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October 08, 2015
How effective is your safety committee?

When it comes to occupational safety and health committees, checking the box is not sufficient. Find out if your committee is effective by benchmarking your efforts against an expert’s recommendations.

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According to Mylene Kellerman of the Florida OSHA consultation program, “A safety committee’s potential value and benefit is only as good as its defined purpose, functions and activities—and follow-through.” Kellerman sees the role of committees as reducing worker illness and injury rates by identifying health and safety risks and potential hazards, making recommendations and developing strategies to decrease incidents, conducting safety audits, and, most important, empowering coworkers to play a role in employee protection.

Here are her recommendations for ensuring safety committee effectiveness.

  • Member training. Committee members should be adequately trained in OSHA regulations and incident prevention so that they can educate coworkers. Members also need to know how to run effective meetings.
  • Communication with top brass. Clear and frequent communication between management and the committee is essential. Messages should focus on safety expectations, goals, solutions, and challenges.
  • Meeting consistency. Meet regularly on a specific day and at a specific time. When meetings are scheduled in advance, members are in a better position to be able to attend.
  • Staying focused. Prohibit non-safety-related issues during meetings. Tackling other topics takes time away from the task at hand.
  • Leadership support. Employees need to know that leadership is 100 percent dedicated to the safety committee’s mission. Leaders should monitor committee progress and provide direction, coaching, and training.
  • Accountability. Frequent checks against expectations help ensure that goals are being met. Every project or task should be assigned to an individual or team. Follow-up reports assess the status of the action items.
  • Recognition of accomplishments. Acknowledge and publicize the committee’s achievements in your newsletter, eblast, or during live meetings. This helps the rank and file know what the committee is up to and can also serve to motivate members.
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