Implementing a safety committee with regularly scheduled meetings has many beneficial effects on a company’s EHS program. Do you have an established safety committee or have you considered gathering members for a safety committee?
In order for a safety committee to be as effective as possible, it is best to have representation from all groups, as well as members that have the authority to make company decisions. Membership should extend beyond the Biosafety Officer, Chemical Hygiene Officer, Radiation Safety Officer, and Emergency Coordinators, which promotes the opportunity for all employees to feel they are afforded a chance to provide input. Meetings can be held at any frequency, which is usually influenced by company size and depth of the EHS program. Having a set schedule will ensure that the meetings happen at the agreed upon frequency, rather than getting pushed back on everyone’s busy calendar. The main responsibilities of a safety committee typically include developing and implementing SOPs, reviewing new hazardous materials or equipment being proposed, and reviewing incidents, accidents, and near misses that occurred since the last safety committee meeting. All members should be heavily involved in the dissemination of the information discussed at meetings.
Establishing an effective safety committee sets the stage for establishing a positive safety culture. Employees know who to turn to when they have EHS concerns, questions, or suggestions for program development, and they see the value the company is placing on safety by dedicating a committee. Reviewing proposed SOPs as a committee allows for input from end users, which makes policies easy to comply with. When new hazardous material is being considered, a discussion at the safety committee allows members to evaluate the proper use before the material is received. It is critical to review incidents, accidents, and near misses to evaluate what can be done to prevent reoccurrence, as well as assess how the incident was handled.
So if you don’t have an established safety committee, or you have a committee that has not met in a long time, now is a good time to gather members and set a date for a meeting!