Safety Committees: A Game of Chutes and Ladders
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Safety Programs for Staffing: How to Start a Committee
Many staffing companies have probably thought about starting a safety committee at one time or another. But the process probably felt more like a game of Chutes and Ladders – the minute you make progress, you fall right back down the chute. One of the most common barriers is simply that organizations just don’t know where to start. Here’s how to get the dice rolling and keep climbing the safety ladder:
Select one or more employees from each department or division (depending on its size) that have demonstrated strong communication and work safety skills to participate. Then, set the first meeting date. In the first meeting, integrate a fun ice breaker to set the tone in terms of what you’d like to achieve, and that you can have fun in the process.
One of our construction insurance brokers has a good ice breaker that he recommends to clients that we’re going to borrow. It goes like this:
Ask the committee to break into small groups and spend two or three minutes coming up with a list of everything that can be fixed using duct tape. You’ll get plenty of great suggestions. Compile everyone’s list as a group into one master. Around the time everyone starts looking confused as to what the point of that was, ask them to repeat the exercise, and instead take ten minutes to come up with a list of everything someone in their department could do with a ten pound lifting restriction. Not only will you come up with some great ideas for creating or expanding your Return to Work and modified duty programs, but your employees will feel great about contributing to the company in such a fun and unusual way.
Move Ahead Three Spaces
Once the tone is set, outline an agenda of things you’d like to cover regularly at each meeting. I strongly suggest the following:
- Track and discuss each near miss, including how to prevent similar incidents in the future
- Track and discuss each claim, including how to prevent similar incidents in the future
- Track all employees currently away from work due to injury or on modified duty due to injury, and discuss the timetable and action plan for getting him or her back to full duty
- Track OSHA and job-specific trainings temp employees will require for upcoming jobs or general development
- Discuss safety incentive programs
- Provide an open forum for employee/client feedback
Climb the Ladder
There are many other items you can add to your monthly agenda. I encourage you to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your meetings and add or change these items as necessary. I also encourage you to decide as a group how often the committee meets. For a company with a buttoned up safety culture, quarterly is often sufficient. For those still getting their feet wet, monthly or every other month might make more sense, at least initially.
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