July 09, 2020

How to Organize Your Health and Safety Committee

Source:  NYSUT Program Services
health and safety

Organize your committee

NYSUT is committed to ensuring that our collective voice is heard on all issues related to the health and safety of our school communities. One way this can be done is by working with our schools to establish effective health and safety committees.

We encourage you to review this how-to guide (PDF) to learn more about best practices and what the state law requires.

If you have questions or need support, contact NYSUT’s health and safety specialist, Patricia Geisel at Patricia.Geisel@nysut.org.

Why create a Health and Safety Committee?

Under state law, Health and Safety Committees are required for all New York State public schools. Ideally, nonpublic schools also create these committees.

Fully developed and efficiently functioning Health and Safety Committees are integral to responding to and preventing environmental health concerns in schools.

While other state-mandated committees address concerns related to actions and interactions of students, staff and parents, Health and Safety Committees focus on the actual physical environment of school buildings.

Health and Safety Committees comprise stakeholders from a variety of organizations, occupations and positions in a school’s greater community. This cross-agency team helps develop, direct, support and implement environmental health programs in schools. The law requires union participation.

Effective Health and Safety Committees can help schools achieve better student attendance, fewer nurse’s office visits, improved student and staff health, increased staff productivity and retention, stronger academic performances and cost savings.

Health and Safety Committees:

  • Required for all public schools under NYS law
  • Prevent and address environmental health concerns
  • Cross-agency team, with union participation required
  • Many benefits for students and staff

Table of Contents

  • New York State Law Requiring Health and Safety Committees in Schools Establishing a Health and Safety Committee
  • Regulation Requirements
  • Committee Recommendations
  • Committee Duties
  • Health and Safety Committee Talking Points
  • Recommended Actions
  • Prevent Pests and Reduce Pesticide Use and Exposure through Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Prevent Mold and Moisture Issues
  • Reduce Chemical and Environmental Hazards
  • Practice Effective Cleaning and Maintenance: Green Cleaning
  • Ensure Good Ventilation
  • Developing School Environmental Health Goals and Objectives
  • Tools for Effective and Efficient Health and Safety Committees
  • Additional Resources
  • References