Determine and Document the Purposes of Safety Committees
Safety Committees Are Required by Law
Many countries require by law the formation of safety committees. For example, a number of states in the U.S. require organizations to have safety committees if they have above a certain number of workers. Federal and provincial legislation in Canada include requirements and guidelines for “Joint Health and Safety Committees”. Many European countries also have requirements for safety committees.
Even if your company, business unit, or workgroup operates in a jurisdiction without a legal requirement for safety committees, it’s still a good practice to have them. Safety committees bring management and employees together, and foster a safety culture.
What Purposes Should Safety Committees Have?
In some countries, states or provinces, the same regulations that require safety committees also define the missions that should be pursued by the committees. But this may not be the case everywhere.
If there are no clear purposes, there is a risk that a safety committee becomes a discussion forum that contributes no value. It becomes just another meeting in the calendar among many.
Determine and document the purposes of safety committees to be sure that they add value. Check out this list from WorkSafeMT in its best practice document, which you can use as a starting point:
- Promote and maintain the interest of employees in health and safety issues.
- Educate managers, supervisors and employees through awareness and training activities that they are primarily responsible for the prevention of workplace accidents.
- Help make health and safety activities an integral part of the organization’s operating procedures, culture and programs.
- Provide an opportunity for the free discussion of health and safety problems and possible solutions.
- Inform and educate employees and supervisors about health and safety issues, new standards, research findings, etc.
- Help reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses.
- Help ensure compliance with federal and state health and safety standards.
Once they’re defined, be sure to document the purposes in the mission statement of each safety committee, and to communicate them to management and employees.
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