Is your safety committee a cost cutter or a time drain?

By Higginbotham on December 10 , 2015

Building an effective safety committee

According to OSHA estimates, U.S. employers spend nearly a billion dollars every week in direct workers’ compensation costs alone. That’s just for starters. Indirect costs add even more to the bill – training replacement employees, investigating accidents, implementing corrective measures, repairing damaged equipment, and dealing with the costs associated with lost productivity, lower employee morale and higher absenteeism.

To take control of these costs, you need an aggressive strategy from the beginning. That means preventing accidents and injuries from happening in the first place. Of course, you’ll never prevent every accident, but that should be your goal.

Having a dedicated safety committee gives you a head start on meeting that goal and controlling your workers’ compensation costs.

A strong safety committee can be a powerful tool in preventing workplace accidents and illnesses, continuously improving your safety measures, and creating a culture of safety. It can also help protect your bottom line by enforcing your company’s safety policies, assisting with investigation and reporting of workplace accidents and conducting regular safety training and inspections. It’s the perfect tool for raising awareness and creating a sense of ownership in a safe workplace among your employees.

That can translate into lower workers’ compensation claims costs and lower insurance rates. But there are no guarantees, so be aware of the pitfalls.

A chain is only as good as its weakest link.

A safety committee can be a key part of your safety program – or it can be a huge waste of time and a source of constant frustration for management. Many companies form a committee because OSHA requires it or the insurance agent suggested it. And all too often, those committees lack the focus, funding, commitment or motivation to make them effective. It’s not unusual for a committee to dwindle away to nothing due to a lack of commitment or failure of management to buy into it.

Don’t let this happen to your safety committee!

Just how effective your committee is depends mostly on how much commitment you and your employees put into it. So how do you make sure yours is an effective cost-cutting tool rather than a time and money drain?

First, get the right people. Membership should be voluntary, and your committee should represent various departments. Getting all levels of employees involved makes it more likely your committee will be a winner for the entire company. Assign a safety director or coordinator to oversee the committee and direct its activities. Once your committee is established, follow these best practices to make it the most effective:

  • Develop a safety program and thoroughly train all employees on the program, including a safety orientation for new hires.
  • Hold regular meetings on a consistent schedule and with clear agendas.
  • Assign someone to take meeting minutes that summarize what was discussed, proposed actions and people responsible for follow-up.
  • Set short- and long-term goals that are measurable, achievable and reviewed regularly.
  • Act as a safety review board for all accidents and injuries, and recommend safety measures that can prevent future accidents.
  • Establish a clear procedure for reporting hazardous conditions and activities, and stick to it.
  • Conduct regular inspections to identify and correct unsafe conditions before an incident occurs.
  • Conduct evacuation and shelter-in-place drills.
  • Make sure First Aid kits and personal protective equipment are readily available.

For more information about turning your safety committee into a vital tool that drives measurable improvements in workplace safety, accident and injury rates and your bottom line, talk to the risk management experts at Higginbotham Insurance.

Related: Modern workforce = Evolving workers' compensation risks


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