On any typical workday, 13 U.S. workers are killed in job-related accidents, according to 2011 data from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Workplace safety affects every occupation, from accountants to pipe fitters. Office workers have risks such as tripping over computer cables or opened file drawers. Plant workers face job hazards like flying debris, chemical burns or unguarded movable machinery. Safety officers rely on routine meetings to keep their workforce educated so they don’t become casualties. Facilitating an effective safety meeting means following several essential steps.
Promote messages at your safety meetings that are simple and relevant. Stick with two or three key items so you don’t put your employees on information overload. Employees are more likely to use safety goggles if they understand how critical eye protection is, instead of listening to their boss reading aloud from a safety manual. Your objective is to reduce injuries by nudging everyone to follow the same safety techniques when they return to their workstations. Draw your audience members into your presentation by asking someone to help you show the safety do’s and don’ts. Revisit those same topics in later meetings to make certain everyone continues to comply.
Some industries – especially the construction sector -- use quick sessions called "tailgate" or "toolbox" meetings. These programs are typically 10- to 15-minute meetings that are held at the beginning of a shift or after a break. Many production supervisors use tailgate/toolbox sessions once a week. Some non-manufacturing organizations use monthly or quarterly presentations and cover more generic items such as preventing the spread of influenza or administering CPR. Regardless of your format, remind attendees of your next meeting one or two days in advance. Always start and wrap up on time. Stay on track by following an agenda.
Follow some standard administrative steps with each safety meeting. Record minutes of each discussion and distribute at your next meeting. Save time by asking employees to read the minutes on their own instead of during the meeting. Offer updates on incidents or injuries, but respect employees’ privacy when you share these details. Keep your audiences small, even if you have to break your presentation into several groups. This ensures that everyone can see and hear you, plus smaller groups encourage greater participation. Require everyone to sign in so you can track attendance.
As a facilitator, you wear several hats. You’re the star attraction. You can be an effective presenter even if public speaking is not your strong suit. Arm yourself with information and sincerity so that your employees can see your knowledge and interest in safety. Ask your audience members to share their own experiences, especially mishaps that could have been prevented with safety measures. You also are expected to be a role model in your organization. Your credibility will be dashed if workers see you on the plant floor without your steel-toed boots or safety gloves. Always make sure you walk the talk with your staff.
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- Business and Legal Resources: How to Make Your Safety Committee Successful: Meeting Management
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