Course 701 - Effective Safety Committee Operations

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier


The Key to Successful Safety Committees

Safety Committee
To be effective, the safety committee must be educated.

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 are keys to making the safety committee a valuable profit center in your company.

Suppose you have been a member of a safety committee whose members were not properly trained. In that case, you can appreciate the benefits of 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.

1. Why should new safety committee members be properly educated?

a. They will get paid more money
b. To understand why their role is so important
c. For more accurate recordkeeping
d. So management knows they are committed

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Training the Safety Committee

Safety Committee
To perform duties, the safety committee must be trained.

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 by helping to improve the safety management system.

Training will help each safety committee member:
  • Understand and carry out their individual responsibilities;
  • Understand important safety and health concepts, methods, rules;
  • Improve safety communication, management, and leadership skills; and
  • Improve problem-solving and recommendation submission skills.
Training will help the safety committee:
  • Fulfill their mission to assist the employer;
  • Improve its status within the company; and
  • Have a positive impact on lowering claims costs, raising profits.
A well-trained safety committee will, in the long term, help the employer:
  • Demonstrate effective safety leadership and management;
  • Improve profitability, competitiveness, and morale; and
  • Correct hazards and make system improvements promptly.

2. Which of the following is a long-term benefit to the employer when the safety committee is well trained?

a. Improved profitability, competitiveness, and morale
b. A zero-tolerance culture for accidents
c. An aggressive safety enforcement program
d. Reduced safety training costs

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Safety Committee
Safety committee members must know the safety committee's purpose to operate properly.

Key Training Topics

For a safety committee to operate successfully, its members should be educated and trained in at least four very important general topics:

  • safety committee vision, mission, and structure;
  • safety inspection procedures;
  • hazard identification and control concepts and methods; and
  • accident investigation procedures.

Training New Members

New safety committee members may not have a firm understanding of the safety committee's consultative role within the safety management system. They may not realize that one of the primary purposes of safety committees is to help employers fulfill safety accountabilities. Consequently, it important that they also be trained in the following specific topics:

  • responsibilities as committee members;
  • safety committee policies;
  • safety committee meeting rules and guidelines, and
  • how to communicate with employees.

3. In addition to training that all safety committee members receive, it's important that new committee members receive training in _____.

a. accident investigation
b. how to report unsafe employees
c. how to effectively enforce safety rules
d. meeting rules and guildelines

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Training Strategies for Safety Committees

Safety Committee
Get out of the classroom and into the workplace when you train.

You now know the subjects 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.

  • Formal classroom training: In many cases, formal training in-house or from an external source can quickly train a safety committee member when needed. Classroom training is best if the class is composed of students from many different departments or companies. By the way, most adults like small group exercise as their favorite training method. On the other hand, most adults do not like a lecture (boring!)
  • Online training: This form of training is growing in popularity because safety committee members can fit short training sessions on the computer into their busy schedules at work or at home.
  • Informal on-the-job training (OJT): This is best done by first-line supervisors. Safety committee members will learn how to do things like use personal protective equipment, conduct accident investigations, and perform job hazard analysis.
  • Mini training sessions at safety committee meetings: This is a good method to keep safety committee members up on the latest changes to OSHA standards and changes in company policy, procedures, and rules. Mini training sessions can be as short as five minutes or up to 30 minutes. However, most are in the 10 minute range, so time is available to conduct other meeting business.

4. What classroom training method do adults usually like best?

a. Group exercises
b. Lecture
c. Timed response
d. Video presentations

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Training in Hazard Identification and Control

Safety Committee
Safety committee members must know how to conduct safety inspections.

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 Hazard Analysis and Control.

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 effectively spot 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 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.

5. Which of the following is considered a best practice when conducting safety inspections?

a. Scan the workspace quickly
b. Limit inspection to your own workspace
c. Take time to ask questions as you inspect
d. Do not inspect with others

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Hierarchy of Controls

Safety Committee
Click to expand.

Safety committee members should be trained on the ANSI/AIHA Z10:2012 Hierarchy of Controls. The hierarchy includes six 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.

  1. Elimination - totally eliminate the hazard
  2. Substitution - substitute a hazardous condition with a less hazardous or hazard-free condition
  3. Engineering - eliminate or reduce hazards through design and redesign

Controlling employee behaviors. The last three strategies reduce exposure by controlling employee behaviors with procedures and personal protective equipment (PPE).

  1. Warnings - attempt to reduce exposure by warning employees about hazards.
  2. Administrative controls - to protect employees through the use of safe procedures and practices.
  3. Personal protective equipment - to set up personal barriers to the hazards.

Safety professionals know all about the Hierarchy of Controls, so be sure to get trained. You may want to take Course 122, Introduction to Hazard Controls or Course 704, Hazard Analysis and Control. You may also want to attend conferences sponsored by the American Society of Safety Professionals and others to learn more about this important topic.

6. Which of the following hazard control strategies eliminates or reduces hazards through design and redesign?

a. Elimination
b. Engineering controls
c. Substitution
d. Administrative controls

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Training in Accident Investigation Procedures

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.

Safety Committee
As a safety committee member, you may be involved in accident investigations.

Six-Step Accident Investigation Procedure

One effective process for conducting accident investigations includes six steps to assess, analyze, and evaluate facts to develop permanent corrective actions.

  • Step 1: Secure the accident scene to ensure material evidence is not moved.
  • Step 2: Gather data and information using observation, interviews, photos, sketches, etc.
  • Step 3: Develop the sequence of events before, during, and immediately after the accident.
  • Step 4: Analyze each event for surface and root causes that contributed to the event.
  • Step 5: Develop recommendations for immediate and long-term corrective actions.
  • Step 6: Write the accident report that includes findings and recommendations. Do not include fault-finding accusations.

You'll find more about this topic in OSHAcademy Course 702, Effective Accident Investigation.

7. What is the purpose of assessing, analyzing, and evaluating facts during an accident investigation?

a. To address the surface causes of accidents
b. To develop permanent corrective actions
c. To determine employee liability
d. To reduce the likelihood of an OSHA investigation

Check your Work

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.


Safety Committee Almost Live

They say there's always a bit of truth in humor. This video is no exception. Watch this parody on Safety Meetings by the Almost Live crew.

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