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.
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.
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:
Establish procedures for conducting quarterly workplace inspections and for making recommendations to management to eliminate or control hazards
As you can see, each role includes a set of expected behaviors. By meeting these expectations, safety committee members fulfill their role.
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.
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.
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:
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