Tips to help you help your employees
No matter the workplace, safety is key. While some people’s idea of a safety meeting is sitting employees in front of a television and watching a safety video, it’s just part of the puzzle. While a video can support a training session, it shouldn’t be the only part.
Remember, the primary objective of a safety meeting is to convince employees to practice safe work practices or procedures. The meeting may be held to fulfill an OSHA requirement, or to help reduce accidents. But all too often, the message is not communicated effectively.
Success of a safety presentation may be improved through skillful use of visual elements to support the message given by the presenter.
Planning the safety meeting
The first step in planning a safety meeting is setting an objective. Think about why it’s needed and what has to be accomplished. By reviewing accident records, you can identify problem areas and a safety topic that should be discussed. We can supply you with a number of topics you can choose from, along with the information you’ll need.
Next, analyze your audience. Is the meeting intended for management, office personnel, sales, service, or production workers? Depending on how narrow the topic’s focus, only certain groups might need to attend.
Finally, select presentation aids that help supplement your presentation visually. Remember, people learn most effectively when they have a direct experience.
Communicating your message
People retain approximately 30% of what they are told and 20% of what they see. That goes up dramatically to around 50% if it’s both seen and heard. Retention is even higher if people who have heard and seen a message are given the chance to use it through a hands-on demonstration, written quiz, or giving feedback. That’s why materials that reinforce the safety message visually are crucial. Those include videos, live demonstrations, pictures, and printed handouts.
Conducting the meeting
Good training sessions are short and to the point, easily understood by the entire audience, and incorporate a variety of presentation aids. Safety meetings should not be long or cover more than one safety subject at a time. Five to 15 minutes is usually sufficient to cover most topics. If a session takes longer than 30 minutes, break the meeting into smaller segments.
It’s important that employees be comfortable during training sessions and feel they can ask questions or express their concerns. As an icebreaker, have an employee share a personal experience that’s related to the topic you’re discussing. Also:
- Keep the session friendly and non-judgmental. If someone makes a critical statement during your presentation, accept it as another point—don’t start a debate.
- Allow for a question and answer session prior to recapping the safety message.
- Provide a chance for hands-on practice, or even give a quiz to see if your employees learned the safety lesson.
- Give employees information to take with them.
Your safety coordinator should regularly remind employees about previous safety meetings. If a worker does a task incorrectly, explain the correct way of doing it.
Provide a handout similar to the one given at the end of your safety meeting a couple of weeks after the safety meeting as a reminder of the topic. It can be as simple as meeting minutes that outline achievements and future plans. Also consider:
- Defining goals and objectives based on covered content and periodically measure the results to ensure reaching the goals.
- Hanging safety signs and safety posters around your place of business to remind employees of safety messages.
- Communicating accident results by placing charts or graphs on a safety billboard to track the progress.
- Scheduling follow-up training sessions to reinforce safe working practices.
By following these steps and staying involved in your employee’s safety training, you’ll help make a safer workplace and help reduce the risk of costly injuries.