Often, workplace safety meetings, sometimes called “toolbox talks” or “huddles” are dedicated times for discussing safety issues and culture. Ideally, these safety meetings are opportunities for leaders and participants to voice concerns; about immediate hazards, retraining on specific practices, and promoting a strong safety culture. In an effective safety meeting, they;
In the paragraphs below, are four essential workplace safety topics to cover in safety meetings and toolbox talks.
To begin, job sites are often dangerous areas with large machinery, unfinished buildings, open electric conduits – the list goes on. And, those hazards can threaten workers’ safety and can cause injury or death. During every safety meeting, the most significant hazards need to be identified for all crew members to remain safe. One way to identify these hazards is by marking out zones with clear traffic paths so workers can stay out of harm’s way. For example, OSHA specifically identifies four specific hazards as the “Fatal Four” – falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, and caught in or between objects. Almost 60% of construction worker deaths occur due to the Fatal Four each year.
Next, The second safety topic that should be in every toolbox talk, huddle, or meeting is safety training. Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether workers have been on the job for days, months, or decades, they need a refresher on safety practices. During a meeting is the perfect time to get workers engaged. In other words, don’t just go through the motions hoping someone will catch you out of the corner of their eye. It’s not an airplane monologue (which you shouldn’t ignore either). Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you cover the basics or something more complex, like the correct use of a safety harness. First, ask the crew to walk you through each step. And if they make a mistake, it’s an opportunity to unteach bad habits.
Thirdly, avoiding safety risks is usually the main focus of safety meetings. However, that doesn’t go far enough. Every crew member needs to know what to do if and when a safety incident occurs, unfortunately. When high-level reporting of injuries or considerable risks to the use of PPE, your team needs to know three things; who to talk to, how to document the incident, and what steps to take to minimize the future risk. Now, one of the toughest aspects of leading a safety meeting or toolbox talk is being an effective communicator. However, public speaking isn’t an innate ability for most people. It takes practice and often a suitable audience. Above all, the best safety leaders let their crew voice their concerns, questions and sometimes doubts with courtesy and respect in mind.
Lastly, accountability for one’s own safety and actions must be in every safety meeting. Often, leaders treat this as an unspoken rule – it’s not. The “I got this” mentality doesn’t work when safety is involved. During dangerous situations, workers are not responsible for only themselves, but their co-workers as well. When emphasizing this, it’s important to reinforce that accountability doesn’t require the blame of others. Ultimately, acknowledging that more action could have been taken is far more effective than pointing fingers.
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