Establishing a Safety Committee

Creating a safe environment is an ongoing process and it’s important to invest in a culture of learning and improvement at your organization. That way, when and if things go wrong, you can learn and grow as a team.

The safety committee for your organization should be started and led by senior management. But, you can also create a departmental safety committee, or bring these ideas to your management.

Though dedicated staff members may sometimes take initiative to improve safety procedures on their own, creating a safety committee is a great way to institutionalize this process, keeping an organization on the path towards a safer environment.

Safety committees meet regularly to review accident reports, looking for patterns and opportunities for improvement. Committee members can also undertake self-inspection to make sure safety protocols are being followed.

Here are a few tips for creating an effective safety committee:

Have Clear Objectives and Responsibilities
“Improving safety” is too broad a mission. Setting an objective—for example, reducing the number of incident reports by 20%—and clearly defining safety committee duties will help keep members focused on the task at hand.

Keep Committee a Manageable Size
Safety committees benefit from having a diverse set of members, familiar with many different facets of an organization. However, too many members make for unwieldy meetings. Generally, five to ten members is a good group size. Periodically rotating membership can help avoid burnout.

Show Support from Senior Management
A culture committed to constantly improving safety needs to stem from senior management. Ideally, someone from senior management will participate in the committee. Even if senior management opts not to serve regularly on the committee, regularly showing gratitude for the committee member’s time and energy will help keep committee meetings from feeling like an unwanted obligation.

Keep Meetings Short and Focused
No one wants to serve on a safety committee if it entails sitting through long, rambling meetings where nothing is accomplished. Whether you decide to rotate leadership or have a committee chair, make sure someone is tasked with facilitating each meeting. Publish meeting agendas ahead of time and commit to finishing on time.

Delegate Tasks
If a topic or task begins to take up too much of the committee’s time, delegate the task to a smaller group that can meet on their own time to tackle the task at hand. Subcommittees are a great way to get non-committee members involved, who may have passion or insight into the subcommittee’s focus.

Review Progress
Periodically look back and see how effective the safety committee has been at creating a safer environment for your organization. If it has not made substantial change, consider changing procedures or reshuffling membership to try and improve efficacy. Be sure to celebrate successes.

For more tips, check out our guide on Establishing a Safety Committee.