Occupational Safety and Health Committees

Minimize risks for your business

By providing a forum for active participation of your key people, safety and health committees aid and advise both management and workers on matters of safety and health. Additionally, committees perform essential monitoring, educational, investigative and evaluative tasks. A successful committee has a defined purpose, identifiable staff and structure and management support to carry out its responsibilities.

Committee Types and Functions
Since requirements vary from one organization to another, the structure and scope of safety and health committees also varies. Committee effectiveness is determined by how it is organized, what guidelines it follows, how membership reflects your workforce, its degree of autonomy and where final authority lies for implementing recommendations.

Implement the committee type that best fills your requirements. Ensure its success by maintaining management’s active involvement to make it effective and responsible:

  • corporate or company committees
  • plant central committees
  • departmental committees
  • supervisors’ committees
  • workers’ committees
  • sub committees, such as behavioral safety, ergonomics, accident investigation and more

A safety and health committee performs many functions:

  • providing direction for the occupational safety and health program by establishing annual goals, objectives and action plans
  • discussing safety policies and recommending their adoption by management
  • discovering unsafe conditions and practices and providing solutions
  • obtaining results by putting management-approved recommendations into practice
  • teaching safety practices to committee members, who may then teach them to all personnel
  • stimulating and maintaining the interest of superintendents, foremen and group leaders while keeping them informed on safety matters
  • stimulating and maintaining the interest of workers to keep them aware of safety practices that prevent accidents
  • making safety activities an integral part of operating policies, methods and function
  • providing an opportunity for free discussion of accident problems and preventive measures, including a suggestion system to obtain information on unsafe conditions
  • helping your operating manager evaluate safety suggestions

Committee Membership, Policies and Procedures
Your corporate, company or plant central committees may find it valuable to consider some best practices, such as:

  • listing the policies and procedures that define the scope of committee activity, the extent of committee authority and enforceable procedures
  • documenting committee membership, meeting attendance and meeting minutes as well as the time, place and frequency of meetings
  • establishing committees of five to 15 members. Studies show committees of five or seven function most effectively and productively
  • representing the different departments in your business
  • appointing a management co-chairman to facilitate autonomy and authority in correcting at-risk behaviors
  • making sure the maintenance department is represented on the committee
  • allowing the co-chairpersons or workers to determine committee membership, as long as several departments are represented

To get the best results, look for committee members who are:

  • receptive to new ideas
  • familiar with the production processes
  • interested in safety and health issues
  • able to express ideas
  • interested in the needs of the entire workforce
  • willing to compromise when necessary
  • respected by co-workers
  • willing to attend meetings and work on projects

Develop a system that enables frequent committee membership rotation. This allows a number of employees to become actively involved in the safety effort and take part in the decision-making process. Stagger membership appointments to maintain a sense of continuity and avoid a complete turnover at the same time. Consider membership appointments in proportion to department size and the nature of work.

Committee Meetings
Consider adopting an order of business for safety committee meetings, including:

  • Call to order – Call the meeting to order promptly at the appointed time.
  • Roll call by the secretary – Record members and others present. Ask members who cannot attend to notify the secretary in advance so the reasons for absence can be noted in the minutes.
  • Introductions – Allow all members and visitors to introduce themselves and identify their job responsibilities.
  • Minutes – Read the previous meeting’s minutes and make any needed corrections.
  • Unfinished business – Reconsider all matters on which definite decisions have not been made.
  • Review of accidents and statistics – Discuss surface and underlying causes of past accidents and near accidents. Finding the cause is important - not assigning blame. Make recommendations to prevent future occurrences a part of this discussion.
  • Safety education – Request a member to speak at the next meeting and record the subject in the meeting minutes. Schedule other programs accordingly.
  • Inspection and recommendations – Inspect the facility regularly, sometimes using a subcommittee. Record in the minutes the inspection time, territory covered, unsafe conditions found and recommendations made. Take definite action on recommendations.
  • Posters – Question each member about the condition of bulletin boards in the committee’s jurisdiction. Posters are useful in obtaining subject matter for meetings.
  • New business – Appoint subcommittees to arrange for competition between departments or plants, special recognition of no-accident weeks or months, safety rally programs, outside speakers, accident statistics and revision of safety rules and shop practices.

Contact Us
Cincinnati’s loss control services are free to our policyholders. Let us tailor a loss control program for your business. For more information, or to schedule a meeting with a Cincinnati loss control representative, please contact your local independent agent representing Cincinnati.

Our loss control service is advisory only. We assume no responsibility for management or control of customer loss control activities or for implementation of recommended corrective measures. These materials were gathered from trade services and public information. We have not tried to identify all exposures. We do not warrant that this information is consistent with Cincinnati underwriting guidelines or with any federal, state or local law, regulation or ordinance.

All information reprinted with permission of Insurance Services Offices Inc.; Engineering and Safety, Copyright 2008.

For information, quotes, policy or loss control service, please contact your local independent agent representing The Cincinnati Insurance Companies. “The Cincinnati Insurance Companies” and “Cincinnati” refer to member companies of the insurer group providing property and casualty coverages through ?The Cincinnati Insurance Company or one of its wholly owned subsidiaries – ?The Cincinnati Indemnity Company, ?The Cincinnati Casualty Company or ?The Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters Insurance Company – and life and disability income insurance and annuities through ?The Cincinnati Life Insurance Company. Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products. Not all subsidiaries operate in all states. 6200 S. Gilmore Road, Fairfield, OH 45014-5141.

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