A health and safety committee can play a pivotal role in ensuring optimal working conditions on the job. The committee acts as a platform for the workers and management teams to work together in identifying and evaluating potential hazards at the workplace and come up with solutions by working together. It is equally important to have members of this committee from every department or facility in order to ensure multiple points of view, recognize safety concerns in every facility and have a ripple effect between interconnected departments.
What are the roles and responsibilities of a safety committee?
1. The committee can begin with a thorough evaluation of existing data on injury, accidents and worker’s compensation records. This evaluation can help them analyze if the safety systems are efficient, reliable and effective and whether the activities are in line with the systems on a daily basis.
2. Safety surveys often complement incident investigation considering they help in identifying compliance to standards, detect problem areas and identify solutions and improvements. The aim initially must not be to eliminate the problems completely but take one step at a time by focusing on improving the existing systems and implement smaller safety improvement projects.
3. The committee must ensure that they get complete support from the senior management teams, without which the process of implementing any changes or improvements suggested might get slowed down or disrupted. The organization’s leadership needs to be involved as introducing anything new might need resources that can be provided by them.
4. Success of the committee in identifying, evaluation and controlling safety hazards hugely depends on a good understanding of safety strategies like LEAN and Six Sigma. It is important for each and every member of the committee to be educated on the strategies that the companies can adopt for better safety standards. The committee once educated on these strategies can help the organization in implementing those as well.
5. Once a hazard is identified, it becomes the responsibility of the committee to shut down the unsafe operation till the problem is rectified. It is in the best interest of the workers to stay away from hazardous operations till the time the committee is able to get the issue resolved.
6. Establishing procedures for workers to report safety hazards or suggest improvements without the fear of reprisal is one of the most important roles of the committee. The workers who are being exposed to safety hazards on a daily basis witness and experience the problems firsthand and can be a very good resource in not only identifying the safety concerns but suggesting solutions as well.
The overall effectiveness of a newly found committee or improving a present one depends on establishing transparent systems, conducting regular meetings, setting achievable goals and also celebrating the small achievements in order to motivate the members and inspire new ones to join.