Nine best practices to make your safety committee more effective

In some states, organizations with more than 25 employees must have a safety committee.

Even if your state doesn’t require it, having a committee with the goal of preventing injuries and accidents is worth the time and resources, especially if yours follows these best practices:

1. Define the role and responsibilities of your committee.

Develop a written mission statement. Clearly define the duties and responsibilities of the members. Identify and prioritize goals, and establish action plans to achieve each goal.

2. Conduct regularly scheduled meetings.

Use the time to discuss accident prevention methods, safety promotion, hazards noted on inspections and other pertinent topics. Review incidents that result in injury as well as the “near misses” that didn’t.

3. Review accident investigation forms.

Digging deep into the circumstances of accidents will help you prevent them in the future. SFM has a standard accident analysis form available . Have all of the supervisors use the same form to make it easier for the safety committee to review them.

4. Look for claim trends.

Look for patterns and relationships in your workers’ compensation claims. Consider three data columns as starting points for your analysis: body part, cause of injury and result of injury. Look for patterns by comparing with other columns, like occupation and business location. If you start by using a report of claim activity from your workers’ compensation insurer, you might want to consider expanding and tailoring your report to include internal information, such as department, shift and supervisor — whatever you think might help narrow the hunt on when, where and why certain injuries are occurring.

5. Conduct inspections.

Developing a safety review and inspection process to identify operational hazards and observe employee work methods is worthwhile. Periodic inspections allow you to gauge the effectiveness of your efforts. During a safety review you should look for: workplace environmental hazards, workstation set-up, work activity, modified work tasks and employees’ awareness of conditions.

6. Eliminate hazards. Correct employees’ unsafe behaviors.

To be effective, your inspections need follow-through. Unsafe conditions must be eliminated. Unsafe behaviors need to be corrected. Document your inspections, including appropriate follow-up procedures. Determine whether past recommendations have been addressed and implemented.

7. Promote safety.

Keeping safety in front of the employees will remind them of the importance and will increase their awareness of hazards. There are several ways to promote safety that can work in any type of organization including: safety contests, posters, special safety/health events, guest speakers and training programs, employee suggestion programs and safety recognition awards.

8. Take action.

Following up and taking action are key. If someone is injured or nearly injured, take corrective action to prevent similar accidents from occurring again. Follow up to ensure these corrections are made quickly. This might require increased safety training, additional equipment or safer work methods.

9. Recommend safety training.

The purpose of training is to influence employees’ behaviors. Safety orientation should be provided to all workers. It ensures that they are familiar with the hazards of the workplace, explains how to use this information, and instructs on safety roles and responsibilities. It’s a good idea to provide training regularly and to have a training calendar to support those efforts.

For free educational resources you can use to aid in training, visit the Resource Catalog.

Remember, just having a safety committee isn’t enough. Your committee needs to be supported by management and have authority to make changes that will help impact injury prevention in your workplace.

This is not intended to serve as legal advice for individual fact-specific legal cases or as a legal basis for your employment practices.

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