Employer safety committees play an important role in promoting a safe work environment. Their function is not limited to reducing workplace injuries. They can also assist in injury response and educate others within the workplace. If a committee is well run, they can also promote the reduction of workers’ compensation program costs.
What is a “Safety Committee?”
A safety committee is comprised of members from an employer that assist leadership in promoting workplace safety. Depending on labor rules, these committees can be required in some instances. Regardless of the regulatory requirements, they serve an important role in a number of functions:
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- Health and Safety Planning: All employers need procedures for a safe workplace. This includes the handling of chemicals or harmful materials, the use and operation of equipment and how one responds to workplace injuries;
- Enterprise accountability: Committees can help other interested stakeholders such as human resources, legal and compliance evaluate the safety within the workplace. Involving additional people can add credibility to a safety program and promote acceptance of best practices companywide; and
- Accident Investigation: It is essential to go beyond the minimum steps when responding to an injury. An active committee can refine processes and make recommendations to improve conditions. Avoiding accidents in the best way and most cost-effective approach to preventing workplace injuries.
The functions of a safety committee are without limit. Be creative.
Defining the Roles of the Safety Committee
All safety committees should meet on a regular basis and follow an agenda. It is essential leadership within a company respects the wisdom of the committee and is willing to promote change. This starts with having a defined chain of command within the committee structure. Common committee structures include:
Chairperson: This should be a recognized leader within an organization who has direct access to upper management. This person establishes meeting agenda and conducts orderly meetings;
- Vice-chairperson: This person should also have influence within an organization. The position serves as a back-up to the chairperson and also serves on a subcommittee, or is active in committee activities;
- Secretary: Minutes should be taken of all committee meetings that accurately reflect what was discussed and action that will be taken. These minutes should be compiled in a log that is accessible to all company employees and is distributed promptly to committee members following meetings; and
- General Members: There is no “right” size for a committee. Membership on the committee should represent different areas within the organization such as administration, operations, and personnel. Membership on a committee should rotate to obtain input from employees with varying experience and knowledge of an organization.
Labor union leaders or representatives should also be included, if applicable, as they would be aware of specific workplace rules.
Making Your Safety Committee Successful
There is no specific recipe for a successful safety committee. Common traits of committees that make the most impact within an organization include the following:
- Consistent scheduling of committee meetings: Special meetings can be held to address important concerns as they arise on an ad hoc basis;
- Consistent advertising and announcements: It is important to all employees to know what is going on with a safety committee and whom to contact about concerns. By publishing agendas and meeting minutes that are accessible to all people, employees feel empowered to make a positive change within their organizations;
- Consistent attendance of committee members: Committees can only function and operate when its members attend meetings. By accepting a position on a safety committee, people need to make it a priority. The names of members in attendance should always be accurately listed on meeting minutes; and
- Consistent flow of information on committee accomplishments: It is important to let co-workers know what is going on at committee meetings and projects it is working on during the course of business. Effective committees have bulletin boards or Intranet pages dedicated to committee projects and operations.
Interested stakeholders in workers’ compensation programs can implement a safety committee to improve the workplace environment and reduce costs. The key to an effective safety committee is creativity and consistency. It also requires engagement by all employees within the workplace to reinforce the message of best practices and not cutting corners when it comes to avoiding and improving response to work injuries.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .
Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: https://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.