It's just about time to start the meeting. Everyone knows where and when the meeting is. They have all received an agenda, so it's a done deal, right? Well, not necessarily: There are a few actions to take just prior to the meeting or training session to make sure it starts without a hitch. Here are some important things to do just before the session starts:
There are some basic "best practices" when it comes to running a safety committee meeting. The following is a suggested order of business that may be adopted for safety committee meetings in general:
Thank everyone for coming. Before you start, thank members and guests for attending the meeting.
Call the meeting to order. The meeting should be called to order promptly at the appointed time.
Note attendance. The recorder can make a note of who is present and absent. Large safety committees may want to conduct a roll call.
Introduce visitors. No one likes to feel left out at a meeting. Make sure visiting employees, managers, presenters and other guests are recognized and thanked for attending.
Behavioral ground rules clarify what is acceptable behavior during the meeting. Here are some examples:
Review meeting minutes. Typically, the first activity is to review the minutes of the previous-meeting. Any corrections should be identified and corrections made. This item can sometimes be waived.
Review the agenda topics. Give representatives and guests the opportunity to suggest changes or to add discussion topics to the agenda. Unless the representatives agree to continue the meeting, end it at the scheduled time. You can discuss unfinished items during the next meeting or later with concerned representatives.
Discuss unfinished business. Review actions and recommendations that have not yet been completed. Those responsible should report the status of the item. Items on which definite decisions have not been made should be brought up for reconsideration.
Review observations of conditions and behaviors. Discuss observations safety committee members have made during the previous month. The information is important data that can be used by the safety committee to uncover trends and improvements that may be needed in the safety management system. Remember, names are not important here.
The information gathered from the reports is an excellent source of information to help improve the safety management system. Discussion of "who" had the accident, or who was to "blame," is inappropriate.
Conduct safety committee education/training. When it is desired and time permits, the chairperson should request a member or guest to present a short topic of interest. Tip: It's a good idea to schedule topics and presenters for the year. Training doesn't have to be long: Ten to fifteen minutes may work for your committee.
Conduct a safety inspection. Although, some safety committees include an inspection of the workplace as part of the meeting, I believe you should conduct the safety inspection before the meeting. After the inspection, members discuss their findings and make recommendations for program improvement. Sometimes a team will conduct the inspection and report their findings to the committee. A record of the inspection time, facilities covered, hazardous conditions, safe/unsafe behaviors observed, and recommendations made should be included in the minutes.
Adjourn. Minutes should be taken, prepared, and circulated by the recorder, after approval by the chairman. The minutes are of great importance since they are often sent to others besides committee members, especially top management. The minutes must record accurately all decisions made and actions taken, since they serve as a means of keeping management informed of the group's work and as a follow up.
Safety committee minutes should be made of each meeting. If OSHA or OSH officers show up for an inspection, and safety committees are required, they'll ask if you are having meetings. If you say "yes," you better have the documentation because as far as the government inspectors (or lawyers) are concerned, if it isn't in writing, it didn't get done!
The employer should review and maintain meeting records for at least three years if trend analysis is conducted. Copies of minutes should be posted or made available for all employees and sent to managers and each committee member. If you do not have meeting minutes, claims of negligence against your employer may be more easily substantiated.
All reports, evaluations, and recommendations of the safety committee should be made a part of the minutes of the safety committee meeting. It's not necessary to record everything. Summarize those items that may be necessary to document at a later time. Audit trails should be in place to keep track of formal committee activities.
A reasonable time limit should be established for the employer to respond in writing to all safety committee recommendations. Usually the more serious the matter, the sooner management should respond.
Minutes are the official record of the safety committee's activities, including recommendations to management and accomplishments. The content should be concise, clear, and well-organized.
Who's responsible for minutes: Your committee should have a recorder who takes minutes at each meeting and, after the meeting, does the following:
What to include in the minutes: Organize the minutes so that they follow the meeting agenda. Information to include in the minutes:
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