Regular meetings that cover safety moments – sometimes known as “toolbox talks” in the construction industry – are vital ways of reinforcing a culture of safety and keeping workers informed about policies, procedures, equipment usage, and hazard prevention.
Take something like a construction site. A plethora of risks are present on a day-to-day basis, including:
Holding safety meetings to address these risks is highly advisable, and within these safety meetings there are safety moments: short exercises that are focused on getting employees to think about safety in the workplace. These exercises often present a hypothetical (but realistic) scenario that they may face on the job, and include time to reflect and discuss.
The goal of a safety moment is to increase hazard awareness and equip employees with the knowledge that they need to avoid accidents and injuries. Workers who practise these routine exercises tend to gain heightened risk awareness, exhibit and champion safer behaviour, and ultimately experience fewer workplace accidents.
Safety Moment Ideas
There are many potential safety moment topics to cover during these safety meetings, and choosing productive subjects means that you first need to identify any hazards that are specific to your workplace. Some highly-effective ideas for safety moment topics that are relevant even outside the construction industry include:
- Proper Lifting Technique – Always lift with bent knees, a straight back, and keep any load close to your body to prevent injury.
- Situational Awareness – Stay alert to potential hazards and use caution in unfamiliar settings. Provide tips to minimise distractions.
- Appropriate Attire – Wear clothing that’s suitable for the task at hand, and make sure that it won’t get caught in machinery. PPE like gloves, goggles, and helmets should be used whenever necessary.
- Handrail Use – Always keep hold of handrails when using stairs to avoid falling.
- Parking Lot Vigilance – Park in well-lit spots, hide valuables, and stay alert when in parking areas.
- Ladder Safety – Use proper ladder height, check the stability of your footing, and maintain three points of contact.
- Slip and Fall Prevention – Watch out for slick surfaces and use caution. In the case of an accident, try to fall with your limbs tucked in to reduce injuries.
- Fire Response – Employees should know where all the exits are and practice responding calmly. Reinforce the need to crawl below smoke, and never stop to pick up belongings. It’s often best to break fire safety into multiple moments like:
- Hazard avoidance.
- Extinguisher use.
- Roles during a fire.
- Evacuation points.
- Chemical Handling – Review safety data sheets, use PPE, and follow instructions to the letter.
- Check-in Procedures – Have check-in protocols to ensure lone worker safety.
- Adequate Rest – Encourage sufficient sleep to ensure health, safety, and reduced mistakes. Review schedules for rest breaks during workdays.
- Proper Ergonomics – Provide specifics when you’re discussing ergonomics, like ideal chair height, desk orientation, keyboard positioning, and monitor angle to avoid repetitive stress injuries.
- Emergency Exits and Routes – Briefly review the nearest exits and evacuation paths as a reminder to be prepared for emergencies.
- Emergency Communication – Review proper usage of mass notification systems and check-in protocols for effective two-way communication.
Checking OSHA recommendations can provide additional safety moment topics that may be less universally relevant, but that are no less important, including:
- Safe product stacking and storage.
- Protocols for theft and robbery response.
- Safety when using knives.
- Risks for kitchen staff.
- Ways to mitigate eye strain.
- Ventilation in confined spaces.
- Mitigating worker fatigue from long shifts.
- Preventing workplace violence.
- Properly investigating incidents and near misses.
- Cybersecurity essentials (i.e. phishing, malware avoidance, etc).
Even more specific situational awareness is also sometimes needed, and is of vital importance. For example, winter conditions introduce totally unique risks like the potential of hypothermia and frostbite. These may require dedicated safety talks that are focused upon conveying specialist information and guidance (e.g. proper layering, scheduling warm-up breaks, and medical response).
Tips for Executing Effective Safety Moments
While choosing the right topics within safety meetings is crucial, execution also matters. Safety talks should actively engage workers by making use of storytelling, games, appropriate humour, and a generally relaxed environment. Participation and critical thinking within meetings tend to lead to improved safety behaviours and attitudes, whereas a poorly-executed meeting is more likely to be forgettable.
Some of the hallmarks of an effective safety moment meeting include:
- Thorough research into the chosen topic to make sure it is relevant.
- A timeframe of no longer than 15 minutes for each safety moment.
- Opportunities (and encouragement) for all employees to participate.
- Effective follow-up that allows future sessions to be improved.
Regular and well-planned safety moments are invaluable tools to minimise the frequency of accidents at work, but the sad fact is that accidents will still happen: sometimes with profound consequences. If you or a colleague have suffered as a result of a hazard in the workplace, the expert team at the Claims Partnership are here to help and provide guidance relating to the potential of compensation, coverage of medical expenses, and even assistance with the recovery process.