Successful Safety Committee Ideas in Building Strong Safety Culture
Successful safety committees are beneficial in ensuring employee participation in safety and driving a safe culture in the workplace. However, when improperly done, it adds more burden to your already heavy workload.
Maybe, you are dreading safety committees just like I was before. So, here are 3 safety committee ideas that I’ve used to build a safety committee successfully. Let’s dive into it.
Have a Vision of the Ideal End Goal
Before building the safety committee structure, you need to have a vision of the end goal you want to achieve. Having a picture of the ideal end goal will ensure that the committee you’re making adds value to the company and drives and improves the safety culture in the workplace.
To have a good vision for the committee, then you need to consider these questions to make it successful:
- Why do you want to have a safety committee?
- What is the goal of the safety committee?
- What support systems do I need to put in place?
And when you do, you’ll arrive at the ideal end vision for the safety committee, which is: “A safety committee should show as a group of employees who represent the whole of the company working together to improve the safety and operations of the organization.”
Build the Right Motivation for Volunteers
Usually, when building the structure for the committee, the members are mainly composed of voluntold employees. And this results in an ineffective committee because they lack motivation.
You might think that to build motivation, and there must be monetary compensation. But, counter-intuitively, doing so will still result in an ineffective committee because people are not motivated by money.
So, to properly motivate your employees to volunteer, you need to establish the committee’s purpose and authority. And the first step to establishing these things is creating a safety committee charter because it clearly states the committee’s responsibilities and authority.
Another thing that can drive motivation for people is ensuring that the committee is employee-driven. And the first step to making sure that its employee-driven is that the structure should all consist of employees. This means that the chairperson, co-chairperson, and other roles should all be employees. Ideally, the safety manager should not be part of the committee. It should only act as a consultant to the committee.
Start Small and Keep Working
At the start of building a safety committee, it will be hard to get volunteers, and creating a robust committee doesn’t happen overnight. That is why starting small baby steps is necessary.
And the first baby step in creating a safety committee is choosing a chairperson. You likely have a few employees in mind that are great for that position. Talk to them and interview them to know who is the best fit.
After selecting the chairperson, make them understand their responsibilities, which means that the chairperson is the one to lead the committee, run the meetings, choose the members, and so on. Once the chairperson has selected a co-chairperson, train them to do their responsibilities.
Once the committee has started, keep working on getting volunteers and showing the employees that their “voices” do matter. Meaning, that the ideas of the safety committee must be consistently implemented to show that it’s worth participating because it will be listened to that it will be done. And to show this to everyone in the company, put it on your bulletin boards, newsletters, and town hall meetings.
These are the tips that I’ve implemented and found to be effective in building a successful safety committee. Try it out, and little by little, you’ll see that a robust safety committee is forming in your company.
Build a Strong Safety Culture With These Safety Committee Ideas
Safety Brye: [00:00:00] Let's talk safety committees. These can be great for employee participation, but you want it to be more than just an employee meeting when done right, your safety committee can be an extension of your department and can drive the culture of your company, but how do you do it? Right. Well, my safety friend, I have some tips for you.
Hey, there, safety friends. Welcome to the safety geek podcast. I'm Brye Sargent CSP and 20 year safety professional. After spending years training safety leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the ground up, over and over again, I am now sharing my processes and strategies with you. At the safety geek,
you will learn how to manage an effective safety program that increases your management support and employee engagement all the while helping you elevate your position and move up in your career.
[00:01:00] If you're ready to step into the role of a safety, influencer and leader, you're in the right place. Let's get to it.
Hello? Hello. Hello. Today I am answering a question from a listener Randall Mowery. This is actually part two of his question for part one, we discussed safety committee charters back in March, and I will definitely put a link to that in the show notes. If you wanna get started with that, that is actually your first step in developing a safety committee.
Now, if you have a topic that you want me to discuss, just like Randall, be sure that you email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to our list. I am always looking for new ideas. So Randall's question was about the structure of the committee and ideas to make it successful. So, what I wanna share with you before we get started is I have a free safety committee checklist that
[00:02:00] can go with this episode. It actually goes very well with it. So if you go to the show notes at thesafetygeek.com/70 you will see a link where you can get that download absolutely free. And it basically runs you through all the little pieces of a safety committee. So go ahead and pause this episode and download that checklist. So that way you can have it as a reference.
Although some of the stuff I'm gonna be talking about might not necessarily be on that checklist. Okay. So let's talk structure. However, before we can talk about structure, you have to first have a vision for your end goal of your safety committee. So I want you to ask yourself, why do you want to have a safety committee and what is the goal
of that safety committee? A lot of people put this committee in place just because they believe that they have to, but you should really have a goal for what you want this end vision of this safety committee to look
[00:03:00] like. And you do also wanna start with a support system in place that would be your charter, your approval and your authority.
So that's what I talk about in that other episode. So make sure that you check it out. If you are trying to start a safety committee without having that support system in place, it is not going to be that successful. So what I want you to think of is what is the end goal? A lot of people think that you need to have a safety committee to get employee participation, because they've heard that that's what you need to do.
So they ask for volunteers or they get a group that was voluntold, been there, done that. And they set up a meeting and they get everybody into a room and they go, we are the safety committee and it is our goal to, you know, discuss things that you've seen so we can make improvements as a company. But what this ends up turning into is the safety manager show.
That's what I like to call it. It's where the safety manager is
[00:04:00] basically leading the meeting. They may start out by sharing trends or asking for ideas. I've also seen it, where you go around the table and everybody gives an idea. Maybe you do some training. Maybe you walk around as a group and you do an inspection.
And in the end of this meeting, what are you left with? You as the safety manager are left with a list of things to do, because yet even if you have this voluntold group of people, you can pull teeth and you can get ideas out of them that you can take action on. But it ends up leaving you in charge, basically of making sure that all of their ideas get completed.
And what this ends up leading into for you is not wanting to have the meaning. Now I've done this before. I've been there and I have done this exact thing before, and every time it was time to have another meeting, I would dread going, cuz I'm like my to-do list is so long as it is. I do not need
[00:05:00] these employees putting anything else on my list. Right. Or maybe you're dreading the meeting because you are so tired of sitting in a room of blank faces where you have to pull even a couple of words from them, or you have this huge complainer in the room who is always talking smack, but never offering a solution. This is not an effective safety committee.
And this is why I say you need to start with a vision of what you want the safety committee to actually be. And that vision of what you want your ideal safety committee to look like is one where it actually adds value to the safety program. One where it fosters participation and that employees are begging to be on the committee. It's one where it actually drives the
[00:06:00] culture of the company. And that it's part of the normal communication cadence, not just for your department, but for all the departments. That's when you start using this committee to become a partner between the employees and the management team. Now a safety committee, as you are putting it together, should always be seen as a group of employees who represent the whole of the company, working together to improve the safety and operations of the organization.
Let me repeat that a safety committee should be seen as a group of employees who represent the whole of the company, working together to improve the safety and operations of the organization. If that is your end vision, and you actually
[00:07:00] share that, that is the vision you're trying to create. You are going to get support for this committee.
getting support and it's already is not gonna be a problem because it's not just a safety committee. It's an employee committee that is working towards achieving all of the company goals. Now in order to get your committee from voluntold to this vision, to achieve that your structure actually needs to motivate them to meet this goal.
Now, what I want you to understand is that when I say motivating employees, a lot of times people always think of incentives or they think of cash and all of that good stuff. The truth of the matter is that motivation does not come from money. You might be disagreeing with me and me in your mind, you might be like, no Brye, you pay me
well, I will do anything. There has been tons and tons of research on this and money does not motivate humans. What
[00:08:00] motivates us is pride, purpose and autonomy. So do not incentivize your committee. I have seen people go like, well, we'll pay you 50 cents more an hour, or we give you a $50 a month bonus. You do not wanna incentivize your committee.
Now I will tell you, I did bribe my committee for quite a while. And I just think that that's a nice little benefit. Well, I bribe them with food, so I would always plan my safety committee meetings over lunch. And I did this for two reasons. One was, they already had to take a lunch break. So it was not interfering with the operations of the organization because they were gonna be on lunch break.
Anyway, it was a paid lunch break since they were actually working. And then I provided lunch and then every month they got to pick whatever I was gonna provide the next month. I basically let them pick the meals. That was my job for safety committee was to feed them . So every month I would be providing the meals. So that is one way that I incentivize my
[00:09:00] committee that I do not think hurts anything. It's a nice little compromise between operations and safety, because sometimes these meetings can go on for an hour and it's really hard for them to lose an employee for an hour. So when you get committee members, it's an understood that, Hey, one time a month, you're gonna be going through your lunch break.
It'll be a paid lunch in that case, but yeah, you're gonna be working through your lunch break, but I'll provide you food while you're doing it. And it was just a nice little compromise, but I would never incentivize my committee with a monetary incentive just because now I do give them shirts and hats.
And I do actually make sure that my committee members are the very first people I consider. Anytime I'm bringing employees to conferences or anytime I'm doing any specialized training, you know, any of that fun stuff, you know, you know, the fun stuff, right? Like you're doing fire extinguisher training and you're actually putting out a fire.
Everybody wants to be doing that safety committee members get to go first. Or you're going
[00:10:00] to the national safety council conference and you're allowed to take three people with you. Yes. Safety committee members get first tips on that. so that is how I would incentivize my committee. I would never do it monetarily.
Okay, so back to motivation, how do you actually build motivation? The very first step in creating an environment to motivate employees is to have that charter because that actually gives them purpose and authority. So when you have that proper charter that we talked about in the other episode, when you're actually starting your committee and they're reading that charter and they're signing that charter, they realize that this is a responsibility, right.
And it's something that they've now been given authority. Okay. Now the next step is allowing it to be employee driven. So you wanna make sure that your safety committee has the structure of any other committee. So think of the committees that you see outside of work, there are usually officers within that committee. So for
[00:11:00] example, I am the member of a booster's organization at the local high school. We have a president, we have a vice president. We have a treasurer, we have a secretary, we take minutes, we post the minutes to all the other parents. We have structure. That is the structure that you wanna have for your safety committee.
Now you're not gonna need a treasurer and I wouldn't call it a president, but I would call it a chairperson. So you wanna have a chairperson and a co-chair and a secretary to take the minutes. Now you don't need a treasurer. And if you wanna come up with other titles, other than these, that works as well.
Okay. But you wanna have that straight structure. And what I like to tell people is that this is not a safety committee. I know I've been referring to it as safety committee all along, because that is the terminology that I believe you are used to. But I do not like to put the word safety in front of everything, because the moment you do that, you are making safety, a separate thing. Then the
[00:12:00] organization safety is integrated into everything the business does. So why are we calling it a safety committee? It's actually an employee committee. And when you take the word safety out of it, it helps develop pride for the entire organization. So think about it. If you are a member, let's say that you're an employee and you're a member of the safety committee and they're like, oh great.
You have say so over safety, but you don't have say so over, you know, efficiency or quality or how we actually do our job or making sure that we have good snacks in the vending machine or that the water cooler is working or, you know, all those other little things. Oh, it's not a safety issue. So you can't bring to safety committee.
So when you make it just an employee committee and that their goal is to improve all aspects of the company, not just safety, it actually starts to develop pride for the entire organization, which then leads to loyalty, which then reduces turnover.
[00:13:00] Now you are not gonna lead this committee. You are not leading it.
You are not even an officer. The safety manager should not be the chairperson. They should not be the co-chair. They should not be the secretary. Ideally, you are not even a member of this committee. You are consulted after the meetings and you're invited in when they feel that you're needed. So ideally what I like to see is that when they wanna see trending information, they call the safety manager in and they share the trending information.
And if the safety managers can't make the meeting that time, the chairperson follows up with the safety manager afterwards and says, this is what we went over. This is the things we need approval on. This is what we need help with. Because you are technically the committee sponsor and because you are the sponsor, so here, I'm telling you that you don't wanna have a safety committee.
You wanna have an employee committee, you might be thinking, well, they'll spend all their time doing things that are not safety related. And it never turns
[00:14:00] out that way. My friend. What I will tell you the way it turns out is probably 50 50, because people want a safe workplace and a lot of the efficiencies and the things that make the job go easier for employees end up being the safer way anyway.
And because they're reporting to you and your job is safe, there will always be some aspects of safety to. But you're allowing other improvements to seep in. And when you do that, when you have this employee committee that maybe make suggestions for productivity or efficiency or quality, it makes your entire management team appreciate this employee committee.
And that's how you start building that culture in your workplace where employee participation is expected and a given and not forced. Okay. But how do you get there? Like I could see, like, you're probably looking at your committee or maybe you don't even have a committee and you're like, I can't
[00:15:00] get my employees to do this kind of stuff. So how do you get there? So it has to be in baby steps. You can't do this overnight. And in fact, a strong committee, like this probably takes a year or more, even up to three years to really get going strong, but you just have to not give up on it. So the very first step in doing this is selecting your chairperson for the committee.
Now there's many different ways that you can select a chairperson. Likely you already have somebody in mind who will lead the committee. A friend of mine, he would post an application like a safety committee application, and he would interview people for his safety committee. I always love that idea because it makes it sound elite.
Right. And when you're only looking for one person, then it kind of makes people compete for that position. So maybe you have one person in mind. Maybe you have five people in mind and then you just ask all of them and then you interview them and you select the best
[00:16:00] choice. But the idea is to get your chairperson first and foremost, before you even build your committee.
And with this chairperson, you are going to share your vision. You're gonna make sure that they understand what their responsibility is, which is to lead the meeting, that they are 100% in charge of the meeting. They have full autonomy. They have the authority and then that will brought pride and purpose.
Okay. So make sure that they understand those responsibilities and then have them choose their own co-chair you don't choose it. The chairperson and the co-chair work so closely together, you wanna make sure that they're gonna be in sync. So let your chairperson choose the co-chair. And the job of the co-chair is to fill in when the chairperson is not there.
So that way the meeting always happens. The work always gets done. Even if the chairperson is out sick, right. Or hit by a bus. We're on
[00:17:00] vacation or all that good stuff. Right? So once you have your chairperson, you're, co-chair your next step is to make sure that you train them, how to run a committee and what the expectations are.
You make sure that they have a set schedule, that they know how to schedule the meeting room, that they know how to share the schedule with other people that they understand that they have to create an agenda. And ahead of time, they need to know what they're talking. That it's an expectation for them to develop safety improvement projects, or company improvement projects that you want them assigning tasks to committee members and following up on those tasks to make sure that they're completed and that they are reporting to management to get approvals.
You might even have them come to your executive advisory committee and report to them. And that is something I teach you to do inside of safety management academy. . So once you have these two positions in place and they are well trained, you are ready to actually start your committee and have those two work to get
[00:18:00] volunteers for your committee. Instead of you doing the work to get those volunteers, you want your chairperson and your co-chair to be responsible to get volunteers. Now you might be thinking nobody's gonna want to do this, Brye, this just sounds like way too much work. They just wanna do their job and go home. And first off. Let's talk about time commitment.
We're talking about one meeting a month, which is about an hour and then probably about 15 to 30 minutes a week doing follow ups and any assigned tasks or anything like that. Even if they did two meetings a month, it really isn't that much of a time commitment, especially if you did what I did, which is put it over a lunch period.
So that way it wasn't cutting into the normal work hours too much. Now it may be true that your employees will just look at you. Like you're crazy and that they do not wanna do this, but that signals that a culture change needs to happen in your workplace. So instead of
[00:19:00] trying to get a full committee together, just try to get your chairperson, you know, between you, the chair and the co-chair, you can get this thing started.
And then when you have a committee of employees that are actually working together to meet the company goals, what will happen is you will start to see a shift that there's pride in the organization. And that employee voices matter. And when they see that they're actually getting listened to, and that things are happening based on their recommendations, more and more people are going to want to join.
So it comes down to consistent implementation of committee ideas to make people want to join the committee. What happens too often is people give their ideas and then people shoot them down. I have had some really dumb ideas come outta my safety committee. I've also had ideas come outta my safety committee that I tried and I know didn't work. So why would I try it again? well, the reason I try everything, my
[00:20:00] committee gives me because it's that consistent implementation of their ideas that grows the committee and sparks other ideas, you know, putting a cone out to stop a forklift from entering an area I knew was not gonna work, but I did it anyway.
What did it cost me a $50 cone if that right. And they saw it didn't work and it got them to think of another idea which possibly would work. Right? So as you're starting out, I want you to only be using volunteers. If you have to voluntold people and force them to come to your committee, they don't belong there.
So that may mean that your committee starts off very, very small. It doesn't start off as an equal representation of your workforce. It might just be you the chairperson and the co-chair, but you keep working to get volunteers, you, your chairperson and
[00:21:00] co-chair are tasked with getting volunteers. Your management team is encouraging to get people to participate.
And the ultimate goal is to have an equal representation of all departments. Don't forget your office staff as well. They bring a lot of insight and skills to a committee. But you wanna have equal representation and then just work on one improvement idea after the next, but here's the kicker to help you get more volunteers, you need to share the results with everyone.
Every single idea a committee comes up with that you have implemented gets blasted out and shared with everybody. This is what the committee came up with. This is what we did. This is what the results were. Do you wanna do something different? Join the committee, contact this chairperson, right? So you wanna put on your bulletin board, your newsletters, if you do like any sort of like town hall or general meeting or standup meeting, I don't know
[00:22:00] what you would call it in your organization, where everybody gets together and they just kind of share what's going on in the business.
Then you wanna do it there as well and share the results of the committee. And when your committee is more robust, because people are seeing that you're doing this and they're wanting to join the committee, you can start building in more structure and more expectations. You can actually start using your committee as an extension of your department.
You can train them on hazard recognition and accident investigation. So that way you can give them monthly assignments to do inspections, assessments, observations. If you don't know what those three things are, that is something that I teach you inside of safety management academy. You can also have that expectation that they do a quarterly improvement project and that they run it a hundred percent themselves. You can give them accidents or near misses to investigate, to see if they come
[00:23:00] up with different root causes or contributing causes that you might have missed. You can have them do policy and program reviews. We should be reviewing and updating these on a regular basis. Anyway, use your committee to get some employee participation in that.
Your committee should always be part of management of change. So anytime there is a change in process or procedure or equipment, you get your committee involved in it to see if they see something that might be missed before the process is put in place. And I love having my committee report my executive advisory committee, which is something that I teach you to create in safety management academy to build your management support and commitment for safety.
Now as your committee gets bigger and bigger and stronger, you might be looking at it. And also, depending upon the size of your organization or the layout of your building structure, you may choose to break it up
[00:24:00] into multiple committees. So this one organization that I went to, they had seven different buildings.
So every building had their own committee. This one place that I worked, we actually had different departments and I would have a committee for every department. Now, if you break your committee up into multiple committees, Then you get to have a committee of committees. I love that term. It reminds me of scrum of scrums if you know, project management, but it's a committee of committees.
So like the chairperson of every committee is on the committee of committees or the main committee. I don't know what you wanna call it. So that way they can just check in with everybody. I actually used to call that my hazard, what did I call it? I called it like my hazard assessment committee or my hazard identification committee or something.
And then all the department committees reported into it. Now, another thing I want you to think
[00:25:00] of is instead of a long term committee, you can also have a short term committee. So let's say that you have a regular committee going, but now there's a problem, right? You have identified a problem, a trend that isn't good, but your committee's busy.
They already have projects going. They have assessments to do. They have got policies to review, and you're like that committee has no time to solve this problem. You can create a short- committee to just solve that problem. Think of like a Kaizen where if you do lean manufacturing, they do these kaizens to come in and actually improve efficiency.
You can do that same thing just to solve a problem. Another committee that I like to have is an annual evaluation committee. So if you do, this is something else I talk about in safety management academy is doing an annual self-evaluation. And generally what comes out of that is a big bullet list of things that need to be done.
So if you have a committee that is in charge of it, they actually do the evaluation and then they spend the rest of the year closing all of
[00:26:00] those tasks that came out of the evaluation. And that could be separate from your normal committee. So I do like to have that in a lot of places. And I actually picked up that idea at a conference one time.
So anyway, hopefully this has sparked some ideas and you can see that safety committees are an amazing tool when they are done effectively, when it is truly employees and managers working together to improve the workplace and reach the company's goals. And it all starts with motivating, just a few employees.
Giving them a little bit of authority and autonomy to take action on their ideas and then it grows from there. So you do have to have a little bit of patience, and that is what I have for you this week. Now don't forget to download that safety committee checklist. It details 16 different elements that you wanna have in your safety committee.
And you can get that by going to the show notes. So we'll be a link in there and I will chat with you again soon. Bye for now.
[00:27:00] Hey, if you're just getting started in safety or you've been. For a while and are hitting a roadblock. Then I wanna invite you to check out safety management academy. This is my in depth online course that not only teaches you the processes and strategies of an effective safety management program, but how to entwine management support and employee participation throughout your processes.
Are you ready to finally understand exactly what you should be doing and ditch that safety police hat forever? Then you have got to join me and your fellow safety scholars over at safety management academy. Just go to the safety geek.com/sma to learn more and to get started. That's the safety geek.com/sma.
And I will see you in our next students only live session. Buy for now.[00:28:00]
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Highlights From This Episode:
- Excellent Safety Committee Ideas
- How Important is Safety Committee
- Improve Workplace Safety Culture
- Employee Involvement in Safety Committees
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Safety Committees are a fantastic tool when you create them effectively. And remember that employees and managers must work together to improve the workplace and reach the company’s goals.
And it all starts with motivating just a few employees and giving them autonomy to take action on their ideas.
That’s what I have for you. Don’t forget to down the safety committee checklist that details 16 different elements you want to have in your safety committee.
And I love to hear your thoughts about this episode, so please comment them below.
Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world. I would love to help you too.