According to statistics, about 3 billion “close calls” or “near misses” occur annually in United States workplaces. For every 300 near misses, 29 minor injuries occur, along with one injury severe enough to keep the injured person out of work. Most accidents and near misses can be prevented by creating a company culture that is both psychologically and physically safe.
In fact, when accidents occur, morale decreases, tension increases, corners get cut, and overall, employees tend to feel unsafe, which results in a loss of productivity and increased risks for injury. Inversely, when employees feel safe at work, morale increases, and they are more productive. But how do we make employees feel safe?
Psychological & Physical Safety
Psychological safety is the belief that employees won’t be punished when mistakes are made. However, psychological safety discourages risky behavior when management places emphasis on identifying safety issues and resolving them. Physical safety controls further this emphasis with minimized risks and hazards in the workplace, protecting workers from physical harm.
When organizations find synergy between psychological and physical workplace safety, the result is high-performing teams with fewer injuries. According to CNBC, “A 2017 Gallup report found that if organizations increase psychological safety, it makes employees more engaged in their work and can lead to a 12% increase in productivity. In 2015, when Google studied its employees to determine “what makes a good team,” researchers found that psychological safety was the most important quality that determined a team’s success.” (Cory Stieg CNBC 2020)
Company Culture & Safety Meetings
Creating a company culture around safety starts at the top, beginning with creating safety policies and procedures then implementing them. One standard section in company safety policies includes daily, weekly, or monthly safety meetings or toolbox talks. Safety meetings are essential to maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. Although it would be great for every company and industry to conduct daily safety meetings, we understand the importance of productivity. For example, it may not be feasible to take hundreds of workers in a low-risk manufacturing environment off an assembly line every day to hold a daily safety talk. Therefore, it may make sense for a low-risk manufacturing facility to conduct monthly safety meetings.
On the other hand, a high-risk industrial setting should make it a priority to conduct daily meetings to review the best ways to prevent injuries in the workplace. Ultimately the higher the risk, the more frequent meetings should occur. For assistance in determining your companies risk level and how often you should be conducting safety meetings, schedule a free hazard analysis call.
Safety Meeting Topics
Regularly scheduled Safety Meetings serve as a preventive measure to help avoid unnecessary accidents. Topics can include:
- Industry-related safety
- Company-specific safety procedures
- Various internal or external safety situations
- Reminders about general safety such as lock-out tag-out or operating a forklift safely
Work Safety Review also recommends analyzing company-specific injuries to identify trends such as weekly recurrences or the same types of injuries happening over and over. For example, if it’s recognized that there is a spike in injuries on Thursdays, make it a procedure to conduct safety meetings on Thursdays before the shift. Likewise, if multiple hand injuries are happening, make it a point to talk about safety precautions to avoid hand injuries. Safety analytics available with Safety Management Software can help you analyze trends related to injuries and identify areas where Safety Training can be improved.
Topics can also be specific to seasonality, in months that have a lot of rain, talk about swamp boot or safety procedures for working in hot or cold weather conditions. Employees can quickly get complacent in the daily or weekly routine of things. Although safety meetings or toolbox talks are not a substitute for a complete health and safety training course, they serve as a refresher to classes taken years ago that are now distant memories.
Benefits of Safety Meetings
Routine safety meetings or toolbox talks help keep safety top of mind and provide other benefits such as:
- Everyone starts the day with safety top of mind and an attitude for success
- Employees stay up to date on safety expectations, policies, and procedures
- Consistent safety meetings remind staff to stay alert and creates positive habits
- Safety meetings raise awareness
- Finally, safety meetings improve communication, allow the team to share knowledge, and ultimately show management’s commitment to the team’s success
Safety & Engagement
Just as important as giving safety meetings, it’s even more essential that employees embrace the information provided. To keep employees engaged, we recommend dedicating some safety meetings to storytelling where employees share a situation that demonstrates how they or a fellow employee followed a safety procedure and the positive outcome or potential negative outcome that could have occurred. This type of meeting should result in camaraderie, positive recognition, and, most importantly, engagement.
Safety meetings can also be fun by evoking friendly competition among co-workers or teams to see who knows the most about safety procedures or a particular safety topic. We recommend awarding prizes such as free lunch, company swag, or paid time off to daily, weekly, or monthly winners to make safety meetings even more engaging. Do whatever resonates with your team and company culture, but most importantly, keep employees engaged, safe, and consider how to make safety fun.
It’s common for employees to get complacent in the daily or weekly routine of things. To grow a physically and psychologically safe culture takes time and commitment. However, it’s worth it to keep your workers safe and your business out of trouble. It’s well worth taking 2-5 minutes to talk about safety since statistics have shown it to decrease workplace accident claims, and most importantly, save lives.
Our experts at Work Safety Review are always available to answer any safety-related questions. Sign up to receive free toolbox talks, contact us for a free safety evaluation, or sign up for our free virtual events to optimize your safety program.