Safety by committee

We all have parts of our jobs that are more challenging than others. For roofing contractors, it would be understandable if safety were high on that list. For one, federal and state occupational safety and health regulations not only can be burdensome but also difficult to understand and apply. Furthermore, getting employees to understand—let alone comply—with a company's safety program is yet another hurdle to ensuring a safe workplace.

But there may be a way to increase your safety program's success: Create a safety committee. NRCA believes companies with safety committees tend to have lower accident and injury rates than those without one. And setting up a safety committee is not difficult.

"A safety committee is one of the best tools to instill in workers an awareness of their critical roles in the prevention of workplace injuries," says Harry Dietz, NRCA's director of risk management. "It strengthens accountability among all levels within a company to help establish and support a sound safety culture."

A safety committee should include at a minimum an owner, senior management representative, middle management representative and field staff. All members should have the chance to direct the committee's activity and have equal voice to express concerns and ideas for improvement. The committee should meet monthly and discuss what is and is not working. A safety committee encourages and empowers employees to challenge current practices, ask for help and provide feedback. The committee also can help analyze hazards and evaluate control methods.