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Safety Committee Best Practice Guidelines

Emelia McEwen, Senior Loss Control Specialist, MACo JPIA/JPA

The Safety Committee is comprised of a group of employees who value the safety and well-being of their peers and the continuous success of the organization. It’s an effective way to improve safety behavior and performance in the workplace and to encourage workers to support the organization’s safety program.  Participation in the Safety Committee represents a commitment on your part in time and effort to:

  • Be your organization’s eyes and ears
  • Raise safety awareness
  • Gain respect of co-workers and peers
  • Analyze and/or solve problems
  • Follow-up and follow-through consistently

The purpose of a Safety Committee is to regularly bring workers and management together in a cooperative effort to communicate and to promote occupational safety and health in the workplace. It’s an opportunity to assist the employer and make recommendations for improvements regarding safety issues. It’s a joint effort to detect and correct workplace hazards, reduce injuries and illnesses, prevent fatalities and increase safety awareness. The committee is visible and approachable for safety and health concerns, suggestions, and problem solving.

In order to accomplish these objectives successfully, the Safety Committee should:

1.  Develop a written mission statement and by-laws or charter.

2.  Define duties and responsibilities of officers and general members.

3.  Identify and prioritize goals and establish action plans to achieve each goal.

4.  Include representation from different levels and areas of the organization.

5.  Make attendance a priority and utilize all member resources.

6.  Hold regularly scheduled meetings, one feasibly every month but no less than every four months.

7.  Develop methods to increase and maintain safety awareness.

8.  Communicate the purpose, activities and accomplishments of the committee to all employees (i.e., safety bulletin boards, newsletters, posting on networks).

9.  Organize special subcommittees to address specific issues and projects.

10. Set clear meeting agendas, publish them in advance and then follow them.

11. Keep minutes of each meeting that summarizes the key issues discussed, the proposed actions to be taken, and the person(s) responsible for follow-up on each item. Minutes should be published and provided to each committee member and available to all employees.

1.  Safety contests

2.  Poster programs/contests

3.  Audio-visual presentations

4,  Special safety/health events (open house, safety fairs)

5.  Guest speakers, seminars or training programs.

6.  Employee suggestion programs

7.  Injury prevention campaigns (i.e., ergonomics, backs, slips/trips/falls)

8.  Special safety recognition awards

9.  Newsletters/promotional material

10. Safety fairs and activities

11. Tracking and trending losses

12. Conducting accident investigations

13. Performing inspections

Each Safety Committee should include a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, a Secretary, general members and alternates. Chairperson The primary duties of this position are to:

1. Develop meeting agendas.

2. Coordinate and conduct orderly meetings.

3. Establish necessary deadlines and subcommittee assignments.

4. Provide appropriate and timely follow-up on problems and recommendations developed by the committee.

5. Serve as a communication liaison between management and the committee.

6. Promote health and safety by personal example.

1. Must have the confidence of other committee members, employees and management.

2. Be familiar with the general principles and concepts of safety and health management and applicable requirements of the Montana Safety Culture Act (MSCA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and/or the Mine Safety and Health Act (MSHA).

3. Be visibly enthusiastic about the organizations Safety and Health Program.

The primary duties of this position are:

1. Assume leadership of the committee when the chairperson is unavailable on a short-term basis or resigns from the committee.

2. Assistance with the coordination and direction of the committee and subcommittee activities.

The primary duties of this position are:

1. To maintain, record and disseminate minutes of each meeting.

2. Actively promote safety and health by personal example and communicate with employees and supervisors. The Secretary should be appointed by the Chairperson or elected by members of the committee for a one year term, rotating this post periodically to give all members an opportunity.

1. Each committee should be made up of employees from various areas and levels within the organization.

2. Work with supervisors to eliminate hazardous conditions and unsafe work practices.

3. Listen to employee suggestions about safety and discuss in the next scheduled committee meeting.

4. Investigate suggestions, concerns, new ways of working safely, corrective actions, and safety and health inspections.

5. Attend training necessary to gain the skills and experience to promote safety and health within the organization.

1. Set a good example.

2. Be visible.

3. Be proud to serve.

4. Feel their jobs are important.

5. Seek education and training.

6. Support each other.

Committee meetings should be held on a specific day and time, and scheduled at least every month but no less than every four months. When meeting schedules are planned well in advance, members are in a better position to arrange for their attendance and prepare for discussion.

Committee meetings should include:

1.  Review of unfinished items from previous meetings and/or activities.

2.  Status reports from any subcommittees.

3.  Discussion/review of safety inspection reports and actions taken to correct hazards.

4.  Review accident/incident reports and any corrective actions identified.

5.  Review status of current action plans or training programs.

6.  Review loss control reports and make recommendations.

7.  Discuss special activities or upcoming events.

8.  Discuss safety suggestions/concerns and provide solutions.

9.  Discuss new business, future agenda items, projects and meeting dates.

10. Retain recorded meeting minutes for three years. Records should be made available for review and/or assessment, as necessary.

The Safety Committee will function more effectively as long as it is recognized by employees, supervisors and managers who welcome its services. The committee can be a proactive tool to help prevent unsafe practices and conditions, reduce the risks associated with injuries and illnesses, and help motivate employees and supervisors to become actively involved in their organization’s safety and health program.

Emelia McEwen | | (406)449-4370