According to the International Labour Organization, an agency of the United Nations, every day people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases. This is more than 2.78 million deaths annually.

And each year 317 million accidents occur on the job.

Preventing injuries and deaths at places of employment is a goal of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which takes place on April 28. Held in conjunction with the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers — organized worldwide by the trade union movement — the World Day for Safety and Health at Work is an international campaign to promote safe and healthy workplaces.

Velsoft Training Materials’ course — Safety in the Workplace — recommends creating a safety committee as a first step toward making places of work safer.

How to establish a safety committee that gets results:

  • Have representatives from all areas: Ensure that all departments and all levels of employees are included. The size of the committee will depend on the size and layout of the organization.
  • Choose positive people: Make sure safety committee members are already positive, safety-oriented people.
  • Obtain buy-in and commitment: A safety committee should be encouraged to set goals, mission, and areas of responsibility themselves, with some input from executives.
  • Provide resources: Make the safety committee’s job as easy as possible. Provide them with resources necessary to start developing a safety culture, such as training, resource materials, and a comfortable place to meet.
  • Consider a steering committee: A steering committee should be made up mostly of executives and managers, with a liaison member on both committees. The steering committee can act as a mentor for the safety committee, providing guidance and resources.
  • Be clear: Before the safety committee’s first meeting, the company’s executives need to decide what issues will be addressed. Do not hand them a safety manual and walk away. Examples of possible tasks:
    • Assisting with developing a safety training program
    • Identifying ways to reduce warehouse accidents
    • Developing a policy for reviewing safety procedures

The ILO reminds us that it’s every worker’s responsibility to help stop workplace injuries and deaths from occurring.

“As governments we are responsible for providing the infrastructure — laws and services — necessary to ensure that workers remain employable and that enterprises flourish; this includes the development of a national policy and program and a system of inspection to enforce compliance with occupational safety and health legislation and policy. As employers we are responsible for ensuring that the working environment is safe and healthy. As workers we are responsible to work safely and to protect ourselves and not to endanger others, to know our rights and to participate in the implementation of preventive measures.”

With health and safety in the spotlight as the World Day for Safety and Health at Work takes place this week, consider creating a safety committee if you don’t already have one, along with other ways you can make your workplace safer.