Skip Navigation

Course 707 - Effective OSH Committee Meetings

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

Roles and Responsibilities

What role do you play?

We all play many roles.

Safety committee members need to understand the role of the safety committee and what role they personally play as a member of the committee. Unless the safety committee's role is understood by all members, it's difficult to effectively carry out assigned responsibilities which achieve the safety committee's purpose.

Roles describes who we are

The term, role, describes who we are. At home, we may play the role of a spouse, coach, father, or mother. At work, our position largely determines the role we are expected to play.

As you learned in Course 701, Safety Committee Operations, the most effective safety committee performs the role of an internal consultant team to the employer. On the other hand, the least effective safety committee will function as an internal, fault-finding, cop squad.

It's essential to understand your role if you want to design the most effective safety committee meetings. Can you imagine what a meeting would look like if members believed they were all junior OSHA inspectors that had to control things? The meeting would be very different than one in which the safety committee acted like a consultant team.

1. What is the most effective role of a safety committee?

a. Supervisor
b. Consultant
c. Controller
d. Cop

Next Section

Safety Committee Member Duties: Each has an important role to play.

How to run a meeting.

Each member of the safety committee must understand the very important role they play within the safety committee. There are no unimportant positions. Let's take a quick look at some different roles and associated responsibilities in a safety committee:


  • Schedules monthly meetings
  • Develops agendas for meetings
  • Conducts monthly meetings


  • Assumes chair's duties when the chair is absent
  • Coordinates training for new representatives
  • Performs other duties assigned by the chair

2. The _____ conducts the monthly safety meetings.

a. vice-chair
b. management representative
c. safety manager
d. chairperson

Next Section

Safety Committee Members Duties (Continued)

PCFW Effective Meetings - Jennifer Witt


  • Takes minutes at each meeting
  • Distributes copies of minutes to representatives
  • Posts minutes for other employees to review
  • Maintains the safety-committee file
  • Keeps minutes and agendas on file for three years

Committee Representatives

  • Report employees´ safety and health concerns to the committee
  • Report accidents, near miss incidents, and unsafe workplace conditions to the committee
  • Suggest items to include in the monthly meeting agenda
  • Encourage employees to report workplace hazards and suggest how to control them
  • Establish procedures for conducting quarterly workplace inspections and for making recommendations to management to eliminate or control hazards

  • Help management evaluate the company´s safety and health program and recommend how to improve it
  • Establish procedures for investigating the causes of accidents and near-miss incidents

As you can see, each role includes a set of expected behaviors. By meeting these expectations, safety committee members fulfill their role.

3. How long is it recommended to keep safety committee meeting minutes and agendas on file?

a. 1 year
b. 2 years
c. 3 years
d. 4 years

Next Section

Safety Committee Purpose and Function

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Now that we correctly see our role as an internal consultant group, we need to figure out how meetings can help us fulfill the expectations of that role. To do that, we must understand the subtle difference between two important concepts: purpose and function.

  • If asked, "What is the primary purpose of your safety committee meetings?" The answer would be a goal statement such as, "to bring management and labor together to identify hazards and make recommendations for improvement."
  • How well meetings actually function depends on the success of its activities. For example, if asked, "How well is the safety committee meeting functioning to help identify hazards and make recommendations?" The answer would describe meeting activities and how effective they are.

Achieving the purposes of safety committee meetings is dependent on how well they operate. For example, safety committees naturally intend to fulfill their purpose as an internal consultant group: to do that, they design and perform activities to identify hazards and make recommendations. If, however, the activities are unintentionally designed and performed poorly, they may malfunction; failing to achieve their intended purposes. Bottom-line: The road to failure is paved with good intentions.

4. The intended outcome of a safety committee meeting is defined as its _____.

a. purpose
b. function
c. objective
d. goal

Next Section

Safety Committee Meeting Purpose (Continued)

Management and labor must work together.

If the safety committee is able to effectively accomplish its purpose, it can serve as a catalyst to improve the safety management system and transform the safety culture. Lets see how the safety committee meeting can help do that:

  • The meeting brings management and labor together. Management and labor must be talking to each other. The more they talk, the more they understand each other. Why is it important to talk? Think about this principle: "If you keep people in the dark, they think the worst." If management and labor are not talking, they will be thinking the worst about each other.
  • The meeting naturally promotes trust. It builds a cooperative working relationship between management and labor. It's essential that the safety committee build trust between labor and management; we call this the prime directive. W. Edward's Deming, in his book, Out of the Crisis, states that to achieve true operational quality, the employer must drive out fear in the workplace. Increased cooperation, not competition, between management and labor is a crucial goal in every action the safety committee takes.
  • The meeting fosters ideas for improvement. It can be the place to design and implement ideas and activities that can increase employee awareness, improve attitudes, and make improvements in operations as well as safety.
  • The meeting promotes continuous improvement. The meeting is important in each phase of Deming's Plan-Do-Study-Act process.

5. Why is it important to bring management and labor together safety committee meetings?

a. So the committee doesn't "go rogue"
b. Management can control the meeting
c. Because OSHA requires it
d. To understand each other better

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.

Next Module
OSHAcademy Ultimate Guide Banner Ad