How to Break the Ice and Start a Safety Committee
Minimizing Construction Risks through Safety
Many construction companies have probably thought about starting a safety committee at one time or another. But how many actually executed and have an established safety committee with a regular meeting schedule and clear objectives? I imagine not enough. The two comments I hear most often are: “That really wouldn’t work for our company” and “I really don’t know where to start.” For today, let’s address the latter.
A good place to start would be to select one or more employees from each department or division (depending on its size) that have demonstrated strong communication and work safety skills to participate. Then, set the first meeting date. I’ve found that for the first meeting, having a fun ice breaker really sets the tone in terms of what you’d like to achieve, and that you can have fun in the process.
An ice breaker I particularly like is asking the committee to break into small groups and spend two or three minutes coming up with a list of everything that can be fixed using duct tape. You’ll get plenty of great suggestions. Compile everyone’s list as a group into one master. Around the time everyone starts looking confused as to what the point of that was, ask them to repeat the exercise, and instead take ten minutes to come up with a list of everything someone in their department could do with a ten pound lifting restriction. Not only will you come up with some great ideas for creating or expanding your Return to Work and modified duty programs, but your employees will feel great about contributing to the company in such a fun and unusual way.
Once the ice is broken and the tone is set, outline an agenda of things you’d like to cover regularly at each meeting. I strongly suggest the following:
- Track and discuss each near miss, including how to prevent similar incidents in the future
- Track and discuss each claim, including how to prevent similar incidents in the future
- Track all employees currently away from work due to injury or on modified duty due to injury, and discuss the timetable and action plan for getting him or her back to full duty
- Track OSHA and job-specific trainings employees will require for upcoming jobs or general development
- Discuss safety incentive programs
- Provide an open forum for employee feedback
There are many other items you can add to your monthly agenda. I encourage you to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your meetings and add or change these items as necessary. I also encourage you to decide as a group how often the committee meets. For a company with a buttoned up safety culture, quarterly is often sufficient. For those still getting their feet wet, monthly or every other month might make more sense, at least initially.
- Feature in Risk Management Magazine: Top 10 Benefits of Return to Work Programs
- Blog Post: Six Ways to Promote Safety without a Director
- Register for “How to Create a Safety Culture” Webinar (March 26)
- Register for “Intro to Accident Investigation” Webinar (April 23)
- Register for “OSHA 10-Hour Construction Training” (April 28)
- Register for “OSHA 10-Hour Construction Training” (October 13)
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