Monday, January 3, 2011

How to have an effective safety commitee

Monthly Safety Committees - What makes them effective? How do you measure? How do we ensure it is a benefit to are management system? I would like to know successes and failures other people have had.

As with many others involved with safety, for years I have struggled with ineffective safety meetings. Untold hours are spent by valuable people resources with little or no perceptible value added results. As we began involving Continuous Improvement (CI) safety teams to fix the many broken parts of a safety culture, safety meetings were high on everyone’s ‘needs to be fixed’ list. The result of these CI efforts typically has a well defined ‘POP statement.’ What is the Purpose of the safety meeting; What are the measureable, value added Outcomes of a safety committee; What is the Process by which these Outcomes will be achieved. Here is an example of an organization’s POP statement for safety committees:

Purpose: Develop safety accountabilities for all levels of our organization that will help us eliminate injuries.

Outcomes: Accountabilities that make a difference in safety for every job in the facility; a tracking system to follow accomplishment of these accountabilities; a reward system that reinforces these activities; reduced injury frequency as a result of doing this work well.

Process: How will we accomplish our purpose and outcomes?

Typically what follows is a description of how the team will work. Often this is to split up into small problem-solving teams that include ’volunteers’ to accomplish small tasks. Why volunteers? When people get to place themselves in performance zones where they are comfortable, they are much more likely to succeed. Conversely, quick delegation can possibly lead to having the wrong people on the wrong task. If there aren’t enough volunteers to do all the work in the time allotted, time or resources (or both) might need to be increased. This is not a crisis team; it is an improvement team that works the Continuous Improvement process. If no one wants to work on the needed tasks, then either the leader does them, or other people are asked, or the task goes undone until a later time when people, resources and time are available.

An entire safety program was developed from scratch in less than nine months using this effective safety meeting process. Hourly and salaried improvement team members applied these guidelines for all safety processes. The resultant safety system led to a reduction of serious injuries by more than 80% in its first two years.
Effective safety meetings engage your people in developing solutions to the issues they believe are the current problems keeping the organization from achieving a zero incident safety culture. This is the process that will energize your safety meetings and deliver excellence through active participation of your people. No more boring, ineffective coffee and donut safety meetings!

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