This week’s Safetip is about safety committees and going beyond regularly-scheduled meetings to making a safety committee act as a fact-finding body.
Having safety committees is a regulatory requirement in many U.S. states for companies above a certain number of employees. Federal and provincial legislation in Canada includes requirements and guidelines for “Joint Health and Safety Committees”. Many European countries also require safety committees.
Safety Committees Should Assist Employers in Fact-Finding
Under the Montana Safety Culture Act, the state requires that all employers with more than five employees have a safety committee. Among the requirements, every safety committee must include activities that assist the employer in fact-finding. The Montana Department of Labor & Industry recommends that the committee document its activities, and act as a fact-finding body and report to the employer regarding:
- Assessing and controlling hazards.
- Assessing safety training and awareness topics.
- Communicating with employees regarding safety committee activities.
- Developing safety rules, policies and procedures.
- Educating employees on safety-related topics.
- Evaluating the safety program on a regular basis.
- Inspecting the workplace.
- Keeping job-specific training current.
- Motivating employees to create a safe culture in the workplace.
- Reviewing workplace incidents, injuries, illnesses and fatalities.
Making a safety committee act as a fact-finding body and report to employers is a sound advice that should be considered by everyone. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) also has a list on how a joint health and safety committee should assist employers. Many items are similar to the list from Montana:
- Recognize workplace hazards.
- Evaluate the risk of accidents/incidents, injuries and illness.
- Participate in development and implementation of programs to protect the employees’ safety and health.
- Respond to employee complaints and suggestions concerning safety and health.
- Ensure the maintenance and monitoring of injury and work hazard records.
- Monitor and follow-up hazard reports and recommend action.
- Set up and promote programs to improve employee training and education.
- Participate in safety and health inquiries and investigations, as appropriate.
- Consult with professional and technical experts.
- Participate in resolving workplace refusals and work stoppages.
- Make recommendations to management for accident prevention and safety program activities.
- Monitor effectiveness of safety programs and procedures.
In conclusion, make sure your safety committee does more than simply organize and run safety meetings. It should also help employers identify opportunities for improvement by acting as a fact-finding body. But you can go even further: enlist safety committee members as evangelists, make them owners of action plans, and give them a big role to play in employee engagement, so they become catalysts of change.
Here are links to additional Safetips on safety committees:
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