Workplace safety committees help managers and workers come together to help establish a safety culture at all levels of the organization. Several states actually require safety committees to be established for all businesses, while others only require committees for higher risk industries, for example companies involved in mining operations.
Establishing a workplace safety committee, whether compulsory or not, provides substantial value for any organization. Benefits include increased awareness of safety hazards, faster response to safety-related issues, increased collaboration between workers and management, and reductions in workers' compensation insurance premiums.
Establishing a safety committee is one thing but running an effective one with the goal of creating a holistic safety culture is an ongoing challenge. However, the return on investment when it comes to establishing a safety culture that permeates at all levels of the organization is invaluable for the organization and its employees.
Workplace safety committees are not created equally and should be tailored to the organization as well as its internal environment. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the main responsibilities of a workplace safety committee should include at a minimum:
- Developing safety work practices
- Creating written safety programs, plans, and procedures
- Leading safety training
- Conducting workplace inspections and safety audits
- Developing safety checklists
- Promoting employee’s collaboration on health and safety issues
Tips for Creating a Successful Workplace Safety Committee
Follow the Leader
One of the first steps in establishing a workplace safety culture is to ensure proper leadership is in place to help drive engagement, collaboration, and communication within the safety committee. The committee leader should be an individual who is currently in a leadership position and knows how to lead others towards a common purpose. This purpose being the creation of a safety culture which puts employees first.
Diversity is Key
Diversity in the workplace has been a hot topic in recent years, with studies providing quantitative statistics on how diversity can drive innovative ideas and add value to any organization. A Forbes report found that 85% of surveyed companies agree a diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation. A diverse safety committee supports an innovative environment where ideas can be shared openly and freely. This environment helps drive ideas that can significantly improve health and safety programs throughout the organization.
Keep it Simple
When forming a safety committee, it is not wise to assume all members will be experts when it comes to health and safety practices. The committee leader should be prepared to provide simple training materials to boost committee overall knowledge and give members the tools needed to assess hazards present in the workplace. Furthermore, ways to mitigate health and safety hazards should be communicated so the committee is aware of what actions to take once a workplace hazard is discovered.
Make Safety Fun
When people think safety, it usually does not scream, "FUN!" Committee leadership must make a concerted effort to make safety fun to drive engagement and collaboration amongst the group. Bringing in guest speakers, changing meeting venues (e.g. park, museum), using educational media, and conducting safety exercises can help break up the monotony of safety education. Making education fun helps members retain information better which will lead to a safer workplace over time.
Take a Look Outside
When building an effective safety committee, it can be helpful to look externally or outside the company for guidance. By seeing how other companies in your industry or other closely related industries have set up their safety committees, a wealth of knowledge can be accessed which helps establish benchmarking parameters. Benchmarking safety committee performance helps measure the safety committee's actions and progress from year to year.
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Establishing a safety committee can seem like a daunting task. However, with a few good strategies, any organization can develop a workplace safety committee which is the envy of industry peers. Providing a healthy and safe work environment should always be a company's number one priority and establishing an effective safety committee is a positive step in the right direction. Contact us to learn about services we provide for safe working environments. No matter what industry, we’ll create a custom plan just for you.