June 27, 2018
Your safety committee can play an important role in loss prevention
Your safety committee can be a powerful tool for injury prevention.
A group of dedicated employees from throughout your company focused on making your workplace safer can make a real difference.
Whether you have a safety committee already or are thinking of starting one, you can use these ideas as a guide.
The value in being proactive
For one SFM policyholder, a proactive step taken by a safety committee member helped prevent what could have been a serious injury.
This committee had created safety checklists in partnership with workers in different areas of the business. They walked through the checklists before each committee meeting.
On one walk-through, a safety committee member discovered a frayed cord on a welder. The employee immediately reported the defect and had the machine taken offline until it could be fixed. He didn’t wait until the meeting to report the issue, since this could cause electrocution. The committee member was proactive and empowered to address safety concerns on the spot.
Safety committees are most effective when they can identify issues and have the power and resources to solve them. When a safety committee is working as it should, employees and managers work together to address safety concerns before they cause injuries. A successful committee can boost morale when employees feel heard and see their concerns addressed.
Benefits of a safety committee
You may be required by law to have a safety committee, but even if you’re not, it’s worth considering.
In Minnesota and Iowa, companies with more than 25 employees are required to have a safety committee that meets regularly. Some companies with fewer than 25 employees may also need a committee, depending on their safety record and industry. States under federal OSHA do not have a safety committee requirement. (If you’re not sure whether you need a safety committee, check with your regional OSHA office.)
Even if you’re not required to have a safety committee, it can help you:
- Give employees an avenue to bring up safety concerns
- Identify and correct hazards before they cause an injury
- Involve management and employees in making safety part of your company culture
- Educate employees about risks
- Reduce the risk of OSHA citations or other state penalties
And of course, if the committee’s work can prevent even one worker injury, it’s time well spent.
Safety committee responsibilities
Once your safety committee is established, you’ll want to define its scope and responsibilities.
You may decide to make your committee responsible for some or all of the following:
- Reviewing your safety policies and practices
- Doing regular safety walk-throughs of your facility and noting any concerns
- Encouraging employees to report safety hazards to your group
- Looking at past incidents and “near misses” for patterns and areas to focus on
- Looking ahead to potential issues that could happen in the near-term
The committee provides a venue for front-line employees and managers to work together. It engages people at all levels of the organization and helps to build a culture of safety.
Seven activities to promote safety
Are you looking for ideas to inspire your employees or to re-invigorate your safety committee? Get the committee out of the conference room and out into your facility with these ideas for hands-on activities:
- Write safety tips for your company newsletter or intranet
- Schedule a series of Supervisor Initiated Trainings (SITs) on relevant topics
- Record a video about a safety issue
- Hang up safety posters from SFM around the facility
- Create an award for employees who are “caught” practicing safety
- Bring in an ergonomics specialist to evaluate workstation set-up
- Involve committee members in choosing personal protective equipment
When your safety committee is engaged and empowered, it can serve as a vital piece of your loss prevention program. With enthusiastic members and creative activities, the committee can spread a culture of safety to every employee.