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Did You Know? A Safety Committee or Safety Meeting is Required in Washington State

Are you aware that the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) requires you to have either a safety committee or a regular safety meeting, depending on the number of employees you have? WAC 296-800-130 clearly identifies this requirement.

If you have 11 or more employees on the same shift in the same location, you must establish a safety committee, which consists of representatives elected by employees as well as members selected by the employer. There are other requirements for a safety committee that are clearly outlined in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC). The committee itself can determine how often, when, and where it will meet.

If you have a smaller staff, or one that is dispersed by location or working different shifts, you may choose to have either a safety meeting or a safety committee. All employees and at least one management person participate in the safety meeting, which must be held at least monthly. Again, the WAC sets out all the requirements for the safety meeting.

Both safety meetings and safety committees should be documented as specified, with formal minutes for the committee and a notation of subjects discussed for the safety meeting. The mandate (taken directly from the WAC) is for the safety meeting or the safety committee to do the following:

  • Review safety and health inspection reports to help correct safety hazards.
  • Evaluate the accident investigations conducted since the last meeting to determine if the cause(s) of the unsafe situation was identified and corrected.
  • Evaluate your workplace accident and illness prevention program and discuss recommendations for improvement, if needed.

Some useful tasks for these groups might include:

  • Checking the first aid kit(s) at the workplace on a regular basis, discarding expired items and adding useful and fresh items, and ensuring that the kit is easy to identify and find.
  • Making sure that each employee has a working flashlight and, preferably, a small emergency kit.
  • Participating in developing and reviewing the safety and security plans that are required by accreditation for Community Sexual Assault Programs.
  • Assisting in developing workplace violence policies and procedures, along with trainings on these topics.
  • Organizing fire drills and earthquake drills.
  • Identifying any other likely hazards based on your location and disseminating useful information about them (such as flood preparation or tsunami evacuation information).
  • Doing an office "walk-through" of the interior and exterior of the office to determine whether there are any hazardous situations, such as tripping dangers caused by electric cords, items left on stairways, buckled carpets, or uneven sidewalks.
  • Sending out information and reminders to staff about health and safety topics such as flu shots, careful hand washing during cold season, winter driving safety, and earthquake safety.
  • Working with management to provide first aid and CPR training for staff.
  • Reviewing policies and procedures related to safety and illness prevention and making recommendations for change, if indicated.
  • Offering information to employees about ergonomic workstations that can reduce physical strain.

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Reviewed: November 19th, 2015