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Safety Tip of the Month

Form a Successful Safety Committee
Many organizations address safety issues with a safety committee that includes employees and managers. If you’re tapped to set up such a committee, keep this advice in mind to support its success:

  • Make sure management is fully involved. If upper management thinks forming a committee is a quick fix for its safety problems, nothing much will change. Get top executives solidly behind the idea of working together with employees on safety issues before you start.
  • Design specific goals. “Safety” can be a vague concept. Will the committee focus on reducing the number of accidents, cutting workers’ comp costs, or some other measurable goal? Attack significant hazards instead of minor issues or regulatory concerns.
  • Recruit the right people. Look for employees and managers who have shown an interest in safety issues–perhaps people who have made safety suggestions in the past. (Bear in mind that trouble in finding volunteers may be a symptom that people don’t think management will take the committee seriously.)
  • Be consistent with meetings. Hold them at the same time on the same day so members can plan their schedules and won’t have any excuse for not attending. Changing meeting times often will disrupt people’s schedules and weaken their commitment.
  • Keep meetings organized. Prepare an agenda. Start and finish on time. Limit discussion to safety-related matters. Get input from every member by going around the table for ideas and concerns.
  • Assign people to take action. Once you’ve identified a problem, assign a member or a team to take action on it. Follow up at the next meeting with a solution or status report. Be careful to keep accurate records of each meeting to limit misunderstandings about who was supposed to do what.
  • Locate a safety professional as a resource. You’ll want to educate team members on safety matters, but you’d better identify an expert on workplace safety to whom you can go for advice and support on specific matters that may be outside your committee’s area of expertise–OSHA regulations, for example.
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