Safety meetings are one of the recommended methods to disseminate current job-site safety information. This recommendation, made by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, provides an immediate way to pass the word, but for all of OSHA’s recommendations, there’s no requirement that you ever have safety meetings. In spite of this, a safety meeting, whether you have them annually or at the beginning of every shift, is still an effective tool to reduce job hazards.

The Challenge: Keeping Safety First

As an employer or a supervisor, your challenge is to send your employees home at the end of the workday in the same condition in which they arrived for work. Along with encouraging safety on the job, you can create safety rules for workers to follow. Although not officially prescribed by OSHA, safety meetings are one common way to disseminate information on acceptable work practices, the proper use of tools and the correct use of personal protective equipment. In addition, OSHA provides topics and information on performing common tasks safely. The OSHA Consultation Program brings OSHA inspectors into your business on a consulting basis to assist you in complying with OSHA regulations, as well as with in-house rules, to ensure your workers' safety.

Safety Leadership by Example

Where there's a challenge in your business, management can compel your employees to conform to your specific standards. When the challenge is safety, leadership can help to modify employee behavior. If your facility requires the wearing of a hard hat, a policy must apply to all personnel, whether it's management or labor. When employees see you practice safe behaviors, from wearing personal protective equipment to avoiding unsafe behaviors in hazardous areas, they are more likely to comply with your safety policy. Holding safety meetings on a regular basis, whether quarterly or the beginning of every shift, shows your commitment to safety.

More Than a Pretty Picture

OSHA provides a variety of safety posters, free of charge, for display in areas frequently occupied by employees, such as break rooms and other common areas. Safety in the workplace, though, requires more than a poster. Regardless of the schedule you select, safety meetings remain a reminder to employees to be mindful of their activities and to observe operating requirements such as shields and guards on machinery, proper lifting or other matters of safety. You should always document the time, date and location, as well as the names of the workers who attend each safety meeting. In the unhappy event of an accident, these notes may help establish the cause of the accident and help address questions of liability. They also may help prevent a recurrence of the event.

Preparing Your Safety Policy

Nearly every firm in the private sector is subject to OSHA regulations. The exceptions include family members working on family-owned farms, companies with 10 or fewer employees and those who are self-employed. Twenty-two states have a state-level occupational safety and health agency, the regulations of which may apply to your business, even if you are exempt from the federal statute. Your safety policies, however, are yours. With the aid of OSHA or other consultants, or some common sense, serious thought and input from your managers and senior workers, you can establish a safety policy tailored to your business. As you implement the provisions of your safety policy, one of the quickest ways to spread the word is through a safety meeting.