It’s many a supervisor’s dread: The Safety Talk.
Call it a safety meeting, toolbox talk, or huddle, it's designed to keep safety top of mind. But, it can become an empty ritual when your managers or supervisors merely go through the motions. The most important thing you can do to make safety meetings meaningful is to keep it real.
Many times when we hold a safety meeting our employees have already checked out. They've heard countless canned safety "talks" and seen enough boring safety videos to expect 30 minutes of mind-numbing statistics and warnings.
You've got to make it real, but how?
Here are 4 tips to make the safety meeting more than empty words:
Don't Hold a 'Safety' Meeting
Instead, weave the safety message into your regular operations meetings.
For example, if you're receiving a shipment this week, make sure to discuss dock safety while you’re discussing the plans for where to locate the new stock.
If contract welders will be working onsite soon, share the safety rules for contractors and a brief overview of welding safety.
Tie your safety message to your regular operations to keep employees engaged and their safety awareness up.
Keep it Short
Your employees have been through the required safety training, so use your safety meetings to shore up this training, not repeat it in its entirety. Pick a topic and select 2 or 3 key points to drive home. If you need ideas for specific topics, check out an alphabetical index of topics at the OSHA.gov website: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/text_index.html.
Remember to tie your topic to what's happening in your operations to keep employees' attention.
Make it Personal
After sharing a few safety recommendations/reminders, ask your employees for their experiences.
Have they or someone they've known suffered an injury related to your safety topic? Ask them how the injury could have been avoided. How would they advise an employee about this kind of risk?
If you can get a few minutes of discussion around a safety topic, you will greatly increase employees' retention of the safety takeaway.
Make it Consistent
Build your safety talks into regular operations meetings.
If your organization has a daily pre-shift meeting, put safety topics in there. If you have a weekly operations meeting, weave safety topics into it.
If you make safe operations a regular discussion topic, your employees will begin to understand that safety is the way you do business and not simply a compliance goal.
Safety talks should not be a scripted monologue where employees just stare at the top of their supervisor's hard hat while he or she reads aloud. Safety talks should be part of the regular operations discussion. Keep them short, punchy, and personal to keep safety at the forefront of your team’s thoughts and performance.
Loss Control Representative