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How to Run a Top-Notch Safety Meeting

Do it right the first time. It’s a mantra for many contractors and builders. As an owner or manager of a contracting or home building company, part of doing the job right is making sure your people get home safely, every night. 

One of the best ways to help ensure that happens is to hold regular safety meetings and create a culture that values safety as part of the right way to do a job. This mentality is central to James Hardie and why its Zero Harm initiative is the foundation of everything the company does.

Try using these seven tips on running a top-notch safety meeting to engrain a Zero Harm mindset into your company and crews.

Set an Agenda and a Consistent Structure. Keep meetings brief (an hour or less), and start and end on time. It also helps to set a recurring day of the week or month and time so everyone knows when the meeting is without having to look. The goal is to make this feel like a natural part of your employees’ schedules.

The Meeting Tone is Your Responsibility. As a leader, the attitude toward safety starts with you. Set the tone by being positive, upbeat, and engaging, and your team will take the cue. You want employees and crews to look forward to these gatherings and not something they just have to get through.

Use Tech to Keep in Touch. Under ideal circumstances, you would hold safety meetings in person. But the Covid era has forced us to adjust our usual practices. If you can safely hold your meetings outdoors and socially distanced, that’s great and you should. If not, consider using a program like Zoom or GoToMeeting to live stream your safety meetings. This also gives you the option to record your meetings for those who could not attend, or to save for future new hires. Use these tips to look your best on camera,

Use Real World Examples. Using real-world examples, especially if they involve your own jobsites or crew members, can bring home the topic for your team. Was there a safety incident or close call that can become a learning opportunity? Examine the situation from all sides – conditions at the jobsite, weather, what led up to the incident – to determine how to prevent future occurrences.

Make Your Meetings Interactive. Show, don’t tell. You’ll have an easier time getting your message across when you engage your audience. Re-enact scenarios with volunteers; conduct hands-on training to, say, inspect Personal Protective Equipment; demonstrate ladder or harness safety; or quiz employees on different scenarios and what they would do.

Recognize What is Going Well. Safety meetings aren’t just about what went wrong, they should also celebrate what went right. Meeting leaders should call on employees who already demonstrate best practices and ask them to share why they choose to work safely. Another tried-and-true way to recognize a job safety streak is with an “accident-free days” counter. You can also use it to rally your team toward a common goal (plus, no one wants to be the person to break a years long accident-free streak).

Highlight the Benefits. One of the most critical elements of implementing a safety-minded culture is to get buy-in from all stakeholders. Not everyone will look at potential hazards the same way, and it might be difficult at first for crews to see the benefits of safety if they see these precautions as something that will slow them down. Convey a sense that everyone is in this together and that by focusing on safety, it ensures every worker feels supported on the job and goes home each night.

As safety becomes second nature, workers will gain confidence and have fewer worries about preventable injuries. These regular meetings are a great step toward a comprehensive approach. With Safety 365, the NAHB and James Hardie have free, robust tools, which are tailored specifically to siding contractors, to help you start or enhance your company’s own program. Click here to get started today.
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