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Course 707 - Effective OSH Committee Meetings

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

Conducting Safety Committee Meetings

Be ready before the meeting starts.

Before the Meeting Starts

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:

  • Arrive early. Arrive at least thirty minutes early for a meeting and one hour early, if setting up for training using training props, equipment, and materials. Doing this should give you enough time to be ready so you can welcome students as they arrive without interruption.
  • Set up the room. Make sure you have enough tables and chairs, and that they are arranged properly. Make sure the temperature is good: a little cool because you don't want people too warm and falling asleep. Also, make sure equipment, lights, and electricity works. Again, you don't want to be unprepared when students arrive.
  • Refreshments? Hey, how about coffee, pastries, or pizza! Remember, a small investment can result in a big return.

1. All of the following are good ideas when preparing for a safety committee meeting EXCEPT _____.

a. asking students to help arrange the room
b. arriving 30 minutes early
c. arranging for refreshments
d. ensuring adequate tables/chairs

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Plan the Work: Work the Plan

How to Conduct Effective Meetings

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:

  1. Thank everyone for coming. Before you start, thank members and guests for attending the meeting.

  2. Call the meeting to order. The meeting should be called to order promptly at the appointed time.

  3. Note attendance. The recorder can make a note of who is present and absent. Large safety committees may want to conduct a roll call.

  4. 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.

2. Before the meeting starts, the recorder should _____.

a. thank everyone for coming
b. note who is present/absent
c. make follow-up calls
d. introduce visitors

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More Plan the Work: Work the Plan

  1. Review ground rules. Review ground rules. If your committee doesn't have ground rules, make sure it develops them. Typically ground rules cover procedural and behavioral do's and don'ts. Procedural ground rules usually include:
    • Time lines for the length of the meeting
    • Time lines for individual presentations
    • Meeting will start and end on time
    • The flow of business will follow the agenda
    • Focus on meeting safety-related agenda items only
    • Every member has an opportunity to speak
    • Decisions will be based on consensus agreement

    Behavioral ground rules clarify what is acceptable behavior during the meeting. Here are some examples:

    • Arrive on time.
    • Don't interrupt while another person is speaking.
    • Raise your hand to be recognized.
    • Don't make negative comments about another person or their ideas.
    • Focus on what you think works or does not work, and why.
    • Ask questions. There are no stupid questions.

3. Typically, ground rules cover _____.

a. OSHA directives
b. politically correct speech
c. do's and don'ts
d. safety policies and rules

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More... Plan the Work: Work the Plan

Click to enlarge.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Evaluate incident and accident reports. The safety committee should pay special attention to:
    • the quality of the description of the events
    • accuracy of the surface and root causes
    • corrective actions to fix surface causes
    • system improvements to fix root causes

    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.

4. What should the safety committee do with incident and accident reports?

a. discuss and file the reports for later use
b. use the information to fix surface/root causes
c. report those responsible for accidents
d. administer reprimands as required by OSHA

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More Plan the Work: Work the Plan

  1. Receive safety program status reports. Some safety committees include the results of safety program audits in the meeting. As a "program analyst" the safety committee member gives the committee a status report, including recommendations for improvement.
  2. Picture
    Trained safety committees help ensure success.
  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

5. Why is conducting safety inspections prior to safety committee meetings an effective strategy?

a. Those employees violating safety rules can be reported
b. The results of the inspection can be discussed at the meeting
c. The inspection reminds others that a meeting will be conducted
d. Employees see safety inspections as the responsibility of the safety committee

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Document, document, document!

If it isn't in writing, it didn't get done!

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.

6. How long should an employer review and maintain safety committee meeting records?

a. Six months
b. A year or so
c. Up to 2 years
d. At least 3 years

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Minutes are an official (legal) record.

Why minutes are important

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:

  • Distributes the minutes to representatives and management
  • Posts the minutes where other employees can read them
  • Keeps a copy of the minutes on file for three years
  • Ensures that all employees have the opportunity to respond to the minutes

What to include in the minutes: Organize the minutes so that they follow the meeting agenda. Information to include in the minutes:

  • Date, time, and place of the meeting
  • Names of attending representatives, guests, and representatives unable to attend
  • A summary of each agenda item discussed
  • Employee suggestions and reports of hazards
  • The committee's recommendations to management
  • Management's response to committee recommendations

7. This should be part of the minutes of the safety committee meeting.

a. Who provided the food
b. Disciplinary actions required
c. Recommendations to management
d. Medical records

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.

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