April 28th is World Day for Safety and Health at Work! The International Labour Organization (ILO) began observing this event in 2003 to promote the prevention of work-related injuries, diseases, and fatalities.
The theme for this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work is to work together to build a positive workplace health and safety culture where everyone contributes to a safe and healthy work environment. Per the ILO, a positive safety culture is based on:
- Considering occupational and environmental health and safety (EHS) as a core value of the business that is integrated into every aspect of its operations
- Establishing positive EHS leadership by upper-level management and other employees with leadership responsibilities
- Encouraging open communication and dialogue related to EHS that is built on trust and mutual respect
- Providing training and information for all workers to ensure they can actively participate in actions to improve EHS
To promote a positive safety culture, the ILO also stresses the importance of participation and engagement through safety committees. They note that they have been found to be key in promoting compliance and designing and applying suitable and effective measures to eliminate hazards and/or minimize risks.
At Safety Partners, we have found that 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 improvements, and they see the value the company is placing on safety by dedicating a committee.
In order for a safety committee to be as effective as possible, its best to have representation from all groups, as well as at least one management representative that has the authority to make company decisions. Membership should extend beyond the safety officers in order to provide the opportunity for all employees to feel they are afforded a chance to provide input.
Meeting frequency is usually based on company size and depth of the EHS program, but in general they should be held at least quarterly. Having a set schedule will ensure that the meetings happen at the agreed upon frequency. It’s generally best that meetings be structured, with an agenda and meeting minutes prepared. The main responsibilities of a safety committee typically include developing and implementing SOPs; reviewing new hazardous materials or equipment being proposed; reviewing safety walkthrough findings; and discussing any incidents, accidents, and near misses that occurred.
For more information on World Day for Safety and Health at Work or for assistance implementing an effective safety committee at your workplace, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog was written by Beth Graham, Associate Director of Quality, Research, & Training at Safety Partners.