No matter the workplace, safety is key. But in order for employees to understand safety measures, they have to be taught.
There’s some belief that a safety meeting is sitting employees in front of a television and watching a safety video, but it’s just part of the puzzle. While a video can support a training session, it shouldn’t be the only part.
Remember, the primary objective of a safety meeting is to convince your employees to follow safe work practices or procedures. While the meeting may help fulfill an OSHA requirement, or help reduce accidents, all too often the message isn’t communicated effectively. With proper organization, you can prevent that from happening.
Planning the safety meeting
The first step in planning a safety meeting is setting an objective. Think about why it’s needed and what you want to accomplish. By reviewing accident records, you can identify problem areas and any safety topics to discuss.
Next, analyze your audience. Is the meeting intended for management, office personnel, sales, service, or production workers? Depending on how narrow the topic’s focus, only certain groups might need to attend.
Communicating your message
Educator Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience shows people retain approximately 30% of what they are told and 20% of what they see. That goes up dramatically to around 50% if it’s both seen and heard. That’s why materials that reinforce the safety message visually are crucial. Retention is even higher if people who’ve heard and seen a message are given the chance to use it through a hands-on demonstration, written quiz, or feedback exercise.
Select presentation aids that help supplement your presentation visually. Those include videos, live demonstrations, pictures, and printed handouts.
Conducting the meeting
Good training sessions are short and to the point, are easily understood by the entire audience, and feature presentation aids. Safety meetings shouldn’t cover more than one safety subject at a time, and should last anywhere between 5–15 minutes. If a session takes longer than 30 minutes, break the meeting into smaller segments.
It’s important that employees be comfortable during training sessions and feel they can ask questions or express their concerns. As an icebreaker, have an employee share a personal experience that’s related to the topic you’re discussing. Also:
- Keep the session friendly and non-judgmental. If someone makes a critical statement during your presentation, accept it as another point—don’t start a debate.
- Allow for a question and answer session prior to recapping the safety message.
- Provide a chance for hands-on practice, or even give a quiz to see if employees learned the safety lesson.
- Give employees information to take with them.
Your safety coordinator should regularly remind employees about previous safety meetings. If a worker does a task incorrectly, the coordinator should explain the correct way of doing it.
Provide a handout similar to the one given at the end of your safety meeting a couple of weeks later as a reminder of the topic. Also consider:
- Defining goals and objectives based on covered content and periodically measuring the results to ensure you reach the goals
- Hanging safety signs and safety posters around your business to remind employees of safety messages
- Holding incentive contests to reduce accidents and placing charts or graphs on a safety billboard to track the progress
- Scheduling follow-up training sessions to reinforce safe working practices