Safety committees may require an injection of spice in order to remain effective. (diego cervo/Adobe Stock)
I once had a safety colleague confide in me that there was only one thing that kept him up at night.
“A workplace fatality?” I asked.
“No” he replied. “The safety committee!”
Though he could not articulate why it prevented him from sleeping, the joint health and safety committee (JHSC) was certainly something he struggled with.
Most of us have grappled at one point or another with a safety committee that was apathetic, lethargic or even hostile.
However, if we could pull our collective lens out a little bit further and see a bigger picture, I believe there are some simple, effective methods to breathe new life into your safety committee.
How do your employees see your safety committee members? Are they perceived as encouragers or enforcers?
Below are a few tips to resuscitate a safety committee that may be on life support:
- Poll your JHSC members. After your next meeting, have your members complete an evaluation form. What worked? What didn’t work? What you would like to see? Each of these are great questions to ask the very people involved. Changes based on their comments can help revive your future meetings.
- Wear green hard hats. At Oxford Frozen Foods, our safety committee members wear green hard hats. We set aside time during our monthly meetings to hold a brainstorming session known as “Green Hat Scenario.” The interaction fosters relationships that help cement unity with the committee and out on the shop floor.
- Committee exchanges. Select another organization near to you (extra points if it’s a competitor) and invite their JHSC committee to one of your meetings. Then attend one of theirs. It’s amazing how many little differences can be picked up on to strengthen the committee. There is also that feeling of pride when showcasing your efforts. Throwing in a facility tour is also highly recommended.
- Spice up inspections. Inspections can also be a challenge for committee members. Why not spice them up by targeting different areas? For example, you could have members inspect your contractors or perhaps examine new equipment. What state are your training records in? Does your committee review any of your OHS policies? Even with the typical physical inspection, do your members go up on the roof? Basement? Offices? Labs?
People feel good and more secure when they know that they have others around them who share their goals and care about their progress.
It may take some work, but strengthening your safety committee is something that will more than pay you back many times.
David Powers is director of health, safety and environment at Oxford Frozen Foods in Nova Scotia.