Studies have shown that placing a consistent emphasis on safety in the workplace is far more effective at improving company safety culture than one-time or occasional efforts: workplaces that implement reliable health and safety management systems can reduce their costs by 20 to 40 percent, have more satisfied and productive employees, and tend to be considered “better places to work”. After introducing your employees to your company’s safety policies and procedures at their new hire safety orientation and providing routine safety training to ensure that they are continually aware of possible safety hazards, it is important to host regular safety meetings to engage your employees and continually develop your company’s safety measures.
Safety meetings are the foundation for an effective workplace safety program by providing an opportunity to establish and promote safety engagement. You can distribute safety materials and tell your employees to prioritize safety, but until your company takes the time to actively promote a safety culture, it will not become a priority for your team.
Have a strong management presence
Part of making safety a priority in your workplace for all of your employees is having your management show that it should be a priority. There should be a strong management presence at all of your safety meetings, and they should continue to be present before and after meetings. Establish open lines of communication between everyone involved with safety meetings. If employees have questions about safety measures or suggestions for future meetings or procedures, ensure that there is a way for them to easily voice their opinions and feel that their needs are being met.
However, management is not the only group that should be represented; studies have shown that organizations with a larger percentage of their workforce on safety committees have reduced the rate of illness and injury. It is crucial to have representation from every department and every level within the company to ensure that the relevant information reaches everyone. If your safety meetings grow too large, or you feel that different groups should be receiving information tailored to their job functions, consider forming multiple committees within your safety meetings.
Avoid these common mistakes
Aside from not promoting workplace safety at the management level, there are a number of common mistakes that can make your workplace safety meetings less-than-effective. The common underlying thread under many potential saboteurs is disorganization. If the meetings happen irregularly or start later than was previously advertised, if the materials for the meeting are not in place before it begins, if the meeting does not have a clear purpose and structure, if information is presented in a messy or confusing manner, if management fails to properly address attendees’ questions and concerns before or after the meeting, or if there is a failure to follow up on employee recommendations, the employees will likely not properly absorb the safety information and may feel frustrated and dissatisfied with how the company values their time. Many of these mistakes, however, can be avoided by developing a strong agenda prior to each meeting.
Create an effective agenda
In the previous section, we stressed the importance of having a strong agenda in your safety meetings: however, what entails a good agenda? We recommend the following format for your safety meeting agenda:
- Make opening remarks
- Review action plan and discussion from the previous meeting
- Review current trends and developments
- Review accident occurrences
- Discuss the main safety topic for that meeting and address any issues that your team may have
- Create an action plan for the next meeting; this includes setting short-term and long-term goals
Once you’ve set the agenda for a meeting, we strongly encourage you to distribute the agenda a reasonable amount of time prior to the meeting so your employees will know what to expect from the meeting and have the opportunity to address any questions or concerns prior to the meeting. We also encourage recording minutes at each meeting and making them publicly available so your employees will have better access to what you have discussed.
Consider having multiple committees
I know what you may be thinking. We can’t even get a lot of enthusiasm for one safety committee. Consider breaking down the committee’s tasks into different committees. For example, you could have a safety audit committee and a safety training committee. By breaking tasks down you get more involvement and each committee can be strategically focused. If you want to learn more about how to develop effective safety committees get in touch with one of our Compass Certified Consultants.
About Compass RMS
The risk management firm Risk Management, Inc. has specialized in workers’ compensation since 1996, creating the CWCP (Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional) program in 1999 and the P4 process in 2000. We launched our Compass Risk Management platform in 2008 and recently released version 4.0. For more information about our services, give us a call at (770) 534-2042 to speak with one of our consultants.