How to have an effective safety committee

Another article by the late George Robotham. You can find more of his work at here: SAFETY RELECTIONS

How to have an effective safety committee


Safety committees are much maligned and often ineffective. They can easily denigrate to a whinge-fest and end up covering topics that should be dealt with on a routine, every day basis. There is a tendency Depositphotos_12276211_xsto save issues up to a committee meeting rather than action straightaway. There is also a tendency to deal with minor issues.

1 Have a well developed charter for the committee, searching educational institutions and government department’s web sites will find some good examples.

2 Train members in their roles and responsibilities.

3 Deal mainly with substantive issues, give the committee a meaty job to do.

4 Carrying out a force field analysis  with the committee can be very valuable.

5 A good way to use the committee is to have them do the leg work to recommend major change to senior management.

6 Produce succinct minutes.

7 Ensure people are given the necessary time to attend meetings and carry out necessary tasks, this is a common failure with committees.

8The OHS professional often ends up being the chairperson, much better to have someone with management horsepower so decisions can be made on the spot.

9 An occasional guest speaker will liven the show up.

10 Substantive discussion and decisions must be feedback to the workforce.

11 Do not take yourself too seriously.

12 Celebrate success.

13 Require members to do their homework

14 Be conscious of Group-Think (Look the term up on Google if you are not familiar with it)


Remember that management must respond positively to well researched recommendations from the committee

George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

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