Do your employees complain that weekly safety meetings are a “waste of time”? Meetings don’t have to be a bore. When they’re conducted properly, even inattentive groups perk up and listen. What’s more, their safety record improves.
If you want to hold engaging and memorable safety meetings, you have to put in some time and planning. Preparation is the key to good safety meetings.
- Select an appropriate topic. Focus on a current problem, an incident, new hazards or equipment, revised procedures, etc.
- Write down your goals. Unless you have a definite idea of what you want to achieve in the meeting, both you and those attending might be disappointed with the result.
- Decide what information you want to present. Remember, safety meetings should focus on a limited amount of information. It’s better to give employees 3 things they’ll remember than a dozen they’ll forget.
- Get creative. Whenever possible, use visual aids or handouts. Try especially to involve all your workers’ senses. For example, bring in a prop they can feel, such as a damaged tool that is unsafe or a hazardous chemical bottle that is missing a label. Demonstrate the effectiveness of a steel-toed shoe by dropping a weight on it. Or have employees pair off and do an activity, such as a joint lift of a heavy object.
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EXAMPLE: At one company, meetings revolve around slides that are taken of different areas in the worksite. Employees are encouraged to shout out any hazards they see as the slides click by. This technique encourages and trains employees to continuously look out for hazards at their job.
While conducting your weekly safety meetings, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to sell the benefits of safety—for example, avoiding injury, keeping healthy, keeping the paychecks coming.
Point out that some safety techniques can also be used off the job and help employees protect their families and homes.
Good safety practices can also save money, and that makes the organization more competitive and more profitable, which means greater job security for workers.
When meetings are interactive, employees participate and learn—and they’re more likely to remember when they get back on the job. So think of every angle to get them involved. For example:
- Take a poll, asking, "How many of you have ever been in an accident?" Or "How many have experienced such and such a problem?" Or your could ask, "Why is this procedure or practice necessary? How will it make you safer?"
- Have some kind of competition. For instance, for a meeting about PPE, you could have employees bring in their equipment and conduct a contest to see who has the cleanest, best maintained equipment. Or take a picture of a work area where you’ve staged a number of hazards, some fairly obvious and others harder to spot. Ask meeting participants to identify as many hazards as they can find in a couple of minutes.
- Focus on safety problems. Ask workers to describe specific safety problems they are having and get the group to suggest solutions.
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When you wrap up the meeting, review all your main points. Plan an upbeat ending that leaves your audience with a joke or story they will remember.
Then give them a quick quiz to see how much information they retained. This feedback will help you plan your next meeting. You can also use the tests as documentation that training has occurred.
Finally, thank employees for attending the safety meeting, and let them know you expect them to consistently carry out the ideas you just presented.