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 WorkSafeMT.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- ‘Culture Drives Behavior’ Effective safety committees build a strong safety culture; National Safety Council Knowledge Center Safety Article published 2007.
- 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: Revitalizing a Changing Workforce; Society for Human Resource Management research published April 18, 2016.
- SMART goal criteria at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria.