Why Is It Important to Hold Safety Meetings?
Safety meetings are a key tool in reminding workers to stay safe and follow proper protocols when out on the job. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss potential safety issues, review past incidents, and educate workers on how to perform their tasks with reduced risk of injury or illness. For many construction companies, safety meetings are also required by state law. Knowing why you need to hold these meetings will help them be more productive and help ensure that workers get the information and training they need to work safely.
As a point of clarity, safety meetings are not the same as toolbox talks. Toolbox talks focus on a specific issue or hazard for a specific project at a point in time. For example, they may focus on trenches one week, then fall protection once the walls are up. Also, only workers on a specific site attend them. Safety meetings, on the other hand, are company-wide and generally focus on overall safety issues that all employees may encounter on the job.
Now that we’re clear on what safety meetings are, let’s see why they are important for construction contractors.
Safety meetings are required in construction
Safety meetings are required for many construction companies by the federal and state statutes that establish and govern OSHA. The OSHA requirements for safety meetings are different depending on what state your company is located in.
In Oregon, construction companies are required to hold safety meetings unless they are a sole proprietorship with no employees. Also, if a company has ten or fewer employees, they can elect to hold safety meetings or create a safety committee. In Oregon, there are safety meeting requirements you should know about:
- Meetings must be attended by all members of the company, including ownership and management, if they are available. Take attendance by circulating a safety meeting sign-in sheet that lists all employees attending.
- Construction companies are required to hold safety meetings at least once a month and at the beginning of each job that lasts more than a week.
- Meeting agendas should include discussing safety concerns and any recent accidents, what caused them, and how they can be prevented in the future.
- In construction, you must keep minutes of each meeting.
- If you are a subcontractor and your employees attend the general contractor’s safety meetings on site, you don’t have to hold a separate safety meeting for your employees. However, you need to get a copy of the minutes from those meetings and keep them on file for three years. You must also meet with your employees separately to discuss any accidents.
In Washington, companies with ten or fewer employees can hold regular safety meetings in lieu of having a safety committee. Like Oregon, Washington has requirements for these meetings:
- Meetings must be held at least monthly, and more often if safety issues come up that need immediate attention.
- At least one management representative must attend each meeting.
- Meetings must include the following topics:
- Review safety and health inspection reports to identify and help correct hazards.
- Evaluate accident investigations to determine if the cause(s) were identified and corrected.
- Evaluate the workplace accident and illness prevention program and discuss recommendations for improvement, if needed.
- Meeting attendance and topics discussed must be documented.
Safety meetings help prevent accidents
By discussing and brainstorming ideas to safely prevent workplace hazards from injuring workers, safety meetings can help prevent on-the-job accidents or illnesses. Reminding workers of how to do their jobs safely also helps eliminate complacency.
Safety meetings raise awareness
It’s easy for workers to get into the habit of completing their work without much thought to safety. This complacency can lead to unsafe work practices. By holding regular meetings, you can help ensure that workers are more aware of their practices and approach each task with care.
Safety meetings are part of a safety-minded company culture
To help attract new workers and keep long-time ones, it pays to have a company culture that emphasizes safety. Holding regular safety meetings can effectively communicate that safety is a priority, making your company more attractive to workers.
Safety meetings help you get worker feedback and brainstorm ideas
A team atmosphere is nurtured when employees are asked for feedback and work together with management to develop ideas on how to prevent safety issues. Involving everyone helps employees feel more included, which improves morale.
Safety meeting topics for construction companies
Safety meetings should include discussion of current concerns and any past incidents that have occurred since the last meeting. If you’re finding it difficult to come up with topics to discuss, there’s no better place to start than OSHA’s top ten violations for the past year. Discussions should include the nature of each hazard and how workers can prevent injury through PPE and other safe work practices.
Another option is to provide training for workers during each meeting. ACO has lots of online class options to help educate workers, and credits can be used to meet your continuing education requirements.