Workplace Safety Meetings: How To Engage Employees Better

October 8, 2021

Workplace safety meetings are great opportunity for coworkers to discuss safety issues at work, whether it’s dealing with workplace hazards or engaging in healthy work practices.

In 10 minutes it may seem hard to go into detail about some of the most important issues, but there are many options for what to discuss in your meeting.

Consider covering a few topics rather than going into depth on any one subject.

OSHA regulations stipulate that at least once per year, employers should provide workers with information and training regarding health and safety practices and procedures.

This is known as a toolbox talk or workplace safety moment.

The topic can be related to one of these examples or the meeting can center around anything safe work practices related; for example: tarp safety , cell phone usage, lifting equipment, etc…

As an employer you have two primary responsibilities when conducting your yearly meetings:

1) Inform employees about workplace hazards.

2) Ask each workers to assess their own safety behaviors and safety concerns.

Leaders should strive to create these moments as safe as possible, with no surprises for the attendees.

A few key elements will ensure a positive experience for all:

  • Get in touch with every worker that might be attending well in advance of your meeting and ask them what they would like to discuss. Share any info you have, such as power point templates or visual aids, so they can prepare on their end as well .
  • Ensure everyone has plenty of time to arrive at the meeting location before it begins. Allow people if needed an opportunity for bathroom breaks , nourishment and last minute prep before formalities begin .
  • Start the meeting on time and be brief. It is much better to have an efficient meeting then a late one.
  • Stay within your allotted time frame and try not to go over by a few minutes. If you are running short of time, skip some initial activities that might seem superfluous .
  • End with closure thanking everyone for showing up, apologizing if something has gone wrong during the process or inspection and ask workers to anonymously submit feedback about how well (or not so well) things went.

Engaging Employees In Safety Meetings

Encourage people to talk about their own experiences in regards to workplace safety issues, hazards or concerns they may have encountered on their last job sites or at home . Have them share preventative measures they have used when dealing with safety hazards.

If your employees tend to be shy during meetings, consider the following ideas:

1) Ask each participant to write a few sentences or paragraphs about workplace safety related topics before attending your meeting. This way, workers can focus on sharing their thoughts and then participate in the discussion .

2) Consider having one of your coworkers read aloud an anonymous submission from a previous meeting that best matches what is being discussed at hand.

3) Encourage workers to raise their hand or speak up if they have something to contribute.

Basic Tips For Running A Great Safety Meeting

Use A Template

Before each meeting, create a standard template that includes the meeting time , date and location; your name with phone number in case attendees need to reach you for any reason; the topic of discussion; and any other information relevant (for example: No Cell Phones policy).

Set aside 2 minutes at the end of your meetings to allow everyone present an opportunity to anonymously share feedback with you about how well things went.

Collect this information on small post its, then leave them in a designated spot so people can take one as they exit . Once you’ve collated all of these comments, review them together and make a list of actions you will implement at the next meeting in order to gain higher attendance and more positive feedback.

Set The Expectation

As the host or leader, be sure to give opening remarks about why you are holding this meeting , what is expected of participants and how much time you have available. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 1 hour, let folks know.

Avoid vague statements like “I expect everyone here to participate” as this can lead some shy workers into feeling that they need to say something even if it isn’t relevant just out of fear.. Encourage people only to share relevant information .

Have A Clear Agenda

If there is an agenda (and not all meetings require one), announce when each item on said agenda will be discussed, who is responsible for sharing the information and how much time you have allotted to each discussion point.

Make Everyone Feel Welcomed

Make it a priority that all workers attending are made to feel welcome. If people aren’t comfortable in the room or with talking openly about workplace safety, chances are they won’t return for follow up meetings.

By asking their thoughts well in advance and encouraging them to speak freely during your discussions, participants will feel engaged and invested in meeting outcomes.

Use Visual Aids

Use visual aids when needed (power points , pictures, videos etc.) but avoid using too many as this can make some folks feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable.

Visuals should only be used if they help facilitate communication between attendees or help illustrate what you are trying to say.

Speak Clearly

Speak in a clear and confident manner with good eye contact.

A great way to practice this at home before a meeting is to record yourself using your phone while discussing a workplace safety topic and then listen back afterwards.

You will hear how you sound and see if there are ways you can improve your tone or volume, for example.

Be Flexible

If something comes up during the course of the meeting that requires everyone’s immediate undivided attention (for example: A leak has been detected in your boiler room ), be sure to stop everything that is being discussed and deal with it as soon as possible.

Encourage Discussion Regardless If There’s A Meeting

Don’t make workers feel like they only need to talk during designated discussion periods. Encourage people to share information before or after a meeting as well, if that is best suited for their contribution.

Start and end on time

If you can , avoid starting meetings late to give everyone present 2 minutes to review an agenda and jot down some thoughts about the topics discussed prior to entering the room (this helps set the stage for them to be more comfortable speaking up).

Remain positive

People will want to come back if you listen intently , recognize their contributions during discussions and thank all attendees once your meetings are over.

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