In the last module we discussed ways to get people excited about joining and being involved in the safety committee. In this module, we'll continue the theme of safety committee member professional development. Effective education and training is the key to making the safety committee a valuable profit center in your company.
If you've been a member of a safety committee whose members were not properly trained, you can appreciate the benefits from effective safety committee training. You may be a member of a safety committee right now. Did you receive any training about your role and responsibilities as a safety committee member when you joined? Chances are you didn't. If you did, that's great. New safety committee members should be properly educated so that they understand why their new position is so important. The purpose is to affect attitudes about the safety committee and the contribution each member can make.
Safety committees that lack effective education and training, for the most part, flounder around but rarely get much done.
It's important that safety committee members are trained so that they understand the big picture. Each member needs to know how the safety committee fits into the company's operations plan and how it can most effectively benefit the employer.
For a safety committee to operate successfully, its members should be educated and trained in at least three very important areas:
This is pretty obvious, but no less important. Safety committee members should be trained in how the safety committee operates, how meetings are conducted, and what is expected of them as members. New safety committee members may not have a firm understanding of the consultative role the safety committee plays within the safety management system. They may not realize that one of the primary purposes of safety committees is to help the employer fulfill safety accountabilities.
To be effective, safety committee members must know basic hazard identification and control concepts and methods. We'll cover this topic briefly below. A more in-depth discussion can be found in OSHAcademy Course 704.
One of the hazard identification and control duties you might have as a member of the safety committee might be conducting regular walk-around safety inspections. Safety inspections can be effective in spotting workplace hazards, but only if the people inspecting know what they're looking for and ask the right questions.
Sometimes, safety inspections consist of one person walking around with what I call the "rolling-eyeball" approach. The inspector just scans up and down, side to side, all over the place looking for hazards, not really knowing what to look for. Occasionally, the inspector might ask an employee if they have any "safety complaints", only to receive a quick "no" so the person can get back to work. You can imagine that such an inspection ends up a waste of the inspector's time and the employer's money. If you are going to inspect...inspect effectively so that the company realizes some benefit from the process.
It's very important that safety committee members be trained on using the well-known Hierarchy of Controls, which includes five basic strategies in controlling exposure to hazards in the workplace.
Controlling workplace hazards: The first three strategies reduce exposure by controlling hazards. If you can get rid of the hazard, you don't have to manage behaviors.
Controlling employee behaviors: The last two strategies reduce exposure by controlling employee behaviors through the use of procedures and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Safety professionals know all about the Hierarchy of Controls, so be sure to get trained and otherwise become more familiar with each of this topic. You may want to attend conferences sponsored by the National Safety Council, American Society of Safety Engineers and others to learn more about this important topic.
Note: ANSI/AIHA Z10-2005 also includes "Warnings" as one of the strategies in the Hierarchy of Controls. However, I would classify this strategy as an administrative control because warnings are only as effective as the awareness of and compliance with their message. Warnings do not eliminate or reduce hazards.
In some companies, safety committees are assigned the responsibility to review and evaluate accident reports. Consequently, it's important that safety committee members understand effective accident investigation procedures and what good accident reports look like.
One effective process for conducting accident investigations includes six steps to assess, analyze, and evaluate facts to develop permanent corrective actions.
You'll find more about this topic in Course 702.
You now know the subjects in which to train safety committee members, but what type of training is best, and when is the best time to conduct the training? You have several alternatives.
You know the importance of a well-trained safety committee, the subjects to train, and the best strategies for getting the training done. Safety education and training can have dramatic positive results in the success of your safety committee and your organization's safety management system. Are you ready for the quiz? Go for it!
Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.
Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.