Departmental Safety Committees

Safety Resources encourages the activity of departmental (or smaller) safety committees that hold regular meetings to address health and safety issues in their own workplace. Many safety issues can often be addressed within a working group and larger issues (that cannot be resolved) can be communicated to the appropriate Local Safety Committee to try to reach a resolution.


Departmental (or working group) safety committees should consist of:

  • Department Head or Principal Investigator or a designate 
  • Notetaker (someone designate to take meeting minutes)
  • Management representation (coordinators, lab managers, etc.)
  • Worker representation (technicians, grad students, etc.)


Safety meetings should be held:

  • Weekly, for high risk working groups
    • e.g. trades; travelling / fieldwork; working with high hazard substances
  • Monthly, for moderate-to-high risk activities
    • e.g. labs working with chemicals / biologicals / nuclear substances; industrial kitchens
  • Quarterly (every 3 months), for low-to-moderate risk activities
    • e.g. working with natural samples (uncontaminated water / soil / rocks) and working in environmental chambers
  • Semi-annually (twice a year), for low risk activities
    • e.g. office work


Common topics include:

  • Ensuring safety training for new employees / students
  • Identifying hazards and reducing exposure to known risks
  • Developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • Developing emergency protocols
  • Creating and updating fieldwork safety plans
  • Scheduling and conducting workplace inspections
  • Discussing laboratory and office ergonomics


Resources to help conduct your own departmental safety meetings:

Contact our Safety Management System team for more information and resources that you can use support your own departmental safety committee.