Safety Committees To Improve Your Safety Program


Employee involvement provides the means through which workers develop and express their own commitment to safety. Employees are often those closest to the hazard and have first-hand knowledge of workplace hazards. The best safety programs, which consistently decrease their workplace accidents and injuries, involve employees at every level regardless of the organization’s size. One of the most effective methods to involve employees and to improve your safety program is through the active efforts of a safety committee.

A well-run safety committee is effective because it utilizes employees’ knowledge and experiences to help identify and resolve problems. Safety committees provide employees the opportunity to be involved in the planning and implementation of safety program efforts. A committee with clear objectives can help get your front-line employees buy-in to safety efforts, which can create a positive safety culture and drive safe behaviors.1 Also, they can directly contribute to higher employee job satisfaction by fostering respectful treatment of all employees at all levels (the #1 job satisfaction contributor) according to the Society for Human Resources Management.2

If you’ve declined starting a safety committee for one reason or another, then reconsider that decision now. To be certain, there is no replacement for a well-run safety committee and the benefit it brings to your workplace.

To ensure a great start in your workplace, consider that healthy and effective safety committees will:

  • Require the support of top management. Also, the top decision-maker at your facility should attend the committee meetings to demonstrate that safety is a priority.
  • Include representatives from various departments and levels in the organization. Remember that volunteers are the best option versus forcing employees to participate.
  • Define their primary responsibilities, function, and extent of authority. Consider having the team focus on preventing the top injury types in your workplace.
  • Engage in numerous activities such as procedure development; review of accidents; identify accident trends; assist with incident investigations; identify, evaluate, and resolve safety and health issues; review safety suggestions; and conduct training.
  • Promote safety and health involvement with other employees by acting as a communication link between employees and management, which is helpful in larger organizations.
  • Hold regular meetings that start and stop on-time. Typically, a monthly meeting will be adequate for most safety committees.
  • Set clear meeting agendas, publish them in advance, and follow them.
  • Take meeting minutes that summarize the issues discussed, the proposed actions and the people responsible for following up on each item. Minutes should be published and provided to each committee member, as well as made available to all employees.
  • Set both short-term (30 to 90 day) goals and long-term (1 year or beyond), which are SMART3 goals.

Consider using one of the many online safety committee resources such as Best Practices for Workplace Safety Committees from, which contain templates with all that is necessary to get your committee started. Get started today and together your team will improve its’ safety program!

Should you require additional assistance with starting and running a safety committee in your workplace, please contact Gary Smith, CRM, at (517) 338-3367 or


  1. ‘Culture Drives Behavior’ Effective safety committees build a strong safety culture; National Safety Council Knowledge Center Safety Article published 2007.
  2. 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: Revitalizing a Changing Workforce; Society for Human Resource Management research published April 18, 2016.
  3. SMART goal criteria at


Posted in 2017, November 2017 | Comments Off on Safety Committees To Improve Your Safety Program

Preventing Injuries With Ergonomics


Ergonomics is the science and practice of designing jobs and workplaces to match the capabilities and limitations of the human body or, more simply, fitting the job to the worker.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2015, musculo-skeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 31 percent of total injury and illness cases for all workers. Work-related MSDs are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time cases. These injuries occur gradually and involve muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and joints of the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, legs and back, which are often referred to as soft tissue injuries.

Ergonomics may be used in all workplaces to prevent MSDs. Workers will experience improved quality of work, improved quality of life, and reduced fatigue and discomfort.

In order to apply ergonomic practices in your workplace, let’s review some basic principles:

Identify Workers with Risk Factors

Evaluate workers performing custodial/janitorial, maintenance/service, and administrative activities to identify those with the common risk factors:

  • Exerting force to perform a task or to use a tool (e.g., lifting tables/chairs or scrubbing with a brush).
  • Working in awkward postures (e.g., bending or twisting the back, overhead reaching for dusting or painting, or mopping with elbows away from the body).
  • Remaining in the same position for a long time with little or no movement (e.g., sitting at desk).
  • Continuous pressure from a hard surface or edge on any part of the body (e.g., improperly adjusted chair and desk height).
  • Working in hot or cold temperatures.
  • Holding equipment that vibrates (e.g., the handle of a pressure washer).

If risk factors are present, then they need to be assessed to determine the significance of the risk.

Assess Significance of Risk Factors

Assess each risk factor to determine if they are likely hazards for MSDs by considering the following three things:

  • Duration (how long) – Usually, duration involves hours of exposure and not just minutes. But, exposure can be cumulative over the day and not just all at one time.
  • Frequency (how often) – Frequency addresses the speed of the work. Lifting
    30 lb boxes more than 5 times per minute can be considered frequent.
  • Intensity (how much) – Refers to force, such as weight in pounds lifted/carried, grip or pinch force, vibration level, and force on keys when typing.

The longer exposure to risk factors and a combination of risk factors will greatly increase the chance for injury. Symptoms such as discomfort, pain, numbness, tingling/burning, swelling/inflammation, changes in skin color and loss of flexibility may likely indicate a MSD. If no changes are made, then symptoms may get worse and result in lost work days.

Methods of Preventing MSDs

These are common methods for controlling MSDs, and rank in their order of effectiveness with the first (i.e., engineering controls) being the most effective.

  • Engineering controls (e.g., redesign work areas to eliminate reaching, bending, or other awkward postures and providing carts for transporting materials)
  • Administrative controls (e.g., providing sufficient breaks, since adequate recovery time can reduce fatigue, and employee training on safe lifting)
  • Safe work practices (e.g. stretching and safe lifting)
  • Personal protective equipment (e.g., knee pads for kneeling and gloves to protect against cold, vibration and rough surfaces). Note: NIOSH recommends that employers do not rely on back belts to protect workers as studies have shown they are not effective in preventing back injuries.

For detailed information on methods of preventing MSDs in your workplace, see the resources provided below.

Should you require additional assistance with ergonomic assessments or training in your workplace, please contact Gary Smith, CRM, at (517) 338-3367 or


Working Safer and Easier for Janitors, Custodians and Housekeepers; published 2005 by the California Department of Industrial Relations at

A Clean Sweep: Safe Work Practices for Custodians; published June 2006 by WorkSafeBC at

Office Ergonomics Resources including setting up a workstations and self-assessment forms at SAIF Corporation:

Ergonomics Resources from OSHA at


Posted in 2017, OCTOBER 2017 | Comments Off on Preventing Injuries With Ergonomics

Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations

Amendment to Elliott-Larsen Act Introduced

Legislation has recently been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. House Bill 4872 proposes to amend both the title of the act and section 502 relating to real estate transactions. The legislation would add “military status” to the protected classes under section 502, and defines that term to cover both active duty military personnel and veterans. Currently, Michigan’s civil rights law prohibits discrimination in real estate transactions on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, familial status, and marital status.

Trump Administration to Review Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has announced that the department will reinterpret the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule. This controversial rule, finalized by HUD under the Obama Administration, requires that local governments receiving HUD funds analyze their housing occupancy for racial bias and formulate a plan to address any imbalance. Local governments submit the plan to HUD, with progress tracked over a five year period. Non-compliant communities can face loss of federal funding or lawsuit under the disparate impact doctrine. A number of industry groups, such as the National Apartment Association, have sought a review of the rule. In July, a group of Congressmen and Senators sent a letter to Secretary Carson requesting that the rule be rescinded. Additionally, legislation introduced in Congress proposes to defund implementation of the rule.

Fair Housing Seminar Set for November 15

If you have staff in need of a Fair Housing seminar, AAM has scheduled a program for Wednesday, November 15 from 9:00 am – Noon. The instructor will be Kathleen Mabie of Success OnSite. Please visit and click the link at the top of the page for details and registration.


Posted in OCTOBER 2017 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations

Bedbug Legislation Introduced

Legislation has been introduced in Michigan House of Representatives to address bedbug infestations in rental property. House Bill 4719 proposes to add a section in the Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act (Public Act 348 of 1972) to provide for the responsibilities of tenants and landlords in situations where bedbugs are suspected and/or present.

The bill provides that a landlord shall not enter into a lease if the landlord knows the rental unit is infested with bedbugs, and, when entering a lease agreement the landlord shall supply the tenant with information relating to identification of bedbugs and keeping a rental unit free of bedbugs. The landlord has 7 days from receipt of written notice of suspected infestation to schedule a unit inspection, and if the inspection confirms infestation then the landlord has 7 days to begin control measures and schedule inspection of adjoining units. Treatment is to be carried out by a licensed pest management professional. After written notice to the landlord of suspected infestation, a tenant shall grant access for inspection/treatment and comply with the control protocol established by the landlord or the landlord’s pest management professional. The bill also bans tenant treatment of a rental unit. Furthermore, if the tenant or the tenant’s guest causes an infestation, the tenant shall pay the cost of treatment for that unit and any other areas where bedbugs have spread. The bill specifically states the landlord is not liable, except in cases of negligence, for damages arising from an infestation or treatment. The legislation also allows a landlord and tenant to agree in writing how responsibility is to be assigned for costs associated with an infestation. Finally, there is a preemption of local ordinances for control or treatment of bedbugs in conflict with the provisions of the bill.


Posted in 2017, SEPTEMBER 2017 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Incident Investigation “How-To”


National Safety Council provides an excellent document on how to conduct an incident investigation, and the following is an excerpt.

Your company has just experienced an incident resulting in an injury to a worker. Now what? Reacting quickly to the incident with a prescribed procedure and actions can demonstrate your company’s commitment to safety and ensure the proper information is collected to fulfill an incident investigation’s ultimate purpose – to prevent future incidents.

Steps in an Investigation Process
The investigation process should begin after arranging for first aid or medical treatment for the injured person(s). In getting started, remind everyone involved, especially workers, that the investigation is to learn and prevent, not find fault. Steps of the investigation process include:

  • Call or gather the necessary person(s) to conduct the investigation and obtain the investigation kit.
  • Secure the area where the injury occurred and preserve the work area as it is.
  • Identify and gather witnesses to the injury event.
  • Interview the involved worker.
  • Interview all witnesses.
  • Document the scene of the injury through photos or videos.
  • Complete the investigation report, including determination of what caused the incident and what corrective actions will prevent recurrences.
  • Use results to improve the injury and illness prevention program to better identify and control hazards before they result in incidents.
  • Ensure follow-up on completion of corrective actions.

What to Include in the Documented Investigation Process
As with many processes, preparation and documentation are crucial. As part of the injury and illness prevention program, the investigation procedure should detail:

  • Who should conduct and participate in the investigation.
  • Incidents to be investigated.
  • Information to be collected.
  • Identification of causal factors (often referred to as root causes).
  • Determination of corrective actions.
  • Tracking completion of corrective actions.

Determining Causal Factors / Root Causes
The purpose of this fact-finding is to determine all of the contributing factors as to why the incident occurred. Statements such as “worker was careless” or “employee did not follow safety procedures” don’t get at the root cause of the incident. To avoid these incomplete and misleading conclusions in your investigative process, continue to ask why as in “Why did the employee not follow safety procedures?” Contributing factors may involve equipment, environment, people and management. Questions that help reveal these may include:

  • Was a hazardous condition a contributing factor? (defects in equipment/tools/materials, condition recognized, equipment inspections, correct equipment used or available, substitute equipment used, design or quality of equipment)
  • Was the location of equipment/materials/worker(s) a contributing factor? (employee supposed to be there, sufficient workspace, environmental conditions)
  • Was the job procedure a contributing factor? (written or known procedures, ability to perform the job, difficult tasks within the job, anything encouraging deviation from job procedures such as incentives or speed of completion)
  • Was lack of personal protective equipment or emergency equipment a contributing factor? (PPE specified for job/task, adequacy of PPE, whether PPE used at all or correctly, emergency equipment specified, available, properly used, function as intended)
  • Was a management system defect a contributing factor? (failure of supervisor to detect or report hazardous condition or deviation from job procedure, supervisor accountability understood, supervisor or worker adequately trained, failure to initiate corrective action)

At this point, once you’ve gathered information and interviewed the involved worker and any witnesses, you can prepare the investigation report itself and formulate corrective actions. Each corrective action listed should have a person assigned with ultimate responsibility for the action, a completion date set and a place to mark completion of the item.

For additional information on the investigation process, see the NSC document in its entirety at

Should you require additional assistance with incident investigation training in your workplace, please contact Gary Smith, CRM, at (517) 338-3367 or


  1. National Safety Council Guidance Document: (2014)
  2. OSHA Incident Investigation – A Guide for Employers:
  3. Accident/Incident Investigation Training (PowerPoint):


Posted in 2017, SEPTEMBER 2017 | Comments Off on Incident Investigation “How-To”