In 2016, 5,190 workers were killed on the job.
We’ll give that a moment to sink in.
While this statistic can be sobering, take heart. Workplace safety topics are a top priority for discussion in 2018. Even though the recent data shows a very slight uptick in fatalities over the last decade, businesses are focusing on how to prevent these types of injuries.
While fatalities will never be completely eradicated from the workplace, we can all be vigilant with our efforts to make the workplace safer. And although it seems self explanatory, the best way to raise awareness on these topics is to talk about them.
But what is the best way to talk about them? We’re all so busy with our responsibilities that it can be tough to take time out of our busy days for meetings that seem pointless.
That thought process begs the question:
“If talking about safety is pointless, why are people still getting hurt?”
In this article, we’d like to highlight the best way to talk about workplace safety topics. We feel that the best way to talk about workplace safety is to make it a part of your company’s meeting structure. This way we can bring it up with all team members present. We can address any discrepancies so the team can get back to their work.
Effective communication about workplace safety topics happens best when four things a prioritized. We’ll dive into those four points here, with the goal of encouraging you and your team to have the important conversations.
Talk about workplace safety frequently
We’ve already established that talking about workplace safety topics are critical. When teams engage in various workplace safety topics, everyone in the company wins.
But how often should you be discussing these topics? The answer depends.
Unless you work in a dangerous work environment, surrounded by hazards, daily meetings to address workplace safety topics are overkill You’ll feel as if you can’t accomplish anything because you’re interrupting every day for mostly pointless meetings.
The sweet spot might be to hold a weekly safety meeting. Meetings held at this frequency give your team a chance to think back over a longer period of time about accidents that have happened. Having this time allows employees to think about how they can contribute to a productive meeting and help make their workplace safer.
If safety meetings are held even less frequently, say once a month, it’s possible that topics will be forgotten. Too much time between meetings could also give the impression that safety is not a priority at your company. If you don’t care enough about safety to talk about it more than once a month, how much do you care about your team?
That last example might be a bit of a stretch, but don’t take this topic for granted. Devote the time to talk about how your team can stay safe at work and you’ll solidify the trust everyone has in you.
Now that you know you need to talk about workplace safety topics regularly, let’s look at how to fit in safety meetings in to your week.
Separate the workplace safety meeting from all other meetings
The value of this tip should not be overlooked.
Meeting heads and leaders might determine that talking about safety for 5 minutes at the end of a weekly sales meeting will suffice.
Sorry. That won’t cut it.
If you want your team to take workplace safety seriously, why would you only devote 5 minutes to the topic? Especially after everyone has been in a meeting for 30-50 minutes talking about other concerns! It’s crazy to think you’re doing the subject of workplace safety any justice by only glazing it over for 5 minutes at the end of another meeting.
To get serious about this topic, start having a separate meeting devoted to workplace safety topics. Setting aside this specific time shows your team that you care about their safety. The separate meeting also allows your team to stay focused on safety initiatives related to work. With the separate meeting, no one can get distracted with customer service issues, operational setbacks or other unrelated problems.
Establish a clear and concise format for the workplace safety meeting
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to communicate well with your team to begin with. Meetings are meant for important information to be shared with everyone. They’re not meant to distract from the rest of the work day. They’re a critical part of it.
Instead of letting your safety meeting get derailed before it’s begun with water-cooler talk, start planning beforehand how the meeting should go. Are you going to give everyone a chance to contribute to the meeting? If so, is everyone on the team prepared to communicate well?
The point of considering these things isn’t to make sure you talk for the entire meeting to keep it on task. The point is to think about how to add the most value to the meeting so your team can get the information it needs.
If members of your team are in a better position to contribute to the meeting, let them. An example might be when an accident occurs on a job site and you weren’t there. Would it make more sense for you to review the details of the accident with your team? Or for your foreman who was present to do it?
Your job is not to give all the details in the meeting. Your job is to help the meeting so everyone walks away more aware of their responsibilities about workplace safety.
Add an element of fun to your workplace safety meeting
The simplest definition of the word meeting is “lacking in fun”. When you think of how bad some meetings can be, it might even make you cry.
It’s even worse when you need to have a meeting on an important but dry topic like workplace safety. Just thinking about briefing my team on the importance of high visibility fabric and why it’s good for their workwear is making me yawn.
So how can you spice up your workplace safety meeting with your team?
For starters, we recommend donuts. Lots of donuts.
Seriously. Who doesn’t want free donuts?
Another idea could be to come up with some form of rewards for practicing safe work habits. Extra time off, special recognition in front of their peers or clothing giveaways are all great ideas to start.
If you see someone on your team wearing their flame resistant clothing the correct way while on site, pull them aside and point it out. Make it obvious that you see their efforts and they’re not going unnoticed. You can even do it at the next workplace safety meeting in front of the whole group. They’ll appreciate the recognition taking place in front of everyone else.
Another item you could giveaway is some piece of decorated apparel. Everyone loves getting free clothing. When you see them working in a safe way alongside their coworkers, reward them by ordering something they’d want. Make sure to ask them their size so they know they’re not getting something that’s leftover. It will mean so much more for them to get something for being proactive, especially if they can actually wear it and will like it.
If your team starts realizing that people get rewarded at meetings for doing their job, you’ll have participation and buy-in increase. After some time, workplace safety meetings will be the hot ticket in the company.
So there you have it. These are simple yet profound ways to address workplace safety topics in meetings. Following these concepts as a guide on how to run your safety meetings should prove worthwhile. But these shouldn’t be considered the only options. What other ways can you think of? What other ways are already working for you in your company? We’d love to hear them.