(1) Except as provided by ARM 24.30.2553, 24.30.2554 and 24.30.2558, every employer that is subject to the requirements of ARM 24.30.2541 must also have a safety committee. If an employer is a party to a collective bargaining agreement that provides for the establishment and operation of a safety committee, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement shall govern the operation of the safety committee, notwithstanding any other provisions of this rule and ARM 24.30.2551, 24.30.2553, 24.30.2554 and 24.30.2558.
(2) The Montana legislature has mandated the formation of safety committees that include representatives of the employer and the employees in order to foster a safety culture in Montana workplaces. It is the intent of the department that employer and employees meet together for the purpose of creating a safety culture in Montana workplaces and reducing on-the-job injuries and illnesses, in the hope that by improving occupational safety, workers' compensation insurance rates for all industries in Montana will be limited. Accordingly, the department is exercising its delegated authority to require that employers form safety committees in order to carry out the statutory duty imposed by 39-71-1505 , MCA.
(3) Federal law prohibits domination of a safety committee by management.
(4) Every safety committee shall:
(a) be composed of employee and employer representatives and hold regularly scheduled meetings, at least once every 4 months. The committee(s) should be of sufficient size and number to provide for effective representation of the workforce. Employers with multiple workplaces may elect to have more than one committee. The safety committee(s) shall:
(i) include in its membership representatives of employees and employer, with employer representatives not exceeding employee representatives; and
(ii) include in its employee membership volunteers or members elected by their peers. Where employees are represented by a labor organization(s) that organization may choose to appoint or conduct elections to select employee members to serve on safety committee(s) ; and
(b) include safety committee activities that assist the employer in fact finding. The department recommends that the committee document its activities (i.e., attendees, subjects discussed) and act as a fact finding body and report to the employer regarding:
(i) assessing and controlling hazards;
(ii) assessing safety training and awareness topics;
(iii) communicating with employees regarding safety committee activities;
(iv) developing safety rules, policies and procedures;
(v) educating employees on safety-related topics;
(vi) evaluating the safety program on a regular basis;
(vii) inspecting the workplace;
(viii) keeping job specific training current;
(ix) motivating employees to create a safety culture in the workplace; and
(x) reviewing incidents of workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses.
(5) In order to promote the purpose of the Montana Safety Culture Act, the department finds that the recommendations of a safety committee are not intended to establish a standard of care or duty owed by the employer to either employees or third persons, and should not be used to establish a standard of care or duty that does not otherwise exist in law.