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April 26, 2022

"How Do You Do That?" Blog Series - Question 1: Safety Committees

Question: Our company decided to put together a Safety Committee and we really want people to volunteer to be on it but it’s been a week since we posted a notice asking for volunteers and so far the only names on the list are salaried managers and supervisors—but no hourly workers. We really don’t want to start picking hourly works to join or make it mandatory but if we don’t get a few hourly names soon, we’ll have to do that.

How do we get hourly workers interested in joining our new Safety Committee?

This is such a great question! Safety Committees can be extremely beneficial when a company is trying to improve its safety culture—but they can also be a big-time waster if they’re not set up the right way. Before we dive into how to get people interested in joining, let’s talk about a few key dynamics when putting together a Safety Committee that may help in your recruiting process.

Have a Plan

If you’re really serious about having an effective safety committee, you should treat the committee like you’d treat any other important safety activity and develop a written plan for it. That written plan should include at a minimum the following items:

  • A mission statement
  • Guidelines for how the committee will be structured
    • How members will be chosen & who will lead it
    • Membership terms
    • Meeting frequency
    • Roles & responsibilities of members
    • Committee expectations and goals
    • How the committee will be evaluated
  • Specific activities the committee will be responsible for
  • Procedures for keeping records (like minutes)
  • How the committee will communicate
  • Training requirements for committee members
  • Requirements for regular reviews and updates

By establishing a written plan and then adhering to it, you’ll be sending a clear message that this committee is an important part of the safety program.

Dos & Don’ts

While you’re putting your written plan together, here are a few “dos and don’ts” to consider:

Dos:

  • Do ask for volunteers
  • Do include hourly workers—but evaluate the suitability of each worker first
  • Do require the highest-ranking manager at the facility to lead the meetings  
  • Do have a budget (even if it’s a small one!)
  • Do establish a recurring meeting day and time—and if you have rotating work schedules, establish a plan for both day and night shift workers to attend
  • Do provide some “swag”—like shirts, hats, patches, etc.
  • Do take minutes & share them
  • Do track activities and outcomes—and post them for everyone to see
  • Do plan fun activities (which we’ll talk about later)

Don’ts:

  • Don’t reschedule the monthly meeting unless it’s an emergency. When this meeting gets routinely canceled for other things, the message you’re sending is that it’s less important than everything else.
  • Don’t let the meetings turn into a place where workers can come and air their grievances—and don’t let workers present a problem without including their ideas for a solution.
  • Don’t let managers or supervisors prevent hourly team members from attending the meetings because of production or operational needs. If the meetings are on the same day and time every month, the manager and/or supervisor should be able to schedule around the meetings.

Now that we’ve talked about having a written plan and have given a few dos and don’ts, let’s talk about how to increase interest from the workforce.

Make it Interesting & Fun

When a person considers joining a team, usually it’s because either the team offers something for that person professionally or because the team activities are of interest—and the Safety Committee should be no different. Finding interesting and interactive activities for the safety committee will guarantee you’ll always have people interested in participating. Here are a few suggestions to help get things started!

Fun Training Events:

  • SKYWARN® Weather Spotter Training – The National Weather Service (NWS) offers weather spotter training (both in-person and online). This training is free & is usually about 2 hours (which is longer than a typical safety committee meeting but still totally worth it!).

  • Air Ambulance Landing Zone Class – Contact your local fire department or air ambulance company to see if they will come out and provide training on setting up a landing zone for an air ambulance. This training is also usually free and involves landing an air ambulance (helicopter) at your location. Who wouldn’t love that?

  • American Red Cross Training – Provide some rescue training such as First Aid/CPR/AED training. Even if this doesn’t result in additional members to the safety committee, at least you’ll be getting workers trained to help in an emergency.

Fun Group Activities:

  • Host a Safety Day – Plan a Safety Day and invite local emergency responders to your facility. This is especially good for manufacturing facilities because it gives local emergency responders an opportunity to get acquainted with the facility setup and also to provide suggestions for ways to make it easier for them should they have to respond during an emergency. (Hint: local responders love free food, so offer lunch!)

  • Host a 5S Event – Ever heard of 5S? 5S events are a great way to clean up and organize parts of your facility—and they don’t have to be huge events to be effective. And, if you end up with a bunch of old equipment, machinery or other usable items that you don’t know what to do with, have an inter-company auction and raise money for something (or donate the items).

  • Host a Food/Clothing/Toys/Blood Drive – Every community has people in need. What better way to solidify your company’s commitment to serving the community than to host an event to collect food, clothing, toys, or even blood? These kinds of events can be small and unobtrusive while providing a great team activity that’s good for the company and the community.

  • Host a Health & Safety Fair – If your company doesn’t offer annual health & safety fair, you should consider this as an activity for the Safety Committee. If you’re not sure how to get this started, reach out to your company’s medical insurance provider and ask for guidance. Many times they will offer materials and other freebies to help get you started.

Other Activities to Consider:

  • OSHA 10 Hour and/or 30 Hour Training – For those people who are serious about improving their safety knowledge, offer them the ability to participate in OSHA 10 and/or 30 Hour training courses. These courses can be taken online and when a participant completes the course (and passes the test at the end) the certification never expires and workers can take it with them wherever they go.

  • Guest Speakers – Bring in a guest speaker to talk about an aspect of health and/or safety that is relevant to your organization.
  • Workplace Safety Inspections – A great activity for any Safety Committee is performing workplace safety inspections. When these inspections are designed properly, they can promote a deeper understanding of regulatory requirements and help identify safety issues so they can be resolved before causing injury or illness. (If you’re not sure where to start with this, click the link for OSHA’s updated checklist.)

A Final Word

Getting people interested in participating in a Safety Committee doesn’t have to be difficult and it can be a lot of fun. But, if the suggestions we’ve mentioned don’t spark your interest or if you’re not sure any of these ideas are suitable, the next best thing to do is to ask! Getting buy-in from your workforce on what kinds of activities or events would be of interest and that might make them more inclined to join a Safety Committee is always a great plan.