We don't have to tell you why workplace safety matters. First of all, employee health and safety is your number one priority, because your people are your business.
Also, you may be well aware that safety issues in the workplace can be expensive and even mean the end of your business entirely. The best way to mitigate safety concerns, hazards, and issues before anything gets out of hand is with workplace safety meetings.
This guide will tell you about the OSHA guidelines for safety meetings, help you understand how often to have them, and provide some additional context about safety meetings in general and potential topics for you to cover.
OSHA Guidelines on Safety Meetings
OSHA expects regular, effective safety meetings in any workplace that operates with OSHA guidelines. Depending on the size of your company, you may need to have a dedicated safety committee, who may be in charge of creating and attending safety meetings and sharing information with the rest of the company. Check the OSHA documentation to find guidelines by state and size of your company.
Not meeting regularly or effectively can put your entire team and business at risk. Safety meetings create a culture of speaking out, looking out for one another, and sharing lessons and best practices. They can give your employees and managers the tools they need to keep creating a safe work environment, while also empowering them to find solutions for unsafe practices.
How Often to Have Safety Meetings
Safety meetings keep teams aware of safety topics and concerns, shape your company culture, and can help control your budget and resources. How often these should occur depends on your business, industry, and the needs and personalities of your staff. Generally, quarterly or monthly meetings work well for some companies, while others may have a need for weekly or bi-weekly meetings. The main thing to keep in mind is that they should be regularly scheduled, so that everyone knows when to expect them and what they can expect at the meetings.
To find the right frequency of meetings, try to pinpoint how engaged workers are, and at what time of day. You don't want to have too many meetings, making them ineffective, nor do you want to have too few. Many businesses find a happy medium around weekly or bi-monthly safety meetings, but you can always adapt.
Workplace Safety Meetings: The Basics
Before we take a look at potential topics for your workplace safety meetings, let's review the basics.
What is a safety meeting?
Workplace safety meetings are an opportunity to touch base with your teams. They're open, structured conversations about topics that matter in your industry and your specific workplace. While they can take many formats, they tend to be more formal than other on-the-job meetings and may involve presentations, activities, question-and-answer sections, and other elements.
Why do safety meetings matter?
Safety meetings matter for the same reason workplace safety itself matters: It's your job to protect your people. These meetings are a tool used to effectively keep everyone on the same page regarding awareness, expectations, risks, and other key details.
What is the goal of a safety meeting?
Your safety meeting can have a variety of goals depending on what format you choose, what industry you're in, and what topics you decide to cover. However, there's one objective that always remains the same: empowering workers to take charge of their own safety on the job. By providing necessary background information and explanations, you're taking one more step toward fulfilling the responsibility to protect them.
Topics for Your Next Safety Meetings
Safety meetings can cover just about anything. That's a wide net to cast--so many organizations appreciate having a list of potential topics. These topics can be mixed and matched depending on your needs, helping you cover the most relevant points at the most important times.
Here are a few ideas for your next safety meetings:
#1: OSHA regulations
OSHA regulations are an important topic for review, even if they haven't changed since your last safety meeting. That's not just to help you avoid noncompliance fines; it's also because OSHA acts as an effective guide for creating and adhering to good workplace safety habits. Make sure your workers know what the regulations are, why they matter, and how to stay compliant on the job.
#2: Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The idea of PPE may have become better-known the general population thanks to COVID-19, but that's no reason to skip this topic in your safety meetings--especially since workplace PPE tends to be more involved. Instead, use the newfound familiarity as an opportunity to discuss the value of PPE, how yours differs from everyday masks and gloves, and when to wear this equipment.
#3: First aid
First aid is an important part of any workplace, especially one where hazards are complicated and consistent. Training and certification often require help from an expert, but this knowledge is particularly valuable and might even save a life someday.
Just as importantly, first aid training helps empower your workers to take better care of themselves and one another. While it's your responsibility to protect them on the job, it's important to give them the information they need to take immediate action in case of emergency.
#4: Preventing heat illness
Heat illness prevention is an example of a potentially seasonal topic. For example, you might cover things like heat exhaustion and heatstroke during the summer months, then swap out this topic for something else when the weather gets cooler. That way, you can keep your safety meetings dynamic and relevant without skipping information your workers need.
#5: Electrical safety
While electrical safety is important any time of the year, it may be particularly relevant during wetter months--for example, during spring or autumn rain or over a snowy winter. This helps your employees make the connection between environmental conditions and workplace risks, showing them that, while they aren't able to control every variable, they can be prepared.
Although "questions" may seem like an odd topic choice, it's a key part of any safety meeting. Workers need to know when and how they can ask questions--that way, they feel confident enough to bring up concerns instead of overlooking potentially dangerous situations or knowledge gaps. This is also an opportunity to find out how employees see your workplace safety approaches and where you can improve, giving you the information you need to support a safer workplace.
Need Help Getting Started?
Northwest Safety and Risk Services has plenty of opportunities to support your teams as you establish clear guidelines for workplace safety meetings and trainings. Work with the Northwest Safety team on consultations, employee training, and guidelines for effective safety meetings. Let's talk today.