Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety EH&S Factsheets

Safety Committees:

Partnerships for Prevention and Protection


WSU employees and students work, conduct research, and learn in a healthy and safe environment. Maintaining and enhancing this environment is a responsibility shared by the University administration, employees, and safety committees. Safety Committees provide a forum where members utilize their work experience and expertise to evaluate safety concerns and recommend practical and innovative solutions to make work practices and facilities safer.

Committee Roles and Responsibilities

Safety committees provide a forum for employees and managers to work together and to participate in WSU’s environmental, health, and safety efforts. Committee members utilize their expertise to evaluate safety concerns and recommend solutions to make work practices and facilities safer. Safety committees coordinate with unit administrators, supervisors, and employees in:

  • creating and maintaining active interest in health and safety and reducing the occurrence of workplace injuries and illnesses within their unit;
  • identifying problems, monitoring and enhancing workplace health and safety;
  • introducing employees to new safety programs, equipment, and safe work practices;
  • promoting and publicizing health and safety issues within their unit.

Committee Membership

Unit administrators are responsible for establishing and supporting safety committees, and members are elected by fellow employees to represent them. In addition, membership includes at least one representative selected by management, but cannot exceed the number of employee-elected members. A safety committee provides representation for each employee within their unit.
Terms of employee-elected members are a maximum of one year. The committee elects a chairperson to guide the meetings. A chairperson serves a maximum term of one year and may be reelected.

Committee Meetings

Safety committees should meet on a regular basis. The committee determines meeting dates, times, and locations. The duration of each meeting may not exceed one hour except by majority vote of the committee.
At these meetings, the committee should first decide upon some objectives, and there should be an agenda to guide the meetings. Agenda items should focus on fulfilling committee responsibilities. The following items should be addressed at each meeting:

  1. Evaluate incident reports, investigation reports, and hazard notifications to determine causes and prevent recurrence;
  2. Evaluate the unit’s accident prevention program and discuss recommendations for improvement;
  3. Review workplace safety inspection reports to identify problems and propose solutions;
  4. Review job procedures and recommend improvements; and
  5. Report progress on safety projects selected by unit supervisor and safety committee members.

Minutes of each meeting should be documented using the form in the Safety Policies and Procedures Manual, or a similar document that covers the same areas. Minutes are kept on file for at least one year. Copies must be provided to the:

  • Department administrator,
  • Environmental Health and Safety,
  • Department employees (by posting minutes on the safety bulletin board and/or distribution to employees), and
  • Employee and management representatives.

Safety Projects

The unit safety committee and administration can also develop safety projects based on unit activities, potential hazards, accident history, and WSU policy requirements. Contact EH&S to identify projects appropriate for your unit. Sample projects include developing an accident prevention program, emergency response plan, standard operating procedures, conducting personal protective equipment hazard assessments and workplace inspections.

Getting Assistance

EH&S representatives are available to attend safety committee meetings to provide training and technical assistance and answer questions. Additional information on safety committees is available in the Safety Policies and Procedures Manual.
EH&S has a variety of written materials, pamphlets, and videotapes that can be utilized by committees.