September 2015

Safety Meetings

Safety Meetings Information Training—Why It's Worth It!

Conducting OSHA safety meetings time after time can lose some of the spark as an effective training tool. We've all been to safety meetings that missed the mark—topics were not pertinent, sessions ran too long, disorganization ruled—and we’ve seen safety training forgotten as soon as the meeting was over.

How can we avoid safety meetings that don't work? What can we do to get the most effective training for the time, energy, and dollars spent in safety training? 

We talked with directors of safety programs at large and small companies that have been awarded OSHA “Star” status for their outstanding safety and health achievements, and several successful tactics for running safety meetings emerged:

  • Carefully time the length of meetings. If you hold meetings once a month, keep the length at 30-45 minutes; once a week, keep it 30 minutes or less with 20 minutes as the ideal length. The longest meetings should run no more than an hour.
  • For construction work, have short, informal tailgate safety meetings of 5, 10, or 15 minutes before work once a week, with a longer talk at least once a month or at the start of each phase of the construction project.
  • Schedule topics over a long period—a year is most common. The schedule provides reasonable deadlines for the trainer and helps others plan their working days.
  • Select meeting topics on the basis of 1) a review of the most recent types of accidents and near-accidents, 2) related corporate safety goals, 3) any particular subjects that need to be covered from a legal or insurance standpoint, and 4) your basic list of safety topics to be reviewed.
  • Occasionally, have the senior management person at the location open the meeting and sit in—it’s a sign of commitment.

Why Are Safety Meetings Important?

Without constant reminders about safety, we tend to forget, get sloppy, take risks, and have accidents. Safety meetings are a great refresher, and keep your organization
abreast of changes in the regulations, safety procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), and job assignments and responsibilities. Refresher training is also sometimes required by law, and having a pre-planned weekly meeting is a convenient way to go over required training.

Avoid Complacency

Safety meetings provide a chance to present new safety training and information. They also offer a chance for workers to review previously learned information. Without safety meetings, workers can be lulled by routines and slowly decrease their alertness and attention to safety as they perform the same tasks day after day. They benefit from being reminded how to stay safe and why safety methods are needed.

Prevent Accidents

Awareness of risks reduces accidents. Preventing on-the-job accidents benefits companies and employees financially. Managers, health and safety officers, compliance officers and trainers plan and conduct safety meetings to draw attention to areas of risk. These professionals decide which information to share and how to present the information in the most effective format to prevent accidents in the workplace. Usually, they also design a follow-up activity or instrument that measures employee retention of safety information from the meeting.

Evaluate Risk

Safety meetings review recent incidents that affected worker health and safety and use the information to update existing safety plans and procedures to reduce or eliminate recurrences. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or another regulatory agency may require an only an employer to review workplace accidents and illnesses, employers benefit from the viewpoints of all employees in safety meetings and should publicize the meetings on organizational websites, through staff email, in newsletters and in posters in the workplace.

Correct The Action

For safety meetings, employers need an established hazardous identification process that a committee can use to adopt new policies and procedures. It's important for the safety meeting to include a group of people who have learned to collaborate and communicate effectively and who can address appropriate issues and take corrective actions. Management implements the committee’s recommendations by updating organization wide policies and procedures and training employees on any new information.

Well, I hope you found this edition of G&G Risk management safety news letter educational. Please feel free to comment on what other topics of safety you would like to see. In the meantime be safe and remember….Short cuts cut lives short.