Course 701 - Effective Safety Committee Operations

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

Getting Started

Kick Start your Committee!

If you don't have a safety committee, sell the idea by listing the benefits.

Don't pass this module up just because you already have a safety committee!

This module is designed to help you if you are trying to start a new safety committee in your company. However, if you already have a safety committee, be sure to complete this module because you'll still receive some good information to help you further develop your safety committee's effectiveness. At a minimum, it will be a great review for you.

Sell the Idea to the Boss

Let's say your company does not presently have a safety committee. You are convinced that the company would benefit if it started one, but how do you sell the idea to the CEO?

You've got to "$$ talk bottom line $$" to get management's attention.

An effective safety committee may not only help prevent employees' from getting hurt or killed on the job, it may help decrease future direct and indirect accident costs. An effective safety committee is a profit center, not a cost center for the company.

1. An effective safety committee _____.

a. is a cost center
b. is a profit center
c. is accountable to OSHA
d. enforces safety daily

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Benefits of a Safety Committee

As an internal consultant group, the safety committee solves problems.
  • The safety committee performs the role of a internal consultant to the employer. If your employer hired an external consultant it would cost thousands of dollars for the same service the safety committee can provide in-house.
  • The safety committee acts as a forum for management and labor to communicate safety related concerns. The benefits from improved communications may be hard to quantify, but they may be substantial.
  • Every hazard the safety committee identifies and is directly involved in eliminating results in significant savings in potential accident costs. We'll talk more about this later.
  • The safety committee can serve as a valuable problem solving group that addresses workplace conditions, morale and quality. By developing solutions, the safety committee improves the company's competitive advantage.
  • The safety committee is an excellent opportunity for employees to improve their professional skills in communications, human relations, problem solving, meeting management, and analysis. Since supervisors and managers should be informed about occupational safety and health, the safety committee is a natural "school" of preparation for future company managers. In fact, some companies even make it a prerequisite.

2. The safety committee performs the role of a internal _____ to the employer.

a. consultant
b. supervisor
c. human resources officer
d. contractor

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Who the Safety Committee Protects

It's all about keeping employees safe and healthful!

As we just saw, by identifying and controlling hazards and unsafe work practices, the safety committee protects employees and save lives. The safety committee also protects the employer by reducing direct and accident costs by many thousands of dollars.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 3 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2016. According to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, U.S. businesses spend more than one billion dollars a week on serious, nonfatal workplace injuries.

What do these statistics mean to you? Effective "profit center" safety committees have the potential to save not only lives and limbs, but lots of money. Many thousands of dollars each year can be saved in each company every time a safety committee uncovers and helps the employer eliminate hazardous conditions or unsafe work practices.

Every dollar invested in proactive safety, including safety committee activities, may return hundreds back. You've got to convince management that an effective safety committee not only saves lives, but saves money too.

3. Effective _____ safety committees have the potential to save not only lives and limbs, but lots of money.

a. centralized
b. cost center
c. profit center
d. management-controlled

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Write it Down

Put your plan down in writing: make it formal.

It's important to make sure the safety committee has a written policy statement to guide its actions. The policy statement should include:

  • the role and purpose(s) of the safety committee;
  • reasons for establishing the safety committee;
  • the need for management and employee participation;
  • the need for support by all departments;
  • responsibilities of the committee; and
  • duties of committee members.

Getting Organized

OK, you know the safety committee is going to be composed of a number of people from management and the labor force. What kind of structure should the safety committee take? Typically, the committee will have a chairperson (some will also have a co-chair), a recorder, and of course a number of members. You don't need a complicated bureaucratic structure.

4. Which of the following things should a policy statement include?

a. Role and purpose(s) of safety committee
b. Who is not attending the committee meetings
c. Which level of management is participating
d. Accident reports

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Duties of the Chairperson

The chairperson's performance is critical to the success of the committee.

The chairperson's job is, of course, one of the most important on the committee. He or she is the key coordinator ensuring the safety committee operates effectively. Below are some of the very important responsibilities of the chairperson.

  • prepare an agenda for meetings
  • arrange for meeting room
  • notify members of meeting dates/times
  • distribute agenda
  • delegate responsibilities
  • preside and conduct the meeting
  • enforce committee ground rules
  • communicate with the employer
  • report the status of recommendations

5. Which of the following is a chairperson's job on the committee?

a. Prepare an agenda for the meetings
b. Supervise the committee president
c. Write minutes of the meeting
d. Prepare accident reports

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Recorders are important. Get it down in writing or you'll forget it.

Duties of the Safety Committee Recorder

Let's not forget another very important responsibility: that of the recorder or secretary. This person assists the chairperson in making sure all communications are accurately recorded and distributed to committee members and others. Some duties of the recorder may include:

  • assisting the chairperson with agenda;
  • recording minutes of the meeting;
  • distributing and posting the minutes; and
  • assuming the chairperson's duties if necessary.

6. Which of the following is a recorder's job on the committee?

a. Delegate responsibilities
b. Arrange for a meeting room
c. Recording meeting minutes
d. Making exercises

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Duties of the Safety Committee Member

Helping with safety inspections is one important safety committee member responsibility.

For the safety committee to operate most effectively, everyone on the committee needs to be involved in some way. Safety committee members should do more than just report safety concerns from their departments. Below are some ideas for members.

  • Receive suggestions, concerns, reports from employees.
  • Report employee suggestions, concerns, reports to committee.
  • Report back to employees on their suggestions, concerns, reports.
  • Attend all safety committee meetings.
  • Receive training on safety and health subjects.
  • Review injury and illness reports.
  • Monitor safety and health programs and system.
  • Set example by taking action.
  • Conduct safety inspections.
  • Make recommendations for corrective action.
  • Assist in communicating committee activities to all employees.

7. Which of the following is a committee member's job?

a. Delegate responsibilities
b. Conduct the meeting
c. Distributing meeting minutes
d. Conduct safety inspections

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Safety Committee Membership

Safety Committee
Safety committees work best when management and labor are members.

The makeup of the committee membership is a very important consideration. Establishing joint labor-management committees is a popular method of employee participation. They are extensively and successfully used in many European countries and Canadian provinces.

Blast from the Past - Here's another short talk OSHAcademy's CEO, Steve Geigle, gave as an OR-OSHA training specialist. The message: Management and unions must work together.

Steve's image

Other types of committees also have been used successfully for safety and health participation. At many unionized worksites, employee safety committees -- with members selected by the union or elected by employees -- work alone, without management, on various tasks. At some worksites, hourly workers participate on a central safety committee.

In addition, some worksites use employee or joint committees for specific purposes, such as inspecting the site for hazards, investigating accidents and incidents, and training new employees. Finally, although they go by a different name, quality circles are another form of committee. They focus, at least part of the time, on identifying and resolving health and safety problems.

8. Safety committee membership is established through each of the following methods, EXCEPT _____.

a. union-selected committees
b. employee-elected committees
c. paid third-part selected
d. voluntary committees

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Makeup of the Safety Committee

Safety Committee
Members should represent all departments in the organization.

If one of the purposes of the safety committee is to bring management and labor together in a cooperative effort to improve the safety and health of workers, it just makes business sense to include representatives from management ranks as well as the work floor.

Management and labor can sit together and discuss their unique and common concerns regarding safety. The safety committee becomes a forum both management and labor may use, to ensure mutually acceptable solutions to problems can be reached.

It's important the safety committee not be dominated by management in general, or any one individual, be it the safety director, chairperson, or member. To make sure this does not happen, establish ground rules, and techniques for decision-making that promotes group consensus.

Management representatives and the chairperson will be the primary conduits of communications between the safety committee and the employer. Committee members are the primary communicators with employees. It's very important communication occurs in both directions.

9. Why is it important to establish ground rules and techniques for decision-making that promotes group consensus?

a. To make sure the safety manager controls the committee
b. Because the law requires it
c. To assure everyone thinks appropriately
d. To make sure one person does not dominate the committee

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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