3 Ways to Make Safety Meetings Matter

Are you meeting the needs of your people in safety meetings?

How many times have you seen presenters, with 10 minutes of solid information, stretch it into a 90-minute presentation? How does that happen? Here’s how. The person organizing the safety meeting is trying to fill blocks of time instead of developing content that will make a difference to their people.

I can’t tell you then number of phone calls I’ve taken in the last 20 years that started with, "we have an hour to fill in our meeting schedule, could you speak to us for an hour?"

If you've got an hour to fill and you’re just looking for some safety-related person to fill that time slot, you should ask yourself whether you're actually addressing any of the issues that affect your people? 

The safety meeting is an opportunity to get the right information into the hands of people who face the danger at the front-line. But, most times it is squandered in cutting and pasting directly from the Safety Code. Or, to hire someone to come in and talk about whatever they want to talk about. Even if it has little connection to what you might be trying to do. Or a problem that you need to solve.

So, here are three things you can do to ensure that you are connected to meeting the needs of your people in safety meetings:

1Ask the right questions. If you’re not asking the right questions of safety presenters, you’re getting what they want to say, not what you need saying. If you’re just hoping that an outside resource can show up and talk about anything safety-related for an hour or so, you’re focused on filling time in a meeting, not on ensuring that your people have the right tools to do their jobs.

2What needs addressing? Just by asking this question of yourself, you will be better-focused on finding out what your people need to be able to do their jobs better and safer. If someone can say something in ten minutes that helps your people perform better in safety, then why would you look for someone else to speak longer than that. Figure out what you need done or addressed.

3Choose deliverables over schedule. Select your presenters and topics based on deliverables, not the amount of time in a schedule. Never look at a safety meeting and organize it in blocks of time to fill. Focus on outcomes and deliverables: what could you be giving to your people that will help them do the work better and safer?

And here’s a strategy that can help you to really get your people the right information in an expedient manner: ask your presenters how much time they will need and shorten it by another 15 minutes. Force them to get to the meat of the message. Force them to dump the gratuitous injury photos, the charts and graphs and the videos of cats in tutus. (Don’t laugh. This happens way more than you think.)

Don’t make the speaker add filler and fluff to stretch it out to a 90-minute presentation just because you've scheduled ninety minutes. You're better off giving your people a one-hour break after a riveting 30-minute presentation to give your meeting attendees some time to discuss what was said. And to brainstorm among themselves how they might use the information practically. Then ask them to publicly give feedback on what they heard.

You tell a speaker that the audience if going to meet and then give feedback on their presentation, and they will give you their best stuff.

In the same way you would protect your employees from physical harm, you must protect them from information overload. Shorten it up. No one ever felt cheated that the safety meeting was too short. Make meetings matter.

Learn more strategies to improve safety. Put Kevin Burns' expertise to work in your organization. Whether it's for a one-day safety event or training/facilitation session, or perhaps Kevin's 90-Day Safety Accelerator program and the One-Year Safety Culture Shift program. There is a program that can work for you, your front-line crews, your management team, your safety committee and your supervisors.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, speaker/facilitator and author of PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety. He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work.

Get details and more information http://www.kevburns.com/contact

Topics: safety leadership, safety meeting, safety buy-in, safety communications, peoplework, safety complacency