National Safety Month: Master Your Message
Creating Safety Meetings That Matter
Let’s face it. Messaging matters, and safety is not exempt from this important concept. Ask a successful purveyor of any product or service. If your message is not communicated effectively, it can be misunderstood, incorrectly shared with others, or even worse…not heard at all.
Why it Matters
Failure to communicate safety information effectively can have serious negative consequences, including:
- Accidents, injuries, and illnesses.
- Lost workdays, reduced productivity and delays.
- Risk-taking by employees.
- Inability to comply with regulations.
- Higher workers’ compensation and health insurance costs
- Damage to materials, equipment, or your facility (for example, in a workplace fire caused by carelessness or lack of knowledge)
- Risks to community and environment (for example, in release or improper disposal of hazardous materials/chemicals).
Benefits of Regular Safety Meetings/Effective Communication
There is likely no other activity that brings together every single staff member as often as a safety meeting does. No one should be exempt from attending because safety applies to everyone!
Safety expert Kevin Burns offers 3 positive benefits that regular safety meetings create (but only if you do them right!):
- Marketing Opportunity. Your company’s safety culture cannot succeed if employees don’t buy into safety. People that buy in to safety don’t need to be policed into compliance. Therefore, employees need safety regularly marketed to them; or, more accurately, getting the right information into their hands so they can make the choice to opt in to safety. People want to know “what’s in it for me?” Make sure your safety meetings always provide an answer to that question.
- Strong Teams. Safety shouldn’t be confined to just the safety committee or a small group of managers. When everyone works toward a safety goal together, fewer people will play by their own set of rules. Safety is a team sport, so be sure to act as a coach. Use safety meetings as a team-building opportunity.
- An Effective Safety Culture. If you don’t regularly communicate safety and remove ambiguity in your safety program, you will never get buy-in from your employees. Expectations and the reasons for them must be clear and regularly communicated. Your safety culture may be influenced by ownership and senior management, but the true safety culture is determined and carried out on the front line – by the same people attending the safety meeting. If you want to influence the safety culture of your organization, influence the people attending the safety meeting. If you can get people to buy-in to safety purely based on the “what’s in it for me” question being answered, you have them for a long time. Once people buy-in to safety, they won’t ever opt out of safety.
Start to love your safety messaging. Turn safety meetings into “want-to” attend events instead of “forced-to” time wasters. Make safety enjoyable. Celebrate it. Convincing people to work safely on their own without being forced is worth celebrating!