Any safety meeting, large or small, must start with two basic purposes: to get your employees’ attention and their participation.
My newest book (in e-Book format), The Perfect Safety Meeting, is being downloaded around the world. Since safety never seems to get a big budget for learning and development, I made the e-Book free.
The purpose of the book was to help safety managers and safety committees with organizing a large-scale safety day or stand-down. There are a lot of differences between organizing a toolbox/tailgate meeting and a stand-down. Safety managers may be good at toolbox talks but a big scale event is something completely different.
Fly-by safety meetings (in work clothes in dirty back shops) give the impression that safety is not important enough to make a big deal of it. If it’s not big deal in the eyes of management, it won’t be a big deal in the eyes of employees. Make a fuss over them in safety and don’t be surprised when your people step up.
Any safety meeting, large or small, must start with two basic purposes: to get your employees’ attention and their participation. The smaller the safety meeting, the easier it is to get attention and participation.
Here are three strategies to increase the engagement and participation at your safety meetings with the result of more safety buy-in from your people:
1Get your people off-site - even for an hour or two to hold your monthly safety meeting. This part gets their attention. Find a meeting space for a breakfast event. It should be easy for groups of 20-50 people. Make your safety meeting an event instead of a legal requirement. If you want to balk and say that buying your people breakfast once a month is too much money, I will show you a group of employees who feel that the company doesn’t value them? People get pumped up about events and perceive them differently than regular safety meetings.
Since you’re putting your people in front of the public at a meeting facility, make sure you inform them that dirty work clothes and coveralls will not be permitted. Make them show up clean and laundered. Meeting in public gives you a chance to fly the company flag and to make a statement of being proud of safety.
2Host themed safety meetings - appropriate to either weather, production increases or the types of work based on time-of-year. Or perhaps you might just want to theme your months: December - back safety, January - Slips/Trips, etc. You can also invite presenters even on a small-scale basis. But make sure they keep to the theme only. Keep it focused. Keep it tight. But most of all, make sure you ask your people to think about how they can incorporate the information they learned in their everyday work. This part is critical. If you don't ask them to digest the information and think about how they can utilize it, they won't and you will have wasted your time. This is the first part of getting them to participate.
However you do it, get them to take some notes, to remember what they've learned, to think about how they can use the information and to get them to internalize it.
3Turn your safety meetings into brain-storming, problem-solving events. Find a safety issue that keeps coming up and ask your people to brainstorm some ideas - working in groups of 5 or so. Get each group to offer ideas/suggestions. Get them working together at your safety meetings - not just showing up and sitting through it. Make it constructive. Let them solve the very issues they are creating. When people are tasked with finding their own solutions to problems, they are more likely to own safety. After all, it was their idea.
Re-brand your safety meetings from fly-by preaching sessions held in dirty back shops to problem-solving, participative strategy sessions in public meeting facilities. Watch how the perception of safety begins to transform.
Once you start doing these things in your small-scale monthly safety meetings, you will see how you can scale down the other ideas in The Perfect Safety Meeting e-Book.
Feel free to invite others to download The Perfect Safety Meeting e-Book. And if you are hosting a larger-scale safety event soon, please consider me as your closing speaker for the event. Check out the first 8 minutes of my safety keynote presentation on video.