Safety meetings: Challenges and considerations
If your organization is looking to implement regular safety and health meetings, some things need to be considered first. Regardless of the size or scope, safety meetings should fit comfortably into workers’ schedules, with the goal of motivating workers to take an interest in safety and health. The National Safety Council notes that safety meetings also should be used to:
- Empower workers to become better problem-solvers and decision-makers.
- Cultivate leadership skills.
- Identify, discuss and correct workplace hazards via job safety analyses and inspections.
- Discuss safety and health procedures and philosophy.
To ensure safety meetings run smoothly and effectively, employee involvement is critical. However, you may face a number of challenges, NSC states, including:
- Employee distrust
- Atmosphere of fear
- Lack of leadership from the top down
- Moving change through too fast
- Too little (or too much) structure
- Poor training
To combat these and other barriers to employee involvement, NSC advises looking for ways to keep workers actively engaged in safety. One way to do this is by recognizing employee contributions in a public way, such as by printing names and achievements in a workplace newsletter or issuing plaques at participation ceremonies. Let workers know their involvement is noted and appreciated.
To prevent a safety meeting from running off track, it is important to have a written agenda highlighting the key points of the meeting. The agenda also should include who will speak when and on what topic. This will help prevent speakers from straying from their designated subject material, NSC states. Practice running through the meeting before it starts so everyone is comfortable.
Additionally, keep the meeting short – a safety meeting should feature a maximum of three ideas. If you try to address too many items, workers will not absorb everything. Meetings should be no longer than 30 minutes and should take place in a comfortable location. Make sure you allow enough time at the end for employees to provide feedback. NSC recommends circulating the meeting agenda in advance to give workers time to think about issues they would like to bring up.