Talk about Safety: Save a Life!

[tweetmeme]”Toolbox Talks”, “Toolbox Topics” , “Safety Chats” , “Tailgate Meetings” or whatever your organization calls them is a brief safety talk or meeting about a specific subject at the beginning of the shift. These talks can be done in a variety of ways but are typically a brief (5-10 minute) interactive discussion meeting on something safety related. Toolbox Topics are used to cover a variety of short safety training subjects and to remind employees each day before they go to work, the importance of being safe.  They can also help foster and grow a culture of safety within your company.

However sometimes the same safety meetings that occur time after time lose some of the spark as an effective training tool.  We’ve all been to safety meetings that missed the mark—topics were not pertinent, sessions ran too long, disorganization ruled.  We have all experienced times when the safety training was forgotten as soon as the meeting was over.

It’s too important to just give up though.  Employee’s lives and fortune depend upon their knowledge and attitude about job site safety.  One seemingly silly accident can quickly ruin a company financially as well, and for the remaining employees it can certainly alter their quality of life.  It is in every worker’s interest to protect their savings and earning potential as well as their life and health.

Tips for Effective Safety Meetings

  • Carefully time the length of meetings.  If you hold meetings once a month, keep the length at 30-45 minutes; once a week, keep it 30 minutes or less with 20 minutes as the ideal length. The longest meetings should run no more than an hour.
  • For construction work, have short, informal tailgate safety meetings of 5, 10, or 15 minutes before work once a week, with a longer talk at least once a month or at the start of each phase of the construction project.
  • Schedule topics over a long period—a year is most common.  The schedule provides reasonable deadlines for the trainer and helps others plan their working days.
  • Select meeting topics on the basis of 1) a review of the most recent types of accidents and near-accidents, 2) related corporate safety goals, 3) any particular subjects that need to be covered from a legal or insurance standpoint, and 4) your basic list of safety topics to be reviewed.
  • Have the senior management person at the location open the meeting and sit in—it’s a sign of commitment.

Without constant reminders about safety, we tend to forget, get sloppy, take risks, and have accidents.  Safety meetings are a great refresher and can keep you abreast of changes in the regulations, safety procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) and job assignments, and responsibilities.  Refresher training is also sometimes required by OSHA and having a pre-planned weekly meeting is a convenient way to go over required training.