ESD 112 Insurance Programs Safety Talks

Is your district safety committee effective?

Is your safety committee doing all it can and should be doing? Successful safety committees have a clear understanding of their purpose, why the group exists, and what they are trying to accomplish.

Where is the requirement for a safety committee found?

According to WAC 296-800-130 all employers of eleven or more employees must have a designated safety committee composed of employer-selected and employee-elected members. The frequency of meetings is determined by the committee, but a minimum of a quarterly meeting is recommended. If you have 10 or fewer employees, you have the choice of either establishing a safety committee or holding monthly safety meetings with a management representative present. Minutes are required and should be kept on record for one year.

What is the purpose of the safety committee?

The purpose of the safety committee is to bring workers and management together in a non-adversarial, cooperative effort to promote safety and health. An effective committee can help prevent injury and illness on the job, increase awareness of health and safety issues, develop strategies to make the school environment safe and healthy, and help develop a sense of teamwork while allowing employees to participate in the safety process.

What are some of the activities the safety committee is involved with?

  • The safety committee reviews safety and health inspection reports, including employee reports, to help correct safety and health hazards.
  • Accept and evaluate employee suggestions.
  • Assist in accident and near-miss investigations.
  • Conduct in-house safety inspections to identify safety problems.
  • Take action to address and correct safety-related problems.
  • Evaluate the workplace accident prevention program and discuss recommendations for improvement if needed.
  • Develop safe work practices and policies.
  • Promote and publicize safety.
  • Setting a good example for others.

How do we have effective meetings?

Successful meeting tips include:
  • Start on time. Plan the meeting around a critical objective so your meeting stays on task. Keep the focus on safety and health issues.
  • Determine what content is of interest and value. Folks are likely to get more out of topics that are relevant to what they do and the risks and hazards they are exposed to.
  • Make the meeting interactive. Encourage all to participate by asking questions and seeking suggestions.
  • Vary the format. Ask your ESD Loss Control Consultant to attend your meeting and present on a topic of common interest. Do a case study of an accident to determine causes and solutions.
  • Respect everyone’s opinion.
  • Follow up on identified issues. A common complaint is that “we bring stuff up but nothing gets done about it.” Establish action items and responsibilities: Who, what and when?
  • Close the meeting on time and on a positive note.
  • Prepare and post meeting minutes so employees are aware of the committee’s value.
Each staff member is expected to cooperate in all aspects of the district’s safety and health program. If everyone does their part by doing what is necessary to ensure workplace safety and health, all will benefit. No job is so important that we cannot take time to do it safely.
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