Safety reflects the culture of the business. Top leadership needs to take charge of the culture, to define it.
The best safety committees are chaired by a specified point person who reports outside of the committee to the CEO.
Why this arrangement? The CEO does not dictate safety measures.
Some safety rules and regulations are government mandated. Consider simple compliance to be a minimum.
Manufacturers offer safe operating techniques for machinery and other products.
The personnel who operate the machines, maintain the machines, work in the field at construction sites, deliver supplies and raw materials, or otherwise labor know their jobs and often have good ideas for efficiency and safety.
Supervisors observe which safety equipment or protocols are ignored or too cumbersome.
The committee hears all these sides and determines the best course of action to proceed safely.
The CEO is present for leadership in the safety culture, not process management. Once the safety protocols have been discussed and fixes determined, the CEO can approve costs and procedural changes.
The CEO listens first, then leads the implementation.
How Safety Committees Fail
The leading causes include:
- Never forming them
- Not taken seriously, lack of top down leadership
- Lack of swift implementation
- Lack of participation at all levels of employee
- Lack of management follow through
Obviously, the first four of the five main reasons attribute to poor leadership. The CEO is vital in this role. The CEO must communicate that his number one job is getting everyone home safely.
Management must follow through on protocols. Random drug testing, reviewing motor vehicle operators’ driving records, premises inspections of safety equipment, every safety protocol must be visible and public to reinforce the importance of compliance.
Safety meetings and safety committees are two different animals. Safety meetings, the lunch box variety, reinforces safety procedures already in place. They can, however, be used for line employees to offer suggestions for specific problems. The employee representatives to the committee can relay those messages.
Safety committees evaluate and reevaluate the culture of safety.
If the CEO hears new safety procedures, implements them, as a member of the committee, the CEO will know if these new protocols are working at the line level of the organization. Excellent leadership monitors the managers to assure this end result.