The concept of a safety committee is not always taken seriously by many organizations. But whether or not your company is required to have one, it is critical to creating a safe and healthy workplace.
Also known as a joint loss management committee (JLMC), it is also an important part of an overarching safety program. Fortunately, forming an effective committee can be easy and significantly reduce your company’s risks and costs.
What is a workplace safety committee?
A safety committee consists of employees who assess potential and existing hazards in the workplace and focus on injury prevention. This group is responsible for communicating about these issues and coordinating safety efforts by:
- Encouraging colleagues to follow safety protocols.
- Recommending best practices to management.
Are all employers required to have one?
Not necessarily, but just because you’re not mandated to have a JLMC doesn’t mean you should skip it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have a federal requirement; however, the agency encourages organizations to form safety committees, and many states require them.
For example, New Hampshire requires that all employers with 15 or more employees must have a safety program and committee, and Vermont requires them for high hazard/high risk workplaces. On the other hand, Alabama requires employers to form one if requested to do so by an employee.
Contact your regional OSHA office to confirm your state’s laws.
Why is it important?
First, safety committees help create a safer work environment for everyone by:
- Representing all functions or departments to provide a comprehensive view of safety requirements and foresee all potential problems.
- Serving as an easily approachable group for safety or health complaints, suggestions, and concerns.
- Collaborating with management to effectively carry out safety training activities.
Of course, a safety committee can also offer financial benefits by reducing employee injuries, which lowers workers’ compensation premiums. In some states, employers may even receive a discount on their workers’ compensation premiums if they have a JLMC in place. Overall, it helps boost productivity and makes compliance easier.
What are a safety committee’s responsibilities?
Specifics may vary based on your state, industry, and company size, but some standard roles include:
- Establishing practices and procedures to improve operational safety.
- Developing safety training programs.
- Educating employees on workplace safety.
- Discussing safety concerns with employees and addressing their concerns.
- Investigating all potential and actual safety events and maintaining an updated report.
- Writing and updating safety manuals.
- Conducting regular inspections and resolving problems that pose safety risks.
- Reviewing claim summaries.
- Developing policies for dispute resolutions.
- Creating employee safety checklists.
- Advocating for employee safety.
- Conveying safety concerns and resolutions between employees and upper management.
- Creating and leading emergency drills.
- Facilitating compliance with safety-related state and federal workplace laws.
How can employers form a safety committee?
Whether your company needs to establish a safety committee due to requirements or simply because you’re ready to create and even safer workplace, you’ll need to:
- Research requirements: Find out what regulations your organization needs to follow to ensure your committee is compliant. Be sure to review any existing safety guidelines before forming a committee.
- Set a schedule: The committee should meet regularly, ideally every month. Schedule all meetings at least a year in advance. Set expectations for collaboration and professionalism.
- Create a meeting agenda: Important items to document include the safety committee bylaws, procedures, goals, and purpose. Bylaws should note specifics like the date and time of the regular meetings.
- Document everything: Your bylaws should also include a requirement that minutes be taken during all meetings. This ensures proof that safety standards have been implemented and risks identified.
Selecting Safety Committee Members
First, appoint a safety committee director. This individual should:
- Have a knack for motivating employees at every level
- Understand all of the company’s potential safety issues
You might also consider co-captain: One who acts as leader and spokesperson and one who organizes and drives progress.
The committee itself should include a mix of individuals dedicated to keeping employees safe and reducing or eliminating workplace hazards. An influential safety committee is composed of employees and managers from different departments and backgrounds, ensuring the group represents all workers. The number of members may also vary depending on state requirements.
Let’s use New Hampshire as an example again. The Granite State requires an equal number of employer and employee representatives on the committee. Employees with 20 or fewer employees must have at least two members, while those with more than 20 must have at least four members. The employee representatives must be selected by employees or by the union in the case of union workers.
Ideally, members should rotate in and out of the committee and between roles. Of course, if you have someone who excels in a specific role that no one else wants, let them keep it!
Standard Meeting Agenda
When you’re ready to have your first safety committee meeting, safety consulting firm Safety by Design recommends the following general agenda:
- Review minutes of last meeting
- Review recent incident reports
- Discuss current inspection reports
- Check status of goals and assignments
This agenda will ensure you address any health and safety issues and deal with them promptly.
Does your organization need more guidance in forming an effective safety committee? BlueLion will be happy to help you protect your company and employees. Contact us at 603-818-4131 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss health and safety solutions today.
The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.