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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

Well, 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 so. There are a few actions to take just prior to the meeting to make sure it starts without a hitch. Here are some important things to do just before the meeting starts:

  • Arrive early. Thirty minutes for a meeting. One hour to set up if training is involved.

  • Set up the room. Make sure there are enough tables and chairs, pencils, paper, etc. Make sure the lights and electricity work.

  • Refreshments? Hey, coffee and pastries, or what about pizza! Remember, a small investment can result in a big return.

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.

More... Plan the Work: Work the Plan

  1. Review ground rules. A formal review of the meeting ground rules can be conducted. However, an informal reference to the ground rules is all it takes. You may not need to review the ground rules at every meeting, but consider doing so for the benefit of guests and new members. Some committees place a ground rules poster where everyone can see it. Other committees merely include the ground rules with the agenda. If your committee doesn't have ground rules, make sure it develops them.
  2. Typically ground rules address procedures and behaviors. Procedural guidelines detail how the meeting will be conducted. 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
    • Address what works vs. does not work
    • No one is stupid, wrong, bad, or otherwise flawed

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 represents 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 represents 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.

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 secretary, 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.

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.

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

Well, that's a lot of information to absorb. But there's light at the end of the tunnel... it's time to take the module quiz.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. What should you do before starting the formal part of the safety meeting?

2. Ground rules typically address _____ and _____.

3. The first activity during the meeting is typically _____.

4. When you tell an OSHA or OSH officer you have worksite safety meetings, you need to have the documentation because _____.

5. All of these should be made a part of the minutes of the safety committee meeting, except _____.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.