Don't pass this module up just because you already have a safety committee!
This module is designed to help if you are trying to start a new safety committee. Even if you have a safety committee, be sure to complete this module. You’ll still receive some good information to help further develop your safety committee's effectiveness. At a minimum, it will be a great review for you.
Let's say your company does not have a safety committee. You are convinced that the company would benefit if it had a committee, but how do you sell the idea to the CEO?
You've got to talk the "$$bottom line$$" to get management's attention.
An effective safety committee may help prevent employees from getting hurt or killed on the job. It may also help decrease future direct and indirect accident costs. Consequently, an effective safety committee is should be considered a profit center, not a cost center for the company.
The benefits of an effective safety committee far outweigh the cost of its operation.
As we just saw, by identifying and controlling hazards and unsafe work practices, the safety committee protects employees and save lives. The safety committee also protects the employer by reducing direct and accident costs by many thousands of dollars.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 2.7 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2020. According to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, disabling workplace injuries cost businesses more than $58 billion every year.
What do these statistics mean to you? Effective profit-centered safety committees have the potential to save not only lives and limbs but lots of money. Each year, thousands of dollars can be saved in each company when a safety committee uncovers and helps eliminate hazardous conditions or unsafe work practices.
Every dollar invested in proactive safety, including safety committee activities, may return hundreds back. You've got to convince management that an effective safety committee not only saves lives but saves money too.
You know the safety committee will be composed of several people from management and the labor force. What kind of structure should the safety committee take? Typically, the committee will have a chairperson (some will also have a co-chair), a recorder, and of course, several members. You don't need a complicated bureaucratic structure.
The chairperson's job is, of course, one of the most important on the committee. He or she is the key coordinator ensuring the safety committee operates effectively. Below are some of the very important responsibilities of the chairperson.
Let's not forget another very important responsibility: that of the recorder or secretary. This person helps the chairperson ensure all communications are accurately recorded and distributed to committee members and others. Some duties of the recorder may include:
For the safety committee to operate most effectively, everyone on the committee needs to be involved somehow. Safety committee members should do more than just report safety concerns from their departments. Below are some ideas for members.
The makeup of the committee membership is a very important consideration. Safety committees work best when both management and labor are represented.
Other types of committees have been used successfully for safety and health participation. At many unionized worksites, employee safety committees with members selected by the union or elected by employees work alone, without management, on various tasks. At some worksites, hourly workers participate on a central safety committee.
Some worksites also use employee or joint committees for specific purposes, such as inspecting the site for hazards, investigating accidents and incidents, and training new employees. Finally, although they go by a different name, quality circles are another form of committee. They focus at least part of the time on identifying and resolving health and safety problems.
Suppose one of the purposes of the safety committee is to bring management and labor together in a cooperative effort to improve the safety and health of workers. In that case, it just makes business sense to include representatives from management ranks and the work floor.
Management and labor can sit together and discuss their unique and common concerns regarding safety. The safety committee becomes a forum for management and labor to ensure mutually acceptable solutions to problems can be reached.
It's important that the safety committee not be dominated by management or any one individual, be it the safety director, chairperson, or member. To make sure this does not happen, establish ground rules, and techniques for decision-making that promotes group consensus.
Management representatives and the chairperson will be the primary conduits of communications between the safety committee and the employer. Committee members are the primary communicators with employees. It's very important communication occurs in both directions.
Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.
Watch this short video by Kevin Burns. He's a consultant/author that works with smart, caring companies to energize safety culture, build teamwork, and get employee buy-in.