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Establishing an Effective Safety Committee

Safety

Reposted with permission from constructionexec.com, June 9, 2019, all rights reserved. Copyright 2019.

In the world of construction, there is nothing more important than safety. One growing risk to job site safety today is distraction caused by personal technology. Nearly everyone in today’s culture has a cell phone or other mobile device in hand or tucked in a pocket, and it only takes one moment of diversion to put someone at risk of getting seriously injured (or worse) on the job.

Safety committees can be an effective method for enhancing employee engagement and participation in daily work, especially when it comes to this modern distraction of technology. Safety committee members can be the eyes and ears of an organization on and off the job site, providing a structured forum for employees to express concerns as well as provide solutions for improving workplace hazards and processes. Ultimately, a safety committee works for the good of the entire organization — its employees, leaders and customers.

WHO SHOULD BE ON A SAFETY COMMITTEE?

The committee should be a healthy mixture of employees across all facets of the business such as site leadership, supervisors, safety and engineering. People with budget and decision-making authority should be on board to expedite any new policies or expenses resulting from the safety committee’s efforts. Most importantly, the majority of the committee should consist of employees directly involved with daily work on job sites. This group of employees best understands what causes the aches and pains of the job and will be critical in making process improvements.

Once a safety committee is in place, it’s important to make sure it will be sustainable throughout the life of the company and that it can grow and adapt to any changes that might happen in the future. Placing people on the safety committee who work in the day-to-day environment will ensure a company stays abreast of any safety concerns happening in the field.

HOW SHOULD A SAFETY COMMITTEE OPERATE?
When starting a safety committee, the team should establish meeting ground rules and goals. Establishing a solid base for meetings to follow will keep everyone on track and ensure time is being spent in the most productive manner possible. A few common practices include:

  • reviewing and considering all employee ideas;
  • encouraging open and honest discussion;
  • promoting ideas that have the greatest impact; and
  • ensuring everyone understands how ideas will be prioritized and implemented.
HOW DOES THE SAFETY COMMITTEE CHOOSE WHERE TO FOCUS ITS EFFORTS?

It’s important to use meeting time efficiently, and collecting data can help justify specific hazards to focus on. Data that can be useful to the team includes:

  • near misses;
  • injury and incident data and trends; and
  • risk assessments.
HOW DOES THE SAFETY COMMITTEE IMPLEMENT ITS IDEAS?

In many cases the team can implement a simple fix to a hazard that requires minimal time, effort or money. In other situations, however, the fix may require new equipment or re-engineering, which can result in higher costs and delayed implementation. Either way, it’s important that the fix be justified based on the risk of the task being performed. It doesn’t make sense to spend a significant amount of time and money on a low-risk task, just as it doesn’t make sense to put a band-aid on a high-risk task.

In the end, the benefits of a safety committee far outweigh the costs. A committee that is specifically focused on the safety of each employee and the company overall will be able to evaluate and review safety concerns with a proactive approach, working to identify potential hazards before they become issues. Touching base regularly will improve safety processes, catch areas that need improvement and ensure that the company is putting the well-being of its employees at the forefront of everything it does.

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