By Mike Marinan, Director of Member Services – Public Risk Underwriters of Florida, Inc.
Ensuring the safety of the workplace and your employees is a top priority. Improving safety at your entity is one way to help mitigate risk and provide a positive workplace environment for your employees.
Forming a safety committee at your organization can help you reduce the likelihood of on the-job accidents, injuries, and illnesses. When employees at your facility are actively involved in safety programs and culture, it can create a sense of personal investment and ownership in the safety and overall success.
Safety committees take time and effort, they need to be organized, managed, recorded and scheduled, but it can all be worth it.
Here are four ways that safety committees can help empower employees and promote better workplace conditions for everyone:
1. They Give Everyone a Voice in Safety
Instead of making safety the sole responsibility of the individual that has been given the safety responsibility within the entity, creating a safety committee means that everyone has ownership in creating a better environment. Safety committees that pull in employees from different supervisory levels and departments ensure that everyone’s experience counts.
2. They Help Identify Safety Issues Faster
With safety committee members spread out through a variety of departments, potential risks that may come up during the workday are quickly identified. As safety advocates, committee members are empowered to call out potentially risky behavior and stop it before someone is hurt. This proactive approach greatly reduces the chances of additional injury.
3. They Make Safety a Part of the Culture
By creating a safety committee and bringing in members from across all departments, organizations are sending a strong message that the safety of every employee matters to them. A safety committee can also take on projects and give updates as they work to improve safety across the organization.
4. They Let Employees Create Lasting Solutions
Instead of going with a “one-size-fits-all” safety plan, members of the safety committee can use their own knowledge of the company to create customized safety solutions that fit with the way the employees work. They are able to follow up with these plans and make sure that they’re effective.
The basic function of every safety committee should be to encourage and maintain a safe work environment. A safety committee should foster a sense of ownership by giving employees an opportunity to directly improve safety and reduce injuries within the organization, while enhancing communication between management and employees.
To achieve this, a commitment to safety must become a shared responsibility between management and employees. Safety committee members are responsible for developing and reviewing safety procedures and policies, investigating, and reviewing accidents and communicating safety issues or policies to company employees.
Guidelines for Success
The makeup of the safety committee can vary depending on the needs, size, and type of the organization. Consider the following elements when creating a safety committee:
- Appoint a chairperson or leader: This person must display leadership skills such as organization, dedication, excellent working knowledge of the entity and respect from other members.
- Diverse membership: The committee should be comprised of an equal number of management and non-management employees that represent all areas within the entity. Limiting the size of the committee to 4 – 12 members will help keep meetings moving and to allow for everyone to be involved.
- Effective meetings: Meetings are usually scheduled quarterly with a planned agenda and last no more than 1 hour. Limiting meetings to 1 hour keeps things moving and the agenda on track. In addition, it limits the time employees must spend away from their daily job duties.
- Set an agenda: The agenda of a meeting may vary, but typical ones include record of attendance, review of recent accidents/injuries, unfinished or new business, safety inspection reports, special projects and/or presentations.
- Document the committee’s efforts: A written record of the meeting’s proceedings should be prepared by the committee’s designated secretary. Previous month’s meeting minutes should be discussed at each meeting, as well as any follow-up actions from the meetings. Meeting minutes should be distributed to all members, posted for all company employees to read, as well as sent to key management personnel. Maximum benefit will be obtained by publicizing the committee’s efforts. Those benefits include increased safety awareness and keeping employees and management updated on the progress of the committee.
All our members can benefit from having an organized and functional safety committee staffed with involved, contributing employees. A safety committee will not only create a safer work environment, but also help involve other employees in the monitoring, education, investigation and evaluation of the safety effort.
Additionally, the commitment to safety can impact the company’s bottom line by reducing the number of costly accidents and injuries.