Special Topics in Safety Management

Bad Safety Committee! No Biscuit! Avoid These Safety Committee Pitfalls

Maybe you have to have a safety committee because state law requires you to. Maybe you thought it was a good idea when you started it, but it has never worked out like you hoped. Maybe you poured your efforts into establishing a safety committee, but workers never seemed to trust it fully. What’s keeping your safety committee from doing what you need it to?

So now, you’re stuck in a rut. The committee still meets once a month or once a quarter—but only a few of the members show up. You still review the suggestions from the suggestion box—but there are so few of those, you’ve started covertly adding your own to the mix. Committee members used to enthusiastically suggest fixes for hazards in the workplace; now you can’t get them to put down their phones long enough to make eye contact. What went wrong?

Safety Committee Pitfalls

These common pitfalls may be derailing your safety committee’s efforts and undermining morale:

Lack of purpose. Does your committee know what it’s supposed to be doing? Workers generally know what it is that they’re supposed to produce, but a safety committee’s goals are less clear. Without a clear purpose, no group can work effectively.

Top-heavy management representation. Who is on your safety committee? A management representative should be there, but remember that the point is to get workers involved.

Achieving safety excellence requires you to involve employees in every aspect of safety. Join us for this webinar on January 27th to develop, implement, and track the progress of an employee-driven safety program.

No budget. A committee should be considered an investment, and management needs to provide adequate tools and resources. Funds may be needed for member training, safety and health fairs, and other activities.

Failure to orient new members. Those new to the committee may be unaware of group dynamics and past issues. Bring new members up to speed by providing minutes and other documents. If possible, let departing members orient the newcomers.

Lack of follow-up. Committees can rise and fall on their reputation for doing what they say they will do. Committee leaders should request formal status reports and should review assignments at the end of each meeting to keep everyone on the same page. Many committee agendas list not only the topic to be discussed but also the person responsible for seeing the issue through.

If your employees aren’t engaged, you may experience higher rates of work-related injuries and illnesses. Attend this webinar to learn how to get everyone to fully engage in your safety program.

Lackluster participation. The best members are active, involved participants who eagerly share their passion for safety with their coworkers. Leaders should find ways to get all members involved and fully representing their department or work group.

Same old, same old. Committees must innovate to maintain interest and involvement. Encourage leaders to learn about successful committees at other businesses and borrow good ideas. Plan a committee-led safety day or safety mentor program. Canvass employees to make sure their good ideas are getting through. Ask a safety committee member to address your board of directors annually so that those at the top are aware of the committee’s activities.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at strategies for getting your safety committee right.