When it comes to workplace safety, there is no better time to promote new ideas or reinforce safe working habits than in a safety meeting. However, we often see small business owners asking how to make their safety meetings more effective. It’s important that owners, managers and employees don’t think of safety meetings as a waste of time. Here are some simple steps that you can take to ensure all your safety meetings moving forward are a success!
Step 1: Preparation
The safety meeting might be led by the business owner, the safety director, the site supervisor, the HR manager or someone else the company has designated as the best person for the job. If the person leading the safety meeting isn’t prepared then the attendees won’t take the message seriously.
Make sure the word gets out. Email, Calendar Invites, Text Messages, a poster on the bulletin board… whatever is the best communication method for your teams. Send out reminders the day before and have shift supervisors or the foreman remind teams when the next mandatory safety meeting will be held.
Set the objective of your safety meeting and make it clear when you send out the meeting invitation and again at the opening of the safety meeting. For example: During this meeting, we are going to learn how to complete a ladder inspection checklist and understand the requirements for completing ladder inspections.
Tip: Keep meetings to 20 minutes or less. Any more than that and the attention and focus is going to drop the longer the meeting drags on. As you prepare for the meeting ensure that you are getting to the point quickly and hitting the key points you need the team to remember.
Step 2: Timing
Put yourself in the shoes of the employees. After a long day at work would you really pay attention to a safety meeting, and then would you retain that information for the next day on the job when you need it? Depending on the work environment, the shift schedules, and the location of the employees, plan the location, length and timing of the safety meeting so that the employees are most engaged during that time. At the beginning of every shift or at the start of the work day is a great time to host safety meetings to get crews into the right mindset for the day.
Tip: A routine sets expectations, so a regular schedule for safety meetings works well for most companies. Monday and Friday tend to be days that most take as a personal day if needed, so consider a mid-week schedule like every Wednesday morning, the first Thursday of every month, or every other Tuesday.
Step 3: Delivery
The topic of the safety meeting should be relevant and a discussion is more likely to engage your team rather than a lecture-style meeting. You won’t see the best results if you’re just reading from a sheet of paper like a robot. The more visuals you can provide, the better so consider incorporating photos, charts, videos, or a hands-on demonstration into the safety meeting. (See our 10 free sample topics for some great ideas!) The more senses that you can engage, the more likely it is that the message will stick. If you can bring your team into the meeting so they really feel a part of it, the results you see will be much stronger. As you enter the room, open conversations with people for the first couple of minutes to promote a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
Throughout the meeting or at the end, allow time for questions and discussion. The safety meeting leader doesn’t have to be the one to answer all the questions, let veteran employees give feedback or tell stories based on their experiences if questions come up that they can answer.
Tip: Start on time and end on time (or better yet, end early!) Employees have a job to do and they are expected to complete their tasks whether they are allowed enough time or not. Those in attendance will appreciate it when you acknowledge that their time is valuable.
Step 4: Follow-up
Consider asking for feedback at the end of or after each meeting. Be open to suggestions for improvement and solicit safety meeting topics from the team. If it was their idea and it’s important to them then they will be more likely to be engaged at the next meeting.
Tip: After the safety meeting, consider a follow-up to reinforce the message. For example, this could be an email listing the key points of the meeting, a safety reminder posted on the bulletin board or a message that promotes safety that comes directly from upper management.
Safety meetings are important, valuable and productive if you just follow a few key steps to communicate, engage and deliver a message that is relevant to the employees.
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