Tips for conducting effective employee safety meetings

Added August 18, 2020

No matter what type of business you run, safety is a key component that helps your business operate more smoothly, efficiently, and profitably

You want to help keep your employees and your customers safe, but your business has risks. For employees to understand and follow proper safety measures, you have to teach them. The first step in that process is conducting effective safety meetings.

There's a belief that a safety meeting is simply sitting your employees in front of a television and having them watch an instructional safety video. But that's just a part of the puzzle. While a video can support a safety training session, it shouldn't be the primary means of communication and instruction.

Remember, the primary objective of a safety meeting is to educate and have your employees follow safe work practices and procedures. While the meeting may help fulfill an OSHA requirement, all too often the message isn't communicated effectively. With proper preparation and organization, you can help prevent that from happening.

A company-wide commitment

Safety should be a priority for everyone at your business, including leadership. A commitment from management shows how important safety is to your company and lends an authoritative voice to the subject. Leaders should be involved in safety meetings, from planning to execution to follow-up.

Now let's break down how to effectively run a safety meeting.

Planning your safety meeting

The first step in planning a safety meeting at your business is setting an objective. Think about why this meeting is needed and what you want to accomplish during and after the meeting. Perhaps there have been a lot of back injuries due to poor lifting techniques. Or perhaps you've had a customer claim due to hoses being left in aisles. By reviewing incident records, you can identify problem areas and any safety topics to discuss.

Next, analyze your audience. Is the meeting intended for management, sales reps, delivery drivers, or your production workforce? Depending on how narrow the topic's focus, only certain groups might need to attend.

Decide who you want to present your safety meeting. Do you have a safety coordinator? Depending on the safety topic, perhaps you have an employee who can serve as a trainer. You might also consider having outside safety consultants come in for the meeting.

We have safety consults who regularly visit our customers to help conduct safety training—from seminars to hands-on training—at their businesses.

Communicating your message

Educator Edgar Dale's Cone of Experience shows people retain approximately 30 percent of what they are told and 20 percent of what they see. That goes up dramatically—to around 50 percent—if the information is 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. They are easily understood by the entire audience in a language they understand, and feature presentation aids. Generally, safety meetings shouldn't cover more than one subject at a time and should last anywhere between 515 minutes. If a session takes longer than 30 minutes, break the meeting into smaller segments, if possible.

It's important your employees are 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.

Here are some other best practices to follow during safety meetings:

  • Use an attendance sheet to keep track of who attended the meeting and who you need to follow up with afterward.

  • 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. Make a summary of the presentation available in some form that all employees can access.

Following up

Regularly remind employees about previous safety meetings and primary safety messages. Show the correct method of performing a task if it's being done incorrectly.

Provide a handout similar to the one given out at the end of your safety meeting 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 improve safety and placing charts or graphs on a safety bulletin board to track the progress

  • Scheduling follow-up training sessions to reinforce safe working practices

Remember, we're here to help you manage your risks and avoid needless accidents. Talk with a Hortica representative for more information on how we can help your business.

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The information in this article is for informational or entertainment purposes only. View our disclaimer by going to terms and conditions and clicking on Learning Center disclaimer in the table of contents.