Have you thought about the value and benefit that a well-run safety meeting can bring to your organization?
There is no other department in your organization that brings together every single staff member as often as a safety meeting does. No one should be exempt from attending safety meetings. Safety applies to everyone. Even the receptionist should be involved in safety meetings.
The purpose of a safety meeting may have started as a legal requirement but have you thought about the value and the huge benefit that a well-run safety meeting can bring to your organization? Let’s start with three benefits that your safety meetings create ... but only if you do them right:
1It’s a tremendous marketing opportunity. Face it, if your people don’t take safety home, then they don't buy-in to safety. They’re simply tolerating rules. When people buy-in to safety, they don’t need to be policed into compliance. They make the right decision when no one else is watching. Like a financial investment, in order to buy-in to safety, they will need to be marketed to. Marketing is simply getting the right information into the hands of the potential buyer so that they can freely make the choice to buy. You are, in essence, selling the safety program and asking your people to buy. There is no better venue to help people buy-in to safety than the safety meeting. Everyone is gathered in the same place at one time, all receiving the same information and watching their fellow co-workers influence their own decisions. If a good portion of employees buy-in to the safety program, those who are sitting on the fence will join. Those who are opposed to getting on-board with safety will soon see how out-of-the-loop they are. People want to belong. Use the safety meeting to market the safety program - and make it a “win” for each employee. Answer the “what is in it for them” by buying-in.
2You build stronger teams. Players who don’t attend and actively participate in team meetings don’t play. Simple huh? Your safety meeting is just like a team meeting in sports. You are putting all of your players on the same page. The job of a baseball manager is not to field the ball, hit the ball or run the bases. The job of the baseball manager is to prepare his players, his team, to field the ball, hit the ball and run the bases. In the same way, the job of a safety manager is to put his players in a position to get on base - safely. Then once on base, give the other players the skills and tools to bring that player home, safely. Everyone working together as a team is how you keep work sites safe. You can’t have just a handful of individuals who are working toward the safety goal while the rest are playing their own game by their own rules. People get hurt that way. Safety is a team sport. Coach your people like professional athletes - don’t lecture them like children. Use your safety meeting as a team-building session.
3You can change the safety culture. If you don’t talk, if you don’t communicate and if you don’t remove ambiguity in your safety program, then you will never get safety buy-in from your people. Safety culture may be influenced by senior management but the true safety culture is determined and carried out at the front line - by the same people attending the safety meeting. If you want to really influence the safety culture of an organization, influence the people attending the safety meeting. If you can get all employees to buy-in to the safety program, you immediately change the safety culture of the company. Rewards and recognition and bonuses are nice, but people don’t buy-in to safety because of trinkets and cash. They only manipulate their behaviors enough to qualify for prizes. But if you can get people to buy-in to safety purely based on the “what’s in it for me” equation being answered, you have them for a long time. Once people buy-in to safety, they won’t ever opt-out of safety. When they buy-in, the safety culture shifts dramatically - whether senior management is on-board or not.
Now, study your own safety meetings. If the way you’re doing safety meetings hasn’t created a landslide of buy-in to the safety program, you should re-consider how you are doing your safety meetings. Get serious. Consider an outside safety resource to get their attention and then work to keep their attention. Buy-in will follow.
Start to love your safety meetings. Turn them into "want-to" attend events instead of "forced-to." Celebrate safety. Make it enjoyable.
Meanwhile, download my free e-book, The Perfect Safety Meeting for ideas and strategies to improve your safety meetings now.
Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of "The Perfect Safety Meeting" and "Running With Scissors - 10 Reasons To Invest in Safety In Slow Times." He is an expert in how to get through to people and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.