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Workplace Safety Committees (5 Mistakes to Avoid)

Workplace Safety Committee

Workers’ Compensation costs can be hard to manage!

These costs are directly related to the frequency and type of injuries that occur in your workplace. Just one accident or injury can impact your premiums exponentially! 

And multiple workplace injuries will have a lasting negative impact resulting in exceptionally high premium costs.

In an attempt to prevent workplace injuries, insurance companies encourage businesses to establish a workplace safety committee. 

In addition to the insurance company offering a 5% savings on your workers’ compensation insurance premium, your safety committee can have an even more significant effect on your overall workers’ compensation costs.

By reviewing claims and near misses and implementing practices that prevent employee injuries, an effective safety committee will have a long-term impact on reducing your workers’ compensation claims.

And because your claims are the number one driver of your workers’ compensation insurance premium, eliminating and lessening the effect of your claims will have a significant impact!

As a Certified WorkComp Advisor, I often work with businesses in industries with high workplace injury rates. And part of the service I offer those clients is assistance with their safety committee. 

Many of our new clients already have, or at one time had, a safety committee in place. However, these clients’ past experiences often lead them to conclude that a safety committee is a waste of time. Their opinion is that it was ineffective.

On the other hand, I have other clients with very successful safety committees that actively help their organization create a culture of safety. These committees make a significant contribution toward lowering workers’ compensation costs.

This begs the question, “Why are some safety committees so effective, and why are some a waste of time?” 

To answer those questions, I thought I’d share with you the most common mistakes that I’ve seen produce an ineffective safety committee. Here they are:

  1. Half-hearted 0wner and management buy-in 
  2. Negative committee members
  3. Lack of follow-up and implementation
  4. Irrelevant meetings 
  5. Lack of appreciation

1. Half-hearted buy-in

This has to be the easiest way to derail your safety committee. If the owner or management team is only half-hearted about making safety changes, the committee will quickly sense it! 

And because the committee will recognize that the leadership has no real commitment to creating a safety culture, they quit putting their effort into their committee work. They’ll allow things to stay status quo.

2. Negative committee members

As the employer, you have input over who joins your safety committee. Your committee should include management and a cross-section of your other employees. Among those members, you want to steer clear of individuals prone to complaining or chronic negativity.

While you don’t want someone obliviously optimistic, A Negative Nancy or Naysayer Ned can have a disastrous impact on your committee’s effectiveness. These types of members are known for comments like, “It’ll never work.” or “Nobody’s going to do this!”

Negative input discourages a committee from bringing helpful suggestions and recommendations to your attention. 

Instead, look for individuals who have a passion for safety and understand the value they can bring to your organization.

3. Lack of follow-up and implementation 

Let me start by throwing out a couple of examples of this. 

Your committee meets one month and reports, “We need better road signs and reflective gear because Alice almost got hit last week!” 2 months later, nothing was changed or implemented.

Or, the committee sends this report, “We’ve had three eye injury claims. We need to crackdown. Employees need to wear their safety goggles.” Again, no one enforces the recommendation. There is no change in behavior.

By lacking follow-up and follow-through, your committee will quickly get the picture that your organization is not serious about creating a culture of safety. 

When your organization’s leadership implements your safety committee’s recommendations, you affirm your commitment to this critical task. This will encourage your committee to continue hunting for ways that they can improve safety in your workplace and prevent workplace injuries from occurring.

And while you may not be able to put all of their recommendations into practice, making a concerted effort when you can goes a long way. 

4. Meetings aren’t relevant

In general, people often consider meetings a tedious necessity. So, if you want your safety committee to be a complete failure, make sure to keep it boring!

What I mean by this is to make sure they’re not relevant. 

One way to keep safety meetings relevant is by engaging with a professional equipped with knowledge that can address issues specific to your industry. 

Another way to make your meeting relevant is by incorporating employee feedback. Asking employees to identify gaps in your safety culture will help you address your company’s most pertinent safety issues. 

Your employees are the eyes and ears of your organization. Because they are present daily in your workplace, they will be able to identify safety concerns.

Finally, don’t be afraid to bring up new topics regularly. You can ask your insurance agent, insurance company, or risk management team for ideas on issues that your committee should consider covering at their meetings. 

And if you really want to find out where you have gaps in your safety program, have a firm conduct anonymous interviews with a cross-section of your trusted employees. You will have enough relevant material for a couple of years of meeting. (I’d be happy to share examples of how this has transformed organizations.)

5. Leadership doesn’t appreciate their efforts

Being on a safety committee can be a thankless job! For one, your committee is often the bearer of bad news. 

This committee is likely to make recommendations that employees might complain about or that might create a little extra work – all in the name of keeping people safer.

Let’s face it. No one likes implementing safety protocols or having to wear their protective gear. 

Committees that don’t hear “Thank you!” now and then get discouraged. It takes a lot of energy to give needed recommendations because of the pushback and irritation it’s likely to cause others.

Committee members appreciate when the leadership of a business acknowledges their efforts. Consider doing this verbally, with a note, or by somehow treating your committee during their meeting time.

Saying “thank you” and celebrating their work is an excellent way to show that you value their effort.

Do you want to improve the safety culture of your company?

Over and over, I’ve had clients and prospective clients who want to improve their safety culture but were resistant to assembling a safety committee. 

In my experience, any company that wants to make an impact on lessening and eliminating workers’ comp injuries needs an effective and active safety committee.

Your safety committee should be the eyes and ears of your organization. Your committee should have a sense of where you could be doing a better job creating a safe working environment.

Your committee should also know what kind of training your employees need to work safely and responsibly with your other employees.

At Baily Insurance Agency, we come alongside our clients to establish practices that will lower their workers’ compensation costs

In terms of safety committees, our team helps our clients file the necessary paperwork to set up a certified safety committee. We also have relationships with risk management experts that can facilitate their committee and assist with needed training.

While an effective workplace safety committee is one tool for taking an active role in reducing your workers’ compensation costs, it’s not the only tool in the box.

At Baily Insurance, we have a host of other tools that we implement to drive down workers’ compensation premiums. 

How effective is your workplace safety committee? Do you need some help organizing your meeting agenda and ensuring you’re identifying areas of safety your business needs to address?  

Our risk management team would welcome the opportunity to discuss your workers’ compensation issues and needs. If you have questions that you’d like answered, give us a call today!


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