Use Safety Committees to Help Reduce Losses and Costs
Safety committees can play an effective role in any organizational risk management effort. Organizations often span across multiple departments and/or buildings, creating variables that can sometimes change significantly and frequently. As a result, programs often need to be scalable so they can readily address organizational needs. An effective safety committee can assist with this by:
- Providing educational assistance;
- Facilitating collaboration; and
- Allowing input from each organizational department/area.
Leadership and management within organizations must provide the vision and resources necessary for implementing committees that can make organization-wide safety decisions.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration recommends that organizations follow this actionable approach:
- Communicate your commitment to the safety program
Establish a written policy outlining management’s commitment to safety and developing a safety program. Provide the policy to all relevant stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, vendors, customers, etc.
- Define program goals
Realistic goals that management can commit to must be created. The goals should focus on specific actions to improve safety within the workplace and timeframes should be set for when these goals should be met.
- Allocate adequate resources
Without adequate resources, safety programs will not fulfill their maximum potential. Management should estimate the appropriate resources needed in both monetary and staffing requirements. Management should allow the committee to pursue necessary tasks to reach program goals.
- Expect performance
Throughout the process of addressing management commitment and forming a safety committee, performance standards must be put into place to evaluate the success of the program. Metrics used to evaluate performance can include reductions in claims (made both in dollar amount and frequency of claims), objective surveys by employees about improvements they are realizing and improvement of local and state government compliance (if applicable).
Deciding how your safety committee is organized is a critical consideration in the process. Factors to consider regarding the organization of safety committees include, but are not limited to:
- Overall size of the organization;
- Scope of operations and influence;
- Staffing availability and who will be members; and
- Complexity of organization / Knowledge needed to be successful.
The complexity of your operations will likely determine the level of oversight needed from your safety committee. This is because more complex operations can often increase the likelihood of a loss or injury since they will contain more variables to address. As this process takes place, the need for greater safety training will involve more members of the committee. It is important to recognize that each division should have training specific to its activities. The safety committee should be able to shift accordingly to provide the level of support needed from your operations.
The safety committee is responsible for making sure that training materials are available to employees. Management should decide if the safety committees are responsible for delivering training offerings to employees or if they should be carried out by an internal department. Below are some examples of responsibilities:
- Participate in the creation of safety programs and evaluate the effectiveness of such programs.
- Complete facility risk assessments with safety personnel, such as safety managers. These should be completed periodically to ensure safety practices are being followed and program deficiencies are being identified.
- Review safety protocols and make recommendations for changes.
- Assess work operations and processes and provide opinions on proposed changes.
- Formulate workspace evaluations for employees who work in offices and at home. This may include providing workstations to at-home employees, offering ergonomic chairs and verifying acceptable parameters.
- Analyze employee injury and other loss data. Recommend or suggest actions that may reduce or eliminate losses.
- Compile and recommend distribution of safety information and other suggestions to employees.
- Implement and comply with safety inspections.
- Consult with safety professionals who can provide industry standards and equipment safety information.
Safety committees should meet frequently. This can be delegated by management or as meetings are deemed necessary. The items discussed at these meetings should be documented as well as items of action required for members before the next meeting.
Loss Control Resources
Great American Insurance Group offers additional safety materials, such as the Safety Inspection Checklist, which provides a 17-part checklist with over 100 individual safety checks that can be done within your organization. This checklist serves as a guide to select safety procedures that are being followed as well as if they are unsatisfactory. Great American also offers a 12-page Operational Change Management Checklist. This checklist can be divided into three parts: :
- Risk Assessment
- Prioritize Risks through a Risk Assessment Matrix
- Hierarchy of Controls - Assigning and Controlling Risks
Loss Control also provides policyholders with access to Streamery, Great American’s safety video library. Streamery includes over 800 training programs with over 400 titles available in Spanish, covering a wide variety of hazard-specific and industry-specific topics. Topics are categorized in the online library to facilitate browsing by hazard, operation or industry. Content ranges from OSHA compliance and employee safety to driving and driver issues and human resources and management topics.
Employees who have dedicated workspaces at home present a unique risk related to ergonomics. Ergonomics at home can be controlled by using a variety of techniques, such as issuing ergonomic desk equipment to employees, conducting yearly checks at home offices and requiring new employees to submit information and/or images regarding their workspaces. Great American provides content on standards that employers can implement for their organizations, such as:
- The Ergonomic Program Guide
- Providing a Safe Work from Home Environment
- Ergonomic Control Measures - Seated Work
- Ergonomic Control Measures - Standing Work
- Ergonomic Control Measures - Hand Tool Operation
Establishing a risk management system can be a valuable tool in protecting your organization and carrying out a risk management plan. Establishing a safety committee is just one tool that can be used in conjunction with the risk management system. For more information about establishing a risk management system, read this article.
For additional Loss Control guidance, please visit the Plan & Protect safety hub.