Done right, safety meetings are an opportunity to proactively address potential hazards and issues within your organization. And, they’re a highly effective way to foster a culture of safety. Meeting with employees regularly keeps the lines of communication open in both directions.
Most companies are already using safety meetings or toolbox talks as part of their ongoing training efforts. But, as we head into the new year, now is the perfect time to take things a step further by thinking about how you can make your safety meetings more engaging and effective. Here are tips to help supervisors conduct more effective safety meetings and Supervisors will understand the factors involved in conducting an effective safety meeting.
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Planning the Safety Meeting
Several factors must be considered when planning a safety meeting:
Know your audience
To meet the needs of your audience, you need to know who will attend the meeting. Consider the following:
- Experience levels
By recognizing these differences, you can determine the best presentation approach for the meeting.
Length and Frequency of the Meeting
The supervisor must determine how long the workers can be away from the job without seriously disrupting operations. Also, consider the level and detail of the material to be presented and the attention span of the audience. Once safety meetings become an established routine, subsequent meetings become easier to plan and present. The workers will also come to accept safety meetings as part of their job.
Determine the Topic
Topics for safety meetings can be obtained through:
- Observing everyday work practices
- Company safety procedures and guiding regulations
- Company accident and injury reports
- Safety inspection findings and corrective actions
- New equipment installations
- Management directives
Current issues should always be incorporated into the meeting whenever possible.
Type of Meeting to Have
There are two types of safety meetings:
- Formal meetings are planned and scheduled in advance. Workers are notified well in advance of the topics or issues to be addressed. This would be the monthly or quarterly safety meeting.
- Informal or “tailgate” meetings are those “on-the-job” opportunities conducted with the workers just before a job begins. These meetings are 5-10 minutes long and focus on only those safety items that will be encountered during a particular work shift.
Workers who actively participate in solving safety problems have a greater interest in maintaining safe work habits.
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Format of the Meeting
Decide well ahead of time how you want to present your topics to the audience. There are many formats you can use to accomplish this. Some of these include:
- Case study
- Audiovisual (use in conjunction with one of the others or you may give your audience a chance to take a nap)
Follow any of the above with a good closing. This will help you determine if the workers understood the material. Use this time to answer any questions, address any problems and obtain topics for future safety meetings.
Conducting the Safety Meeting
Keep it short and simple. Presenting several short safety meetings is usually more effective than one long and potentially boring one. Avoid lengthy topics that might be more appropriate for a formal training session instead of a safety meeting. Multiple topics should be used only if they are closely related and short in length.
- Begin the meeting with a summary of what you are going to cover and why it is important.
- Present the meeting as an essential part of the company’s safety objectives.
- Keep the tone informal to encourage participation.
- Be as flexible as possible within the limits of your agenda.
- Give examples of safety violations and their consequences.
- Ask for group participation throughout the meeting.
- Summarize at the end of the meeting.
- Announce the date, time, and place of the next safety meeting.
- Always end on a positive note.
By keeping these points in mind, you’ll be focused on the message you want to deliver, and keeping on track will be much easier.
It’s important to keep records of all safety meetings for your reference and as proof for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and any other regulatory agency that might show an interest in your training practices. Sign-in sheets are an easy way to keep track of who has attended the meetings. It should include the date, topic(s), instructor, and list of attendees.
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Follow-up is important. Evaluate your safety meetings on a regular basis to determine what worked and what could be improved. Evaluation of the impact of on-the-job training is equally important. Are the workers using the safety meeting information? Has there been an improvement in safety?
Safety Meeting Checklist
- Has an individual been appointed to be responsible for safety meetings?
- Has it been determined how often and how long formal safety meetings will be conducted?
- Have employees been asked what type of topics they would like to see addressed at safety meetings?
- Has a topic been selected for the next safety meeting?
- Has the date and time of the next meeting been announced?
- Is the meeting room reserved?
- Is audiovisual equipment available if needed?
- Are handouts and evaluation forms prepared?
- Did all employees sign the attendance roster?
- Has the final paperwork been properly filed?
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