What Is The Role Of A Health and Safety Committee?
In this article we look at the role of the health and safety committee and answer some of the questions we are frequently asked on the topic.
Health and safety committees give a structured approach to consultation. They provide a forum where management and employees can work together to resolve any health and safety issues.
For employees who do not belong to a trade union, establishing a health and safety committee is not a legal requirement.
Employees in a trade union can insist a committee is set up through two or more of their health and safety representatives issuing a written request.
Why should I consult with my employees?
Consulting with your employees on health and safety is an effective way to motivate employees to work more safely. Employees that have a voice are more likely to follow safe systems of work and operate in a safe manner. They also often encourage other employees to do the same.
It also encourages them to report situations they feel uncomfortable with; a valuable tool in accident prevention. In fact HSE studies show that workplaces where employees play an active part in health and safety management, have lower accident rates.
My employees do have trade union health and safety representatives and they have requested that I set up a committee. How quickly do I need to do this?
My employees do not have a trade union. Does the health and safety committee work in the same way?
Who should be on the committee?
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How will it work?
In setting up a committee it is beneficial to agree in advance with your safety representatives how it is going to work. You will need to decide the principles of how it will work best, who the members will be and define meeting schedules and a broad agenda.
You’ll also need to consider the purpose and remit of the committee decision, the process around making and dealing with disagreements and the resources required by representatives.
Finally, you will have to identify how the results of the meetings will be communicated to employees.The committee should aim to discuss health and safety matters in a constructive, non-aggressive manner and in return the company should take an open-minded, non-defensive approach in responding to the opinions and suggestions raised.
What items should be on the agenda for meetings?
The agenda should include items such as statistics on accident records, ill health, sickness absence; accident investigations and subsequent action; inspections of the workplace; risk assessments; health and safety training; emergency procedures and any changes in the workplace affecting the health, safety and welfare of employees.