How to Get Safety Committee Volunteers Who Wants To Be There

Recruiting safety committee volunteers can be difficult because, often, for every reason you come up with to convince them to join, they’ll have a counter reason why they can’t or don’t want to. Then, when you try and solicit help from the management team, you’ll end up with “voluntolds” – employees forced to join the committee, who are now bitter and even less likely to be an active part of the team. The majority of the time, voluntolds hinder the progress and effectiveness of the committee.

So, let’s discuss some common reasons why employees are hesitant to join and some things you can say to convince them otherwise.

They Don’t Want Additional Work

One of the top excuses you’ll hear from fellow employees is that being a safety committee member is additional work, and let’s be honest, where’s the lie? The harsh truth is that many workers today are already overworked, so they worry that if they join, they’re adding a ton of work on top of their already heavy workload.

So, if this is a main fear team members share with you, what can you say to defuse this hesitation? One tip is to break down their participation into easily digestible bits. Ask them to be responsible for a simple task within the committee, like note taking or inspecting a designated area.

Once a team member feels comfortable with level of participation, you may even be able to add a bit more responsibility once they’ve settled in and have a hold on what they’ve been responsible for thus far.

They are Too Busy

People nowadays truly are extremely busy. Not only are they overworked, but they often have a lot of things they need to take care of outside work. So, it’s easy to understand why someone may be hesitant to join something that could potentially add more stress to their already chaotic schedule.

If this is a main barrier for someone, a tip here is to let them know that being a part of the safety committee adds a fresh set of activities that will give them a necessary, and much appreciated break, from their daily routine. This helps prevent burnout. You should also share that the activities will be organized in such a way as to fit their schedules.

They Expect to Be Paid

Because being part of the safety committee is additional work, as we discussed above, employees sometimes expect to be paid for their efforts. While some companies actually do have the ability to compensate their employees for engagement like this, that removes the key aspect of volunteerism which promotes engagement – which is what we want! Instead, they’ll see it as an added responsibility.

So, if this happens to be their line of reasoning, explain to them that volunteers on the safety committee are more likely to get promoted and potentially receive a pay increase when they are seen as employees who care for the company-that volunteers are seen as better and more loyal employees. Make sure to only share this with team members if you know for a fact it is true of your company.

They Believe it Won’t Make a Difference

Hearing this reason is saddening because in some companies, it’s unfortunately true – but not at your company. When employees feel like their effort and time is being wasted, of course they lack the motivation to volunteer. They don’t want to work on things beyond what they’re paid for and they especially don’t want their extra exertions to be all for not.

If this is their line of reasoning, share that your intention as a safety manager is to create real change by developing a great safety culture and their joining the committee will help in making this change a reality.

Once they join, follow through on this promise. You need to listen and apply their suggestions to make them feel like a valued part of the team. This will promote the sense that they’re being heard and give them the motivation to do more for the committee.

Take Action

In summary, there are many reasons why employees may not be eager to join the safety committee. But if you take the time to understand their reasonings and give them convincing counterarguments about why it’s actually beneficial to join, you’ll find yourself with a lot of volunteers!

Getting Safety Committee Volunteers Who Want To Be There

Safety Brye: [00:00:00] Do your safety committee meetings look like the Safety Manager show. You know what I'm talking about? You're up there, you're talking. Everybody's just bobbing their head. Yes, but it's mostly silent. You're doing all the talking and when you ask for approvals or what people think, everyone's like, yep, sounds good.

Sounds good. Like they don't even wanna be there. So let's change that. Today we are going to talk about getting volunteers for your safety committee. Let's get to it.

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

[00:01:00] 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. 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, my safety friends. How are you doing today? Today we are continuing our conversation of engagement and I wanna start off with a vision for your safety committee. So if you can close your eyes. If you're driving, obviously don't, but hey, pull over. Why not? I know a lot of people listen to me on their commute.

I really want you to envision what your safety committee could look like. So I want you to imagine yourself walking into a safety committee meeting. You are

[00:02:00] dressed your best, right? You look like an executive. You've got your notebooks in your hands, probably some papers, maybe some reports. You got a little pointer ready.

Maybe even a thumb drive with some digital reports in it. And when you walk in, the room is already full. People are chatting away, the PowerPoint presentation is already up, and you sit to the side of the table, you say hi to everybody who's around you, and you are surrounded by employees from all the different areas of your company.

There's some from the warehouse, some from customer service, some from the manufacturing area. There's even a driver or two in there, maybe even a lineman. I don't know what your employees do, and you sit to the side, not at the head of the table, you're just a member of this committee. You are not in charge

[00:03:00] because the person talking is a senior employee who brings the meeting to order. He hands out the agenda that he is set up working with a team member from customer service and they know what they wanna talk about and they review the previous minutes of the safety committee. They follow up with the people that were supposed to have action items completed by this meeting, and then they review any new agenda items and no, they do not go to you first.

And then they ask you for a state of the safety department. So you do your presentation to this committee, and then you sit back down and at the end of the meeting it, it ends with everybody having action items to do before the next meeting. You are given a list from the chairperson of the committee, and you will work with them to get it completed.

[00:04:00] And then the meeting ends with a review of when the next one is given by the secretary, cuz she plans it all out. Right. And states that the minutes will be written up, they'll be sent to you to sign, but they will post them. And a reminder to everybody in the meeting that they are champions of safety and that they are to remember what issues are brought to them and make sure that they bring them to the next safety committee meeting.

How would it make you feel? If this was your safety committee, wouldn't that be amazing? When you're chatting with your safety friends and they're complaining about their safety committee meetings, just being just a bore and a hassle and just a way to put more work on your plate, and then you get to describe a safety meeting like that where you're just a member and it's actually employee led and employee driven. Would be incredible.

[00:05:00] Now, wake up my friends, and I want you to think about what your committee looks like today if you have one, and I bet one of the things that needs to change in your committee is that people actually wanna be there, like in that vision, right? They enjoyed being there. They enjoyed participating, they enjoyed doing their action items, but in your committee, You struggle just to get people to show up or you struggle to get your management team to actually allow the people to attend your committee meeting and you're getting more voluntolds than you are volunteers.

Oh, warehouse Joe can't go, but I'll send you Steve. Well, they're not a trained committee member. Did Joe fit his task from last time? No. We need, actually, we need the person that's on the committee to show up. So, there's a lot packed into making a good safety committee, and I can definitely cannot go over it in a

[00:06:00] podcast. But let's just start with the one key aspect, which is making sure that people want to be there, that people actually are doing and are engaged, are participating in the safety committee because employee engagement, it can be measured by the number of people who volunteer. To do extra work to help the company reach its goal.

And this doesn't mean just safety. It could be in any area if an employee is doing extra work to help the company reach its goal. And you have a lot of people doing that. You have an engaged workforce. So think about why people don't volunteer, and then that is gonna be your starting point. Because when you can address the issues as to why people don't volunteer, you can actually start getting them to volunteer. So if you're struggling to get volunteers to your safety committee, it's time to go out and

[00:07:00] start talking to your people and finding out why they are not volunteering for safety committee. Why is it that you don't wanna participate in the safety committee and don't be accusatory. Be curious. Ask those questions with a curious mindset and create a list of reasons, because that list of reasons, what you're going to do is start objection busting is what I like to call it.

Cuz all they are is objections. You want to get them to sign up for safety committee and they're saying, no, no, no. So we wanna bust that objection and create a committee. That bust those objections or a promotion that bust those objections. So what you're gonna do is use their concerns against them, basically as to why they should volunteer, and you wanna craft your committee around what would work for them.

So these conversations will help give you insight into how you can make your committee work with the current

[00:08:00] workforce that you have. So here's some common reasons that I have heard why people do not volunteer for safety committee, and honestly, some of these are why I wouldn't volunteer for extra work around my place as well.

One is they don't wanna do extra work. They look at they are paid to do a job. That job is hard enough. I'm not gonna do any extra work on top of that, right? I am too overworked as it. So in order to bust that objection, what you wanna do is keep the responsibilities to a minimum. It could be, Hey, I just need you to show up to a meeting.

When somebody brings you a complaint, you make a note of it, you just put it in your cell phone, and once a month, I need you to spend 15 minutes doing an inspection in a one area of the business. So keep it very, very minimal. It's like sometimes they think that there's gonna be a lot of work involve. And your committee could end up being a lot of work. But if you're having

[00:09:00] trouble getting volunteers, you wanna start off with keeping all the responsibilities of the committee members to a minimum. You may wanna grow it into our vision where they actually have projects and they actually go out and do things, and they are that extension of the safety department.

But for right now, keep it to a bare minimum. Show up collect issues and once a month do a 15 minute activity. Right? So that's how you would bust that first one. The second one I hear a lot, and this is my excuse, they're too busy. I am way too busy to take my time to volunteer for some committee or to join some group or to do something right.

And that may be true. You know, most people nowadays are overworked. However, it is also true that if they do not take the time to do things different, to shake things up, to relax, it actually creates burnout. So one way that

[00:10:00] you can bust this objection is fitted into their schedule. This is why I've always done my safety committee meetings over a meal break, and I would say, Hey, you're gonna get, you know, paid for your meal break and I'm gonna provide food for you.

I've always bribed my committees with food. But try to get it to fit into their schedule. You can also shorten your meetings and maybe do more of them. So instead of a one hour meeting every month, you do a 20 minute meeting every week, right? Something like that. Try to get it to fit into their schedule. And then you can also talk about the burnout thing, cuz that is 100% true.

Number three, the one that I hear a lot is they expect to be paid extra. You gonna pay me to be on that committee? I hear that all the time, and no, I do not think that you should pay your committee members. I think that it sets an expectation that is then a job instead of a volunteer to make the company better. It kind of

[00:11:00] crushes engagement. Instead, it makes it a responsibility of like a job, right? So I do not believe that you should pay your committee members, although I do know people that have, and honestly, it's never worked. But how you can bust this objection, and this is 100% true of anybody who has had safety committees, is that typically when promotions come about, performance reviews raises.

People that have participated in safety committee are seen as better employees, more engaged employees, more loyal to the company than others. They are what I like to call our leaders of tomorrow. I have lost so many committee members to promotions because that is where they end up pulling their new supervisors from, their new team leaders from, or those people then become empowered

[00:12:00] enough that they go find higher paying jobs elsewhere. So there are many, many benefits of participating in the Safety Committee to themselves, not just to the company. So you have to be selling that as a reason. And the other reason that I hear a lot is it doesn't matter or it won't make a difference anyway. This company doesn't care. Right. So the problem with that one is that that might be the case right now.

And you can say, look, I wanna change things. That's why I'm making this committee. And the way that you change that is to make sure that you act on their suggestions. And this last one, this acting on their suggestions is truly the key to getting volunteers. Research has shown that people are motivated by pride, purpose, and autonomy. They're not motivated by money. That's why paying them extra doesn't work or even the

[00:13:00] free lunches don't necessarily work to get you an engaged safety committee. They need to have pride, purpose, and autonomy, and they will only be motivated to participate if doing so fills those things, right? So listening to them, getting them in your safety committee, listening to them, acting on their suggestions, empowering them to act on their own.

And giving them a strong why for the committee for what they're doing is extremely important to strengthen your volunteers and even to turn your voluntolds into volunteers. Once they see that they are being listened to and that you are doing what they are suggesting, they are more likely to want to be there. They're more likely to want to bring more ideas to it. This is the problem that I see in most committees is that

[00:14:00] they're led by safety professionals who are extremely experienced, know what they're doing, have tons of ideas themselves, and then an employee brings an idea which is mediocre at best, stupid at worst.

And the safety manager or the safety leader pushes it off and says, that'll never work. And they don't even try it. So if you're not going to listen to them, and if you're not going to act on their suggestions, regardless of how stupid they are, then they're gonna stop bringing it to you. And how will they learn that,

that idea will never work unless you try it and show them that that idea won't work. So you've got to listen to their suggestions. Now, changing your volunteer culture is not going to happen overnight. And it may cost you a lot of time and energy of doing things that you yourself know are not gonna work. But you have to prove to your committee it doesn't to get the better

[00:15:00] ideas coming. Okay? So you may be starting with voluntolds but the more that you're listening and acting and empowering them, the easier it is going to get. And I will tell you when you do this consistently and at the same time you have a committee that is telling everybody else what you're doing in there and you are sharing the results of the committee.

You're saying, Hey, committee member, you know, Carlos said this and this is what we did. You know, and you're sharing that you are listening to them. Soon you will have a wait list to join your committee. It does happen. And committee members should turn over. That's a whole another conversation. But I know some people, they get their committee and they're, they're like, man, I've got this amazing committee.

I don't want anybody to leave. Let them leave every six months. You should have a turnover plan. So way you're constantly bringing in new employees into your committee and

[00:16:00] engaging even more people in your workforce. But like I said, that's a whole another conversation. I hope that this gives you a better outlook for your safety committee.

And for your volunteers, I know it can be frustrating, but instead of blaming the employee and saying like, no, I have a workforce that just does not participate. Look at how you can change their perspective. Look how you can actually work with them to get them to participate, and before you know it, you'll be closer and closer to that vision that we started this episode with.

That is all that I have for you today, my friends. I hope that you enjoyed it. I hope you got a lot out of. And we will chat again soon. Bye for now.

Hey, if you're just getting started in safety or you've been at this for a while and are hitting a roadblock, then I

[00:17:00] 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 to learn more and to get started. That's and I will see you in our next Students only live session.

Bye for now.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • What Are The Reasons Employees Don’t Want To Join Safety Committee
  • How To Convince Motivate To Be Part Of The Safety Committee
  • Productive Safety Committee Contributes A Lot On The Workplace Culture
  • Joining Safety Committee Can Help Employees Advance Their Careers

Links Mentioned:


I hope this gives you a better outlook for your safety committee and your volunteers.

I know it can get frustrating. So instead of blaming your employees, look at how you can change their perspective. Before you know it, you will be closer to that vision we started this episode with.

Subscribe on your favorite Podcast App

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.

Get started with my weekly newsletters: