Worcester Business Journal article by Matt Pillsbury
Last year was full of safety concerns for just about every industry, and 2021 is no different. As the threat of COVID-19 transmission decreases thanks to vaccination, it’s important to remember workplace safety shouldn’t take a back seat. In fact, you now have a great opportunity to continue the focus on health and take a wellness approach toward your employees’ safety instead of just doing what is required to check a box.
A powerful tool you can use to prevent injury and improve employee health and safety is a working safety committee. Perhaps you already have a working safety committee, but is it actually effective, or just meeting to fulfill a requirement? A poll by Safety & Health Magazine found only 32.6% of its readers said their safety committees were effective.
An effective working safety committee is made up of a mix of salaried and hourly employees, as well as stakeholders from different departments. When assembling your committee, make sure it is a representation of your company. This helps gather a variety of viewpoints and helps your employees feel represented.
Once you assemble your working safety committee, you need its members to commit to meeting a regular schedule so safety doesn’t get ignored. We recommend holding your committee meetings monthly on a regular basis, for example, the first Monday of every month at 1 p.m. Your committee must create an agenda ahead of time, to stay on track.
You can get some great ideas for meeting topics from your insurance agent/broker or your insurance carrier. They have access to a huge library of information, material, and statistics. You can ask your insurer if someone from their company can attend your meeting to present on topics. We recommend asking your agent or carrier for statistics on the top five causes of injury in your specific industry. With this, you’ll be able to effectively address 70%-85% of your industry’s injuries.
It’s all good and well to discuss safety at your working safety committee meetings, but you should take it a step further and analyze what is working and what isn’t in your company.
1. Review all past injuries, especially those in the last month, and ask, how could they have been prevented?
2. Is everyone aware of all the safety measures for every job they perform?
3. Are employees held accountable when they don’t wear safety equipment or apply the relevant safety rules?
4. Do you have good working safety equipment for everyone, or do you need to order anything new?
5. Do you continually replace old damaged equipment?
6. Do you upgrade your equipment with the latest and greatest equipment on a continual basis?
There is an incredible amount of value in your existing injury data and in stopping to take the pulse of your safety procedures. Each injury presents an opportunity to learn and prevent future injuries, but you can only do that if you regularly review.
Decreasing the incidence of injury in your company relies on effective communication. The working safety committee plays a vital role in that communication and ensures you’re addressing the most important issues.
Remember, it’s important for your working safety committee and for all of your employees to understand you truly value and prioritize safety. When your employees trust the company has their best interests at heart, they’ll be more likely to raise concerns, which is exactly the kind of participation creating a safer work environment.