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June 7, 2021

Safety committees: It’s more than a requirement, it’s good business

Scott Rief

Safety committees can be an invaluable part of a hazard control program by providing a forum for active participation of key people in the organization. A safety committee is a group that can aid and advise both management and workers on matters of safety and health pertaining to company operations. In addition, it can perform essential monitoring, educational, investigative, and evaluative tasks. A successful committee has a defined purpose, has identified its staffing and structure, and has management support to carry out its responsibilities.

Protect your employees from injury and the organization from avoidable costs by organizing or re-energizing your safety committee.

Who is required to have a safety committee?

In states not regulated by Federal OSHA, employers are not required to have a safety committee. However, it is a best practice for many reasons.

Many states have their own state-run OSHA program that meets or exceeds Federal OSHA regulations. For example, in Minnesota the law requires employers with more than 25 employees to administer a safety committee.

Employers regulated by state-run programs who have fewer than 25 employees may still be required to have a committee depending on your company’s industry and accident history.

Your safety committee should be made up of a mix of employees and management with representatives from both production and administration. It is important to rotate members out periodically in order to introduce fresh ideas and perspectives. The size of the committee should be appropriate so that meetings are productive and everyone involved can participate. Below are some qualities to look for in a good committee member:

  • Receptive to new ideas

  • Familiar with the production processes and/or business operations

  • Interested in safety and health issues

  • Able to express ideas

  • Interested in the needs of the entire workforce

  • Respected by co-workers

  • Willing to take the time to attend meetings and work on projects

If your company has multiple locations that all do essentially the same thing, one committee is adequate. Companies with multiple locations of 50 or more employees should have a safety committee at each location. 

The Functions of Your Safety Committee

Your safety committee should:

  • Establish annual goals, objectives, and action plans

  • Conduct walkthrough surveys/inspections of the workplace to identify safety and health concerns on a regular basis

  • Conduct regularly scheduled meetings to discuss accident prevention methods, safety and health awareness efforts, hazards noted on inspections and other subjects as needed

  • Review accidents that resulted in injury

  • Review “Near Misses”. A Near Miss as an incident in which no property was damaged and no personal injury was sustained, but where, given a slight shift in time or position, damage or injury could have easily occurred

  • Develop recommendations and corrective actions based on findings from walkthroughs and inspections

  • Promote safety and first aid training for all employees

Some benefits of a safety committee may include:

  • Reduced injuries and insurance claims

  • Decreased OSHA citations and other state penalties

  • Promoting a positive safety culture among the entire company

  • Providing an environment for problem solving

  • Providing firsthand knowledge of workplace processes via walkthroughs and inspections

  • Having employees working together for a safer workplace

  • Involving more people in the company’s safety and health management

  • Giving employees broader base of safety knowledge

For more ideas on how to get started, please download MMA’s guide-Building an Effective Safety Committee. For assistance with your committee, contact your local MMA Safety Consultant.