From personal protective equipment to fire prevention, hazardous waste management, fall protection, and more, there’s no shortage of safety topics to cover with your workforce.
Educating employees on these sorts of safety topics is pivotal to the success of your safety program. It’s how you keep people safe, maximize efficiency, and stay out of trouble with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other regulatory authorities. Safety meetings make certain every member of your team understands the importance of safety and is doing everything they can to keep themselves and others unharmed.
Are you covering all the safety topics you need to cover with your workforce? Don’t wait until an incident happens to find out you missed something. Top-performing companies ensure ongoing safety and compliance by making time for safety meetings, which promote awareness of life-saving practices and procedures.
What Is a Safety Meeting?
A safety meeting is more or less what it sounds like: an event to go over and discuss one or more hazards in the workplace.
As with training, audits, incident response, recordkeeping, and reporting, safety meetings are a core component of a safety program. They provide EHS managers with valuable opportunities to explain safety topics in-depth, engage in conversations with employees, and guide the direction of the organization’s safety program.
Note that a safety meeting is not the same thing as a toolbox talk. A toolbox talk is usually informal, brief (about 5 or 10 minutes), and centered on a hazard workers are likely to face that day or week.
Safety meetings are longer and more formal than toolbox talks and tend to focus on larger issues. They’re more than a short conversation or a “heads-up.” A safety meeting may take 20–45 minutes and involve multiple formats, such as a presentation followed by an interactive activity or a group discussion. Think of it as a seminar or learning session rather than a quick huddle.
Here’s a year’s worth of topics to cover in your safety meetings.
For more information, read this guide to safety meetings.
3 Key Areas to Cover in Safety Meetings
So, what topics should your safety meetings cover? With dozens of potential topics, making a choice can feel overwhelming. To help you out, we’ve narrowed it down to a manageable list of 3 key areas that impact your employees, with some ideas to expand up on from there. Ready? Let’s take a look.
1. Areas OSHA’s Focusing On in Your Industry
OSHA’s pretty transparent about what they’re citing in different industries. You might as well get ahead of the curve and make sure your workforce is trained up on these topics. A focus on these will help ensure you stay out of OSHA’s crosshairs.
To save you some digging, here are the top ones for specific industries:
Here are the top 5 for Construction.
Across the board, here are the OSHA Top 10:
Slips, trips, and falls are among the most common workplace injuries, which make them prime candidates for safety meeting topics. Your employees should be aware of fall causes and risk factors (such as wet and uneven surfaces) along with how to protect themselves and minimize the chances of a fall. It’s so important, it’s covered in multiple spots in the top 10.
Contaminated air in your facilities can cause health problems ranging from bronchitis and emphysema to cognitive issues and cancer. It’s imperative that any worker exposed to hazardous air knows how to protect themselves by using a respiratory device. That requires an understanding of the different kinds of respirators, knowledge of fit testing, an awareness that regular medical evaluations are required, and more.
Unlabeled and mislabeled chemicals pose serious dangers to employees—and can result in major regulatory penalties. A safety meeting is an ideal opportunity to discuss this topic. Your workforce should be familiar with the dangers of chemical exposure, the ins and outs of your hazard communication plan, and how to use your library of material safety data sheets.
Do your employees know how to safely depower dangerous machines? Explain the importance of controlling hazardous energy as well as every step of your organization’s lockout/tagout procedures. Typical minimum procedures require the following: 1. notify employees affected, 2. shut down equipment, 3. isolate the source of energy, 4. attach the lockout device, 5. release or restrain any energy stored within the machine, and 6. verify the lockout.
PPE such as goggles, masks, harnesses, and gloves protect your employees from various hazards and injuries. Deliver a safety meeting to make sure your workforce knows the types of PPE they need to wear—and how to wear it properly—as well as the fundamentals of PPE inspections and maintenance.
Forklifts, which OSHA likes to call “powered industrial trucks,” are useful vehicles. Countless businesses rely on forklifts to move large/heavy objects.
However, the things that make forklifts useful also make them dangerous. Accidents happen throughout businesses and industries. Loads can fall and crush people. Forklifts can tip over, injuring drivers and workers nearby. Pedestrians can get hit, which is especially common in workplaces where a lot of people are moving around on foot.
Industrial equipment poses many dangers to your workforce. Help your employees use heavy machines safely and efficiently by discussing the various hazards and then going over the machine guarding controls—such as barriers, light curtains, and two-hand trips—that may be in place in your facility.
Beyond industry-specific topics, OSHA’s focused on regional topics as well. Think construction inspection in region 9 in the southwest and fall hazards in region 1 in the northeast.
2. Issues Impacting Your Workforce
Regardless of your industry or where you’re located, there are some issues that impact your workforce across the board. Consider covering these topics in your safety meetings.
Your employees should understand how to report incidents and accidents (in a perfect world, through their EHS software.)
This is a great time to review recent accidents and near misses, understand the root causes, and help workers understand the costs of these accidents – both personal and to the company as a whole.
Employees using drugs at work are far more likely to get injured. There are many harmful implications of using drugs while working. Examples include job turnover, loss of time, reduced alertness and productivity, unexplained absences, and increased vulnerability to accidents. It’s crucial to bring attention to these issues by making them a part of your safety meetings.
Workplace violence training typically covers effective prevention strategies as well as how to respond to disgruntled employees, active shootings, bomb threats, and suspicious packages.
In its most basic form, first aid is initial emergency care given to an ill or injured person, just until a professional medical service arrives in place. It can help save lives, hinder temporary and long-term disabilities, and prevent any emergency situation from becoming worse. With this in mind, it makes a good business strategy to train your employees on the basics of first aid as it will help you secure a healthier, safer workplace environment for your workers.
A fire at your facility can jeopardize lives and property. Besides highlighting the importance of being prepared, your workforce should know how to prevent fires, how to effectively contain a fire if one breaks out, and the details of your emergency action plan.
This is a concern in many industries particularly when shift work comes into play. Rested, healthy workers are a win-win situation.
3. Environmental Issues
Think about this in terms of the impact we have on the environment as well as the impact the environment has on our workforce.
This one’s timely since OSHA’s ramping up enforcement on this issue. Topics to cover include heat stress and how can you avoid it? You’ll want to explain the causes of heat stress and heat illness and preventive measures.
Excessive heat, natural disasters, and other major safety concerns unique to this season often rear their ugly heads on our job sites.
Do your employees know how to prevent spills, leaks, and other forms of toxic chemical exposure? Are they prepared to act quickly in the event of an emergency? Give your employees the tools and knowledge they need by discussing this topic at a safety meeting—you could even conduct a simulated chemical spill scenario.
The EPA has numerous requirements governing the handling of hazardous waste. Be sure your employees are knowledgeable about subjects such as hazardous waste regulations, waste determination, generator status, storage, labels, inspections, accumulation limits, and waste pickup.
The Key to Building a Strong Safety Culture is Continual Reinforcement
Practice, practice, practice – that’s the way to build “safety muscles” across your workforce. Supplement your safety meetings with other vehicles that demonstrate you care about safety. Reinforce your safety meeting topics with online training. Keep safety top of mind by sharing quick incident recreations and questions of the day.
Want to improve your organization’s training program as quickly and cost-effectively as possible?
You’ve come to the right place. KPA offers award-winning training courses that are…
Check out some sample topics in our training library.
Or, contact us for help putting together an effective training program for your business.
Get Help Running Effective Safety Meetings and Keeping Safety Top of Mind for Your Employees
Thousands of companies like yours depend on KPA to minimize risk and maximize workforce safety. Our combination of EHS software, expert consultingservices, and award-winning training makes it easy to unite your employees around your safety program and build a genuine safety culture in your workplace. We’ll help you plan and conduct safety meetings, educate your employees on critical EHS topics, keep track of compliance, and much more.