Six tips for starting a safety committee

As a member of two safety and health committees, Jordan Hollingsworth understands their value.

“Maybe you’re not the decision-maker, but you might have a great idea, and you might be able to bring it to the table,” said Hollingsworth, field operations manager for the Indianapolis-based Safety Management Group. “Then that great idea gets implemented across the board.”

Hollingsworth said such committees serve as a valuable launching pad for new ideas, as well as identifying safety concerns in an organization.

“It’s a conduit for that voice,” he said.

So, how do you start a safety and health committee at your workplace? Safety+Health asked several experts and came up with six guidelines.


1. Know where to start

A safety and health committee needs advocates throughout the organization. To Steven L. Greeley, director of the Workplace Safety and Health Division at the Maine Department of Labor, the starting point is crystal clear.

“Management commitment is the first place to start,” Greeley said, “primarily because you could have somebody who would be able to dedicate resources to the committee.”

Those resources may not include immediate financial support, but could be just as valuable.

“It’s (having) someone who could make sure that worker on the machine will be given time to leave the machine to go to the meetings,” Greeley said. “If it’s not something that has top management commitment behind it, people might not be able to get away from their work.”

Another important initial step is checking state and local rules and labor contracts regarding safety committees, said Erica Frey-Hoyer, process improvement manager at Packaging Corp. of America in Salem, OR.

Nebraska is the only state that requires all employers to have a safety and health committee, according to OSHA. Meanwhile, 15 other states mandate such committees under various provisions. (For a full list, see “Safety committee regulations by state.”)

Additionally, review your organization’s policies and procedures with human resources, author John P. Spath recommends in his book, “Building a Better Safety and Health Committee.”

“Although most human resource organizations will not be a barrier to operating an effective safety and health committee,” Spath wrote, “they may have practices that govern pay, time away from their normal job assignment, meeting attendance and other routines that establish internal parameters the committee may have to manage.”

2. State your purpose

When building a committee, documenting bylaws, responsibilities, procedures and goals is a must. “They should include a standard agenda that would be followed each meeting,” Frey-Hoyer said. She recommends including specific details into the bylaws.

“For example, safety committee meetings will be held the third Wednesday of the month and will rotate between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. to accommodate employees on different shifts,” she said.

The bylaws also can include specific activities that will happen monthly, quarterly or annually, and the person responsible for each activity.

3. Get organized

A common flaw of new committees is disorganization.

“The safety committee that doesn’t lay down the groundwork and the expectations first, they probably fail,” Hollingsworth said.

Frey-Hoyer encourages new committees to focus on documentation and reporting. “An important bylaw every committee should have is specifying who and how the meeting minutes will be captured and distributed,” she said. “Remember, if it’s not written down, it never happened.”

Determine how long committee members will serve, and consider staggering members’ terms. “If you’re cycling out members, don’t cycle out every member at the same time,” Hollingsworth said. Frey-Hoyer suggested about 10% to 20% turnover each year, which will help maintain continuity while bringing a “steady stream of new ideas.”

4. Choose members wisely

Two common types of committees are employee-only and joint committees, in which both workers and management are represented, according to the National Safety Council “Supervisors’ Safety Manual, 10th Edition.”

“Either type gives workers a chance to contribute to the overall safety and health of an organization,” the manual states, “but the joint committee is usually more effective in a team-based organization. Cooperation is maximized when worker and management committee members volunteer or are elected by their peers.”


Greeley is a proponent of joint committees. “Any time you can get labor and management working together, it’s a benefit,” he said. “There’s a certain trust there.”

Having equal representation also helps workers who may be reluctant to approach management with safety issues. “For whatever reason, they don’t feel comfortable,” he said. “With the committee, that person might approach a co-worker (on the committee) where they might not approach a manager.”

Frey-Hoyer suggested naming a front-line worker to serve as the committee chairperson or co-chair with a management representative to advocate for the workforce.

Committees should ensure representation throughout the organization. Experts said that entails participation from different departments, shifts or trades.

Members rotating off the committee, meanwhile, can be an additional influence by extending the safety and health message. “As you bring somebody new on, you’ve got this new ally,” Greeley said. “You’re also putting more allies out into the workforce that are no longer on the committee, but they’re still very much committed to what the committee does.”

5. Plan ahead

“Effective committee meetings don’t just happen,” Spath wrote in his book. “They result from a continuous planning cycle.” That cycle, he said, begins with determining the desired purpose(s) of each meeting and whether it can be met in the meeting’s time frame.

Next, decide which members can share knowledge about the planned meeting’s subjects, or if subject matter experts should be invited.

Distributing an agenda in advance helps all members come prepared. “Documents help keep people on target,” Greeley said.

Following an agenda will keep committee meetings flowing smoothly and ensure tasks are being completed. “I like something going out (before each meeting) that’s going to remind people, ‘We have a meeting coming up,’” Greeley said. “‘These were the action items from last month. These were the people who were responsible for following up on these items.’ When you come to that next meeting, people are prepared to work on something.”

Hollingsworth recommended laying out a schedule a year ahead, with milestone dates for various goals. Spath considers a future list a good way to add an inventory of new ideas or topics that can be maintained and discussed in the months ahead.

6. Stress accountability

Being a committee member comes with a responsibility to the organization and co-workers to improve the safety and health culture. This is where some committees can fall short.

“When you put down an action item, make sure you put somebody’s name to it,” Greeley said. “It shouldn’t always be the chairperson or your safety manager. You’re all part of the committee, and people can take a piece of that.”

Hearing many different voices in an organization represented is one of the biggest benefits of starting a committee. “An engaged safety committee will build the safety culture within an organization by improving working conditions, safe work practices and safety programs,” Frey-Hoyer said.

A committee also should have one other important trait – uniqueness.

Tailor the committee by setting meeting times and dates that best fit everyone’s schedules, and create feedback opportunities for employees in any role and at any level.

“Do something that works for your company,” Greeley said. “Make it your committee.”

Safety committee regulations by state

Sixteen states require employers to have safety and health committees – 15 under varying circumstances. Below is a list of those states and their provisions.

Alabama: If requested by employees
Connecticut: More than 25 employees or a high incident rate
Hawaii: Employers with 25 or more workers must have a committee or “a person designated and trained by the employer for the facility’s safety and health program.”
Louisiana: An employer’s safety plan has requirements for “designation of employees responsible for safety” and regular safety meetings.
Minnesota: More than 25 employees or a high incident rate
Montana: More than five employees
Nebraska: Required of all employers
Nevada: More than 25 employees
New Hampshire: More than 15 employees
New York: Group dividend plan (Employer enrollment in safety and loss prevention incentive program)
North Carolina: High incident rate or more than 10 employees
Oregon: More than 10 employees (Meetings required for employers with 10 or fewer employees.)
Tennessee: High incident rate
Vermont: High incident rate
Washington: More than 10 employees
West Virginia: High incident rate

Note: Although California doesn’t require employers to have a safety and health committee, having one puts them in compliance with the state’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program communication rule.

Source: OSHA


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Four Critical Steps To Burn Treatment Immediately Stop the Burning

Seconds count, when burns occur.

Burns need to be cooled immediately. Otherwise, the heat will continue to destroy the surrounding and underlying tissue, and may even progress into a second or third-degree burn. This will present serious complications for the patient both in cost and on-going treatment.

Here are four critical steps you should take to treat a burn:

         1. Immediately stop the burning process

         2. Cool the burn, but don’t overcool the patient

         3. Provide pain relief

         4. Cover and protect the burn area against contamination

It is actually recommended that you don’t use ice. It can cause more damage and slow the healing process. It is recommended instead you use a burn dressing. Burn dressings are a gelatinized water mix designed to perform the four critical steps for burn management in one application. Because of their gelatinous nature, they seal the burn from further contamination, they cool the burn site and relieve pain by heat transfer into themselves, and the fluids on the burn site cannot soak into the dressing nor can they evaporate through them. And finally, as the burn site cools down, the dressing warms up, leaving the site covered by a warm dressing, helping to prevent hypothermia.

Burn Dressing will absorb temperatures which is extremely important. The additional gel within the burn gel pouch can be left on the wound for up to four hours prior to receiving further medical treatment if necessary.

Benefits of burn dressings

  • Provides controlled cooling by convection, not evaporation
  • Acts as a heat exchanger
  • Absorbs heat throughout the gel contact area
  • Conforms to the burn surface, providing total cooling contact
  • Does not affect core body temperature or contribute to hypothermia
  • Stops the burning process
  • Portable—on the scene—when seconds count!
  • Cools the burn, dissipates heat
  • Provides pain relief
  • Easy to use
  • Evaporates slowly
  • Use on any burn
  • Non-adherent, easy to remove
  • Covers and protects against contamination
  • Helps prevent infection
  • Water-soluble
  • Won’t irritate the eyes, nose or mouth

All burns should be treated with concern. It is important to keep in mind the golden rule of burn management: If someone has a burn on his or her body exceeding the size of the palm of his or her own hand, where blisters are present, burns to genitalia, face or to any flexion point, this person should seek medical attention. All electrical burns require medical attention.


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School Bus Safety Week 

School Bus Safety Week

Lisa Beech, transportation director for the Pearl River County School District, said it is important to remember school bus safety all year long.

“We’ve still got a public that doesn’t view buses as having our most precious cargo,” Beech said.

The biggest safety concern for buses is motorists who pass stopped or slowing buses, Beech said.

“When a child gets hurt from a school bus, it’s usually because they’re in that danger zone, within 10 feet of the bus, getting on or off,” Beech said.

Nathan’s Law makes it easier for districts to hold driver’s accountable, Beech said. The Mississippi law was passed in 2011 after 5-year-old Nathan Key was killed by a hit and run driver when he was getting off his school bus in northern Mississippi. According to a press release from the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents, one Mississippi child was killed in a school bus related incident in 2018. Dalen Thomas, a 9-year-old student in Lee County, was hit by a pickup truck on Oct. 31 as he boarded his school bus, the release states.


When drivers pass a stopped school bus in Pearl River County, the bus driver tries to take down the vehicle’s tags and the Pearl River County School District pursues charges for any vehicle that passes the bus, Beech said. Still, every week cars pass stopped school buses in this county, Beech said.

If no children are injured, the fine for passing a stopped school bus can be up to $700; but can be a minimum of $350 for a first offense.

On a two-lane road, vehicles in both lanes must stop if the bus is unloading children, said Sheriff David Allison. On a four lane road with a median, drivers in the lanes opposite the bus do not have to stop, Allison said, but vehicles behind a bus always need to stop.

“To the citizens in vehicles or commercial vehicles, if you see a school bus, pay attention and slow down and of course always stop if the bus is stopped letting children off,” Allison said.

School buses are safer than passenger vehicles, said Beech, and include many additional safety measures, like side panels that are reinforced every two feet.

Bus drivers are trained in first aid and CPR, and are subject to random drug and alcohol testing, Beech said.

Bus driver Jane Leaming said the biggest safety concern on her route is when cars pass her on Ceasar Road in the early morning hours when it is still dark.

Leaming has worked with parents to establish a drop-off point for multiple kids farther along the route, so that she is able to pick them up when there is some sunlight.

Maintaining trusting relationships between parents and bus drivers helps keep students safe, Beech said.


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It’s Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month – Learn CPR

CPR/First Aid Training – Corporate and Group Classes

Over 300,000 Americans die every year from Sudden Cardiac Arrest, be sure your company has first responders trained and ready to help save a life.

We make it easy! UniFirst First Aid + Safety offers weekly CPR classes for companies and groups, UniFirst First Aid + Safety’s CPRAED and First Aid training program will help employers meet OSHA and other federal and state regulatory requirements for training employees how to respond and care for medical emergencies at work.

Looking for a Team Building opportunity? Learn to save a life while providing a great team-building exercise.

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Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month – What You Should Know

More than 350,000 deaths occur each year as a result of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)

SCA claims one life every two minutes, taking more lives each year than breast cancer, lung cancer, or AIDS. To decrease the death toll from SCA, it is important to understand what SCA is, what warning signs are, and how to respond and prevent SCA from occurring. More than 65 percent of Americans not only underestimate the seriousness of SCA, but also believe SCA is a type of heart attack. But they are not the same thing.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Awareness

October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, which represents a critical initiative by the Heart Rhythm Society to raise awareness for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and help the public become more familiar with what it is, how it affects people, and what can be done to help save lives.

The Society’s award-winning “Apples and Oranges” campaign uses a simple analogy to educate people about the difference between a heart attack and SCA. More than 65 percent of Americans not only underestimate the seriousness of SCA, but also believe SCA is a type of heart attack. The campaign targets heart attack survivors, who are at the highest risk for SCA, and stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy heart lifestyle and learning critical risk markers, especially their Ejection Fraction (EF).

This public service announcement explains the dangers of SCA and features Emmy-award winning journalist Shaun Robinson.

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest

  • More than 350,000 deaths occur each year as a result of sudden cardiac arrest.
  • SCA claims one life every two minutes, taking more lives each year than breast cancer, lung cancer, or AIDS.
  • To decrease the death toll from SCA, it is important to understand what SCA is, what warning signs are, and how to respond and prevent SCA from occurring.

Responding to SCA — Time is Everything

Time-to-treatment is critical when considering the chance of survival for an SCA victim. Ninety-five percent of those who experience SCA die because they do not receive life-saving defibrillation within four to six minutes, before brain and permanent death start to occur. Learn more about the steps to take when responding to a potential SCA emergency.

SCA Resources

Patients can access information about SCA, including causes, prevention, and other important facts.

Learn your SCA risk by using an interactive online tool. It’s fast and easy — simply answer a few questions regarding your health and get your results. After you have finished using the assessment, please consult with your physician regarding your results.


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Is Your Eye Wash Station Compliant?

The OSHA Medical and First Aid Standard 29 CFR 1910.151 ( c ) states “where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use”.

However, OSHA doesn’t clarify minimum standards for ‘suitable facilities’ and therefore, employers often refer to ANSI for guidance.

Emergency eyewashes often go unused for long periods of time. Therefore, it’s important to test them regularly to ensure that they are working correctly when they are required. Most employers refer to ANSI Z358.1-2014 for guidance on what to inspect and be aware of.

ANSI Z358.1-2014 (section 5.5.2) states that plumbed eyewash equipment should be activated on a weekly basis long enough to ensure that flushing fluid is provided. This standard also requires tests of temperature, operation of valves, checks on flushing fluid and whether it needs to be changed, etc. Of course, it is difficult to prove that these checks have been undertaken if records are not kept.

However, in addition to this standard, the manufacturer’s recommendations usually state that devices should be inspected and tested and the results recorded, on a weekly basis.


Did you know UniFirst First Aid + Safety First Aid & Safety offers onsite service to help maintain your eyewash station? 

Do you manage your own eyewash station? UniFirst First Aid + Safety provides eye-wash station inspection checklists to help you meet compliance easily and affordably.



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Post-Dispatch’s Goold helps save man’s life at Busch Stadium

Before he chronicled the Cardinals’ first division title-clinching since 2015, Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold helped save a man’s life Sunday at Busch Stadium.

St. Louis-based videographer Mike Flanary, 64, collapsed in the Cubs’ dugout before the game and was briefly without a pulse before CPR was performed by Goold, a longtime former lifeguard and Eagle Scout trained in CPR. After receiving further medical attention from the Cubs’ training staff and then emergency medical personnel, Flanary was transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Medical officials said Flanary, who was working for a Chicago television affiliate for Sunday’s game, was in “critical but stable” condition after suffering a heart attack and then a stroke.

Cardinals’ security director Phil Melcher, asked about Goold’s immediate assistance, said it was “huge. You cannot discount that, at all. I absolutely thanked him.”

Washington University’s Dr. David Tan, the stadium doctor on duty Sunday at Busch, said, “So many people are afraid of doing CPR. But, because of (Goold’s) actions, he was the first link in that chain of survival.

“It’s fabulous. It was the early CPR by Derrick Goold that probably saved his life. Derrick wasn’t afraid. He didn’t hesitate. And he did it.

“In the medical field, when you save somebody like this, they call it a clinical save. This is a clinical save that was started by Derrick Goold. Period.”

Bill Hayes, a registered nurse who was on duty as a supervisor, said, “Somebody said, ‘Does somebody know CPR? And Derrick said, ‘I do.’

Goold had just entered the dugout area just before the Cubs were to announce the dismissal of Joe Maddon as manager.


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Confused about AED Inspections? This Might Help….

So you have an AED, but do you need to inspect it?

OSHA Standards do not specifically address automated external defibrillators. However, their previously issued TIB-01-12-17 recommends the use of AEDs at every work site as a safe, effective, easily learned method to improve survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest victims.

Therefore, when seconds count, it is vital that an AED is functioning properly and the only way of achieving this is through, regular, routine inspections.

This is endorsed by the American Heart Association in their publication Implementing an AED Program, which recommends “It is important to do a weekly or monthly visual inspection of the AEDs to ensure they are in working order. The program coordinator or another designated person can do the inspections. This person develops a written checklist to assess the readiness of the AEDs.”


AED Inspection Checklist Solution

When it comes to AED inspections there are a couple of options:

               1. Inspect yourself

               2. Have a specialist manage your AED inspections for you


If you plan to inspect the AED yourself we have a great AED inspection Checklist solution that will help:

  • Meet OSHA 1915.87 App A
  • Make date and time-stamped safety status visible to everyone around the AED
  • Drive safe behavior in making sure AED inspections take place
  • Help the inspector by walking them through what to inspect using the checklist book
  • Ensure accountability and safety ownership with signature capture
  • Keep an instant and auditable record in the carbon copy checklist book
  • Engage supervisors and colleagues by making safety visible and building a safety culture
  • Make maintenance and repair proactive, fast and efficient


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Learn To Save a Life In 4 Hours – CPR Training, Are You Prepared?

CPR/First Aid Training – Corporate and Group Classes

UniFirst First Aid + Safety offers weekly CPR classes for companies and groups, UniFirst First Aid + Safety’s CPRAED and First Aid training program will help employers meet OSHA and other federal and state regulatory requirements for training employees how to respond and care for medical emergencies at work.

This 2-year certification course conforms to the 2015 AHA Guidelines Update for CPR and ECC, and the 2015 AHA and ARC Guidelines Update for First Aid.

Looking for a Team Building opportunity? Learn to save a life while providing a great team-building exercise.

Schedule Your Class Now

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It wasn’t his time:’ man performed CPR, saving life of neighbor in cardiac arrest

A man heard cries from his condo, and ran to help. He ended up saving his neighbor’s life!

After he heard screams coming from a nearby condo, Jeff Zilisch saw that his neighbor had collapsed. He used his CPR training to save him.

“It was being at the right place at the right time,” said Zilisch.

“My heart goes out to him,” said Tim Ridley, whose life was saved. “It’s just amazing.”

Tim Ridley


It happened in early August, as Zilisch cleaned his garage.

“Halfway across the parking lot, I realized, ‘Oh my gosh! This is not what I thought it was,'” said Zilisch.







Ridley was experiencing cardiac arrest. He was power washing his porch when he passed out.

“At that moment, I just had a cold rush from the neck up, and that’s the last memory I have,” said Ridley.

Zilisch jumped into action, performing CPR until paramedics arrived.

“I haven’t had CPR training in 20 years, and I just went into automatic mode,” said Zilisch.

Dispatchers talked him through it, as Ridley fought for his life.

“I knew it wasn’t his time, and I was like, ‘God, put this life back into this

man,'” said Zilisch.

Ridley was rushed to the hospital, where he woke up after 24 hours.

“Certain things had to happen, for everyone to be around, for me to be living, without a doubt,” said Ridley.

Jeff Zilisch






Jeff Zilisch

The life-saving actions were recognized by the Mequon Common Council Tuesday evening, Sept. 10 — these neighbors forever connected.

“He saved my life, and I’m blessed with that, but he’s the absolute hero in this scenario,” said Ridley.

Both men stressed the importance of CPR training, saying you’ll never know when you might need to use it.


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