Doing it the Right Way
"I knew it was wrong but..." Accident investigators hear that statement over and over again in the aftermath of workplace incidents.
Sure, there are incidents that occur because workers really didn't know they were doing something unsafe or really didn't know the rules. But such incidents are in the minority. Most incidents and injuries are not the result of lack of knowledge. Most are the result of ignoring the knowledge.
On the highway we know we shouldn't speed - but we do because we're in a hurry. On the job we know the safety precautions to take but we ignore the precautions because there's extra effort or time involved.
We take shortcuts because it's easier. We let things slide because we've done the job hundreds of times and there's never been a problem. That's when incidents happen. And sometimes we (and our families) pay for the rest of our lives.
Toolbox Safety Talks
The toolbox safety talks in this Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association Inc. (SCSA) series are not designed to teach safety - except at the most basic level. The real purpose is to help bring these topics up at safety meetings in a clear, brief, and non-threatening way. The SCSA safety talk series is designed to reinforce safety knowledge and management's commitment to "doing it the right way" and "making safety a way of life".
How to Use These Brochures
Member companies in the SCSA are free to use these materials in any way that makes sense for that company. In general, however, the following approach can help your safety meetings be more effective:
Planning a Safety Meeting
Plan to hold a safety meeting at least once a month. On hazardous or very complex sites meetings may need to occur more often (weekly /daily).
Plan your meetings for a regular time on a specific day and time. Sometimes you may need to hold a toolbox meeting right before starting a specific task.
Choose a safety topic for each meeting. Make sure you have enough handouts for each member of the team/crew.
Where possible, prepare a written agenda before the meeting. Your SCSA advisor or regional safety committee can provide sample agenda forms
Place the safety them last on the agenda - make sure all the business items are dealt with first.
Invite members of your team/crew to handle specific parts of the meeting. It helps everyone to become involved.
Conducting a Safety Meeting
You may have to conduct the safety meeting on a worksite. Try to find a place that is not too noisy or distracting.
Have someone keep minutes of the meeting and distribute the minutes so everyone can sign their name in ink, know what was discussed, what actions were decided, and who is responsible for each action.
Distribute information handouts and spend a couple of minutes highlighting some of the more important points.
Encourage members of the team/crew to comment on the information or relate appropriate stories that will bring the importance of the subject to life.
Don't let the meeting drag - 10 minutes is about right for the discussion of the theme.
Encourage each member of the team/crew to take the handouts home to their family.
As you proceed into and through each of these safety meetings, there are some questions that you should ask yourself:
What could the team/crew members be doing that would help them to learn these concepts?
If I were in their shoes, what would help me listen and learn?
How can I help them learn from each other?
What effect will age, experience, and position have on their ability to accept the information I present?
As the presenter, you are the person that will set the tone during these meetings. If you treat the information seriously, your team/crew members will take it seriously.
Ask more experienced workers to assist in the presentation of safety topics.
It's part of your job to make sure that these meetings emphasize the right attitude.
It's no joke - you might be responsible for saving someone's life.
Safety topics are a good way to present safety information and to refresh people about the importance of doing it right. Make sure everyone knows you support the safe way to get the job done.