How We Set Up a Safety Committee at My Company
I have been working in the automobile OEM segment for more than two decades now. At most companies, safety had been about avoiding litigation and the top management didn’t really care too much about the actual safety of workers on the shop floor. This attitude was shocking, yet rampant in my industry, sespite the fact that millions are injured every year. In fact, almost 2.8 million nonfatal occupational injuries were reported by private industry employers in 2015, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
About a year back, I joined a multi-brand OEM company that is much more caring about workers in all respects. A couple of months back, we set up a safety committee and I loved the experiences. Here are some of the activities undertaken to set up this committee that aimed to inculcate a culture of safety.
Steps We Took to Set Up the Safety Committee
Determining the goals: This process began with brainstorming to lay down the immediate and long-term goals. The aim was to keep the goals simple, measurable and achievable.
Choosing the members: Since our workplace comprised of workers from different ethnic and economic backgrounds, we choose a diverse mix of members. We felt that if every worker believed that he/she was well represented, it would be easier to get everyone’s buy-ins and commitment to the cause.
Selecting rotating safety champions: We laid out a schedule such that every member would rotationally become the leader of the committee and the safety champion for a certain timeframe. The safety champion would be responsible for identifying training gaps, ensuring proper sessions on safety and actively encouraging people to follow the safety signs and guidelines.
Preparing the training material: Apart from the regulations, we consulted with OSHA’s recommended practices for the health and safety of workers. We developed some templates to make the training material simple and more engaging.
Scheduling meetings: We had to determine various aspects of the meetings. We decided that the committee would meet once a month, on the first Friday of every month. It was also laid out that the person heading the next meeting would need to email others regarding the agenda of the meeting a week ahead. Other members could respond to the email requesting for certain items to be added to the agenda, while it was left to the discretion of the person heading the meeting to accept or reject those items.
Building a new sign system: Even before deciding on setting up the safety committee, we knew that we needed a new sign system. This was made part of the first responsibilities of the safety committee. We got professionals from Clarion Safety Systems to walk through our facility, both inside and outside, and make recommendations on the location and design of all the safety signs and markings we required. This exercise proved to be very effective in planning the new system.
It was amazing to see the enthusiasm in the top management and workers regarding this safety committee. We’ve only been operational for two months, but I’m sure such initiatives go a long way not only to ensure safety, but also to create a team that is more strongly knit.