It’s a Safety Meeting, Not a Reading!

how to lead a safety meeting 1Some are certainly better than others, but most are still pretty bad. I’m referring to safety meetings and the way they’re conducted, in whatever shape they may take or in whatever venue they may be held—and this is true regardless of industry and regardless of whether they are monthly, general, stand down, safety-huddle, tailgate or toolbox meetings—the meeting leader usually ends up reading the meeting instead of leading the meeting. [content_protector password=”meeting-intro-00″ identifier=”meeting-intro-00″]

We are often far too tethered to our notes, our slides, our JSA form, or our tailgate-meeting checklist to conduct a safety meeting that actually accomplishes the goal of raising safety awareness in the work crew. So is there a better way to conduct these meetings?

Well, that’s going to be our topic for the next several issues of Recordable Insights. We’ll address things like how to make a safety meeting more engaging and interactive, and why it’s important to do that. We’ll talk about how to get your workforce involved and participating through a dialogue that transfers ownership of idea-generation, problem-solving and opportunity-finding to those most at risk. We’ll learn why it’s important to blur the distinction between safety and daily tasks during operations meetings so that safety is no longer viewed as a special “moment” in the meeting, or as a separate thing that’s bolted on to those daily tasks.

We’ll revisit how to lead a meeting with leadership presence, with passion, with care and concern; and why it’s important to make it more about people and culture than about compliance to regulations. We’ll learn how to use safety meetings to create a shared experience that allows others to take the lead, and affords you the opportunity to develop safety-leadership skills in the work crew no matter what their title or role.

Safety meetings have to be led in a way that demonstrates a firm gasp of how your communication style impacts how someone receives, accepts, and acts upon your message. Lecturing, reading a checklist, or citing the statistics about safety is not what inspires the average worker to take an active role in his own safety and the safety of those around him.

That brings us to Tip # 1: Lead it, don’t read it. We’ll learn how to do this as we go through this series; but for now, resolve to break yourself of the habit of slavishly following the meeting form, or the PPT deck, or the agenda. The agenda is there to serve us—we’re not there to serve it. Eyes should be focused on people, not on slides and forms.

That’s it for this edition of Recordable Insights. Until next time be sure all your discussions about safety are built in, not bolted on.



About the Author

Eric Svendsen
Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is Principal and lead change agent for safetyBUILT-IN, a safety-leadership learning and development organization. He has over 20 years experience in creating and executing outcomes-based leadership development and culture change initiatives aligned to organizational goals, and he personally led the safety-culture initiatives of a number of client organizations that resulted in “best ever safety performance” years for those companies.