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Keywords:

  • health and safety committees;
  • safety programs;
  • management support;
  • worker involvement;
  • injury and illness rates

Abstract

Background

Although perhaps the most common worker-management structure, there has been surprisingly little research on describing and evaluating the characteristics of health and safety committees.

Methods

A survey of 380 health and safety committee members from 176 manufacturing workplaces was supplemented with administrative data and compared with reported workers' compensation rates. Survey respondents also reported perceptions of overall safety, committee, effectiveness, committee activities, and “best practices.”

Results

Extensive descriptive data is presented, including a mean of 8.7 members per committee spending 1,167 hr per year on committee business for an estimate of $40,500 worth of time per committee. Higher speed to correct action items, a focus on ergonomics, and planning for safety training was associated with lower injury rates. The discrepancy between managers and hourly committee members in estimating overall safety was strongly positively associated with injury rates.

Conclusions

Communications and worker involvement may be important to address discrepancy issues. Prospective studies are needed to distinguish directionality of associations. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:163–179, 2013. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.