. One to lead and communicate. And one to organize and drive progress.
Make sure the membership represents every department. Start by asking for volunteers. If you don’t get any takers, recruit the team experts. They have the experience and tribal knowledge. Bring in managers and entry-level personnel.
You don’t need a group of like-minded people. The only thing they need is a commitment to improvement. Don’t dismiss those who criticize management about operations. Diverse viewpoints are important. They may have valid reasons for their criticism. An antagonist can help the group tackle tough issues.
What does a safety committee do?
- Create best practices for safe operations
- Create orientation/training programs
- Conduct safety training
- Increase employee safety awareness
- Encourage employees to bring up safety concerns
- Investigate safety events (injuries, accidents, close calls)
- Write and update safety manuals
- Perform inspections
- Correct problems that could cause accidents
- Review claim summaries
- Write policies for dispute resolutions
- Develop safety checklists
- Advocate for employee safety
- Gather feedback from labor
- Facilitate management/worker collaboration
- Lead evacuation or shelter-in-place drills
- Ensure compliance with safety-related workplace laws
Meet regularly, at least every month. Create a schedule at least a year out. Set ground rules for collaboration. Insist on professional decorum. Show respect and expect the same.
Write a Mission Statement
Clarify the role of the committee. Specify exactly what you want to do. Then assign each member a role and list their duties. Hold members accountable for their assignments.
Set goals. Both short-and long-term. Prioritize them. You probably can’t tackle everything at once.
Most people have heard of the SMART guide for goals. It applies here. Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Create a realistic timeline for achieving goals. Review monthly and adjust your tactics as necessary.
Give The Committee The Resources They Need
If the committee identifies a problem, give them what they need to solve it. That’s the whole point. If the committee doesn’t have power and resources, you are just paying lip service to safety. Your members will lose motivation. Distrust of management will increase.
Tips for Productive Meetings
Create an agenda. Here is a sample:
- Review minutes of last meeting
- Review of recent incidents
- Discuss inspection reports
- Follow-up on assignments
Document the committee’s work and progress. Share this information throughout the company. You can include it on an HR portal. Email a safety committee newsletter. Post a summary on the wall. Publicize your company’s commitment to safety. When it comes time to rotate members, you are more likely to get willing volunteers. People want to a be a part of something worthwhile. If employees experience a safer workplace, they won’t think the committee is a waste of time.
Make It Fun (Or At Least Interesting)
Safety committees are notorious for dying after a few months. To maintain motivation, keep things fresh. Here are some ideas:
- Write a script and record a video
- Reward employees who go above and beyond
- Go on a field trip
- Create an employee incentive program
- Do creative team-building exercises
- Have engaging guest speakers
- Assign a member to give a presentation
Rotate membership in and out of the committee. As well as functions within the committee. Stay flexible, though. If you have a star performer in a role no one else wants, let them own it.
SwipeClock’s WorkforceHUB is a unified HR portal. It makes it easy to set up and manage safety committees. Visit WorkforceHUB for more information.
By Liz Strikwerda
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