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PA Workplace Safety Committee Certification Would you like to reduce your workers' compensation premiums by 5 percent each year? Thousands of PA employers have already saved millions in insurance premiums by setting up a workplace safety committee that meets the requirements for state certification. April 2011
PA Workplace Safety Committee Certification That's millions that companies are using to buy new equipment, hire more workers, expand their businesses, and even pay bonuses to employees -- money that used to go to paying insurance premiums!
What do you have to do? Establish a safety committee that meets certain requirements, fill out a committee certification application and have it approved by the Department of Labor and Industry.
Training ALL committee members must be trained annually on the following three topics by qualified trainers: Safety Committee Operation Hazard Inspection Accident Investigation. Ask your insurance carrier to assist with training.
Meeting Requirements Committee meeting agendas, attendance lists and meeting minutes must be kept.
Starting a Safety Committee A safety committee has two overall missions: to act as a conduit for delivering safety information to the entire workforce, and to provide a channel for feedback and suggestions from the workers
Starting a Safety Committee Some companies and managers view safety as a top-down concept. Management sets out the rules, and the workers are expected to follow without question. But without buy-in from the workers, those rules are likely to create dissension and lead to bigger problems – or prove to be inappropriate in real-world situations.
Starting a Safety Committee A safety committee should include all levels of people within a company, from hourly workers to upper management. While you don’t want committees to become so large that they make meetings and decisionmaking impossible, it’s important to achieve that representation of people throughout the company or worksite.
Starting a Safety Committee Involving those who will be expected to follow the rules ensures that what may sound good in the executive office is actually practical and beneficial at the worksite. For example, management may react to an increase in claims for hand injuries by mandating that workers throughout a plant or at a construction site wear gloves. However, workers in some roles or areas may be able to point out that gloves will have such a negative effect on their dexterity that they make actually create bigger hazards.
Starting a Safety Committee Having a safety committee gives you a planned, practical way to address such issues. Instead of dictating the need for gloves, management’s representatives to the committee could make everyone aware of the increase in claims and ask everyone to bring ideas to the next meeting. It may be that the claims are actually the result of unsafe work practices or equipment that isn’t properly protected. Or, most workers may see gloves as beneficial, and those who don’t may be able to offer an alternate solution.
Starting a Safety Committee Once a committee is formed, its first goal should be to define its mission and vision. Again, a collaborative process will be more effective and meaningful than handing the members a list of responsibilities. The mission and vision will be slightly different with each committee, but it nearly always will focus on creating a safer working environment for all of the employees, on reducing injuries and illnesses, and on improving communication about safety throughout the organization.
Starting a Safety Committee The first step in making a safety committee work most effectively is making sure that it has the right members. As we noted, the most productive committees include participants from throughout the company or the specific jobsite, with members representing levels from hourly workers to upper management.
Starting A Safety Committee In companies or worksites with fewer than 100 workers, you can generally obtain the best results from committees of no more than seven members. Even when worksites become much larger, it’s good to keep the committee at a manageable size to ensure that all of the participants feel that they are really making contributions.
Starting a Safety Committee While it’s possible to select the members of the committee through some kind of democratic process such as election, the most effective committees are usually those for which participants are carefully selected. The goal is not to ensure that the owner or manager’s viewpoint dominates the discussion. Instead, it’s to make sure the people sitting on the committee will be good representatives who will be respected by the workers.
Starting a Safety Committee Before you approach specific candidates for the committee, be ready to answer their questions. They’ll want to know where and how often the committee is likely is to meet, and what expectations management has for the group. Most people will be honored to have been asked, as long as they have a good sense of what’s involved
Starting a Safety Committee It may be that some candidates may not be comfortable with the role, or that their work may force them to miss meetings. Give them the opportunity to turn you down. After all, a participant who is hesitant or who really doesn’t want to be there isn’t going to do anyone any good.
Starting a Safety Committee Give thought to the term of service, too. It’s a good idea to appoint members for a set amount of time, and to rotate positions so that members only need to commit for a year or so at a time. Rotating members is also a way to head off hard feelings about not being selected. If workers know that they may be asked six months or a year down the road, there won’t be as much resentment. You may also want to stagger members’ terms so there are no drastic changes at any one time.
Starting a Safety Committee Finally, be sure that any representatives from management do not dominate the meetings. It’s a natural tendency for company leaders to assume leadership roles in committee meetings, but that can be counterproductive. Workers may believe that the committee is a sham, or that management isn’t really interested in their ideas or involvement
Safety Committee All organizations should think through the role of their safety committee, including: • what the responsibilities and duties of the committee are • how the committee can help management to enforce safety rules • how to report unsafe conditions and acts • how to handle safety suggestions • how to conduct safety inspections or tours • what the committee should not do.
Safety Committee What role should your safety committee have?
Set a good example Committee members must set a good example! Committee members must be above average in their safe work habits and their positive attitude about safety
Report unsafe conditions. What will the committee's role be in reporting unsafe machinery and conditions and hazardous acts? This will vary, depending on the size of your location, the number of departments, and your organization's philosophy and policy.
Conduct safety inspections Many organizations utilize safety committee members to perform safety inspections or plant safety audits. This is a wise choice, for these are the people who know the work practices and the jobs on your site—and the inherent hazards in the work. They know the safe—and the unsafe— way to perform the jobs. But assigning safety committee members to do safety tours is only the start—training them in how to do the inspection task accurately and thoroughly is the next step
Investigate accidents Whatever approach you take, be sure that the role of the committee in investigating accidents is made clear at the start and instruct the members in their role. It's good practice to investigate both Lost Work Day Cases as well as minor accidents which could have been more serious
Hold regular meetings Safety committees must meet formally (usually at least once a month, sometimes biweekly), and for their meetings to be effective the following matters must be considered:
Meetings Selection of chairperson and a secretary
A prepared agenda in advance of the meeting keep discussions on track allow members to prepare for the meeting serve as written documentation of efforts allow management to track efforts conduct safety training activities
Minutes written summary of efforts names of attendees number of absentees responsibilities for implementation assigned timing of implementation assigned cost of implementation any approvals required completed recommendations uncompleted recommendations accident review safety training activities issued within 48 hours of the meeting
Apply! For more information, contact: Health & Safety Division Bureau of Workers’ Compensation PA Department of Labor & Industry 1171 S. Cameron Street, Rm. 324 Harrisburg, PA 17104 Phone: 717 -772 -1635 Fax: 717 -772 -1639 E-mail: [email protected] pa. us
Thank you Bill Green Quality Assurance Manager Safety Committee Chairman Phillips Mushroom Farms Phillips Gourmet, Inc. 610 -925 -0520 [email protected] com