Keeping Up with Safety Meetings Keeps Employees Happy
A lot was put by the wayside during the pandemic including Safety Committee Meetings. Unfortunately, during that time, many employees became overworked and frustrated, with double shifts, covering for co-workers’ illness, and making up safety protocols and procedures on the fly (with guidance of the CDC). When surveyed, a lot of people felt alone and unsupported during the pandemic and 46 percent indicated they are likely to leave a job because of loneliness. In another survey, researchers found that, “More than half of employees who left their job in the past six months did not feel valued by their organization (54 percent) or manager (52 percent), or they lacked a sense of belonging (51 percent). Additionally, 46 percent cited the desire to work with people who trust and care for each other as another reason to quit. Employees want stronger relationships, [and] a sense of connection.” When talking with my policy holders, many employees indicate the lack of regular safety committee meetings contributed to their feelings of isolation.
Safety meetings are often a time and place for employees to regroup, discuss the challenges of their jobs, and to be heard. OSHA Rule 1960.37 states that committees shall establish a regular schedule of meetings and special meetings shall be held as necessary. This continuity of safety and health conversations can help establish and maintain employee engagement.
For all these reasons, and others, sustaining a safety committee should be a top priority for employers. But what should a successful safety meeting include?
Safety committee meeting agendas should include reviewing injuries and determining the root cause to prevent incidents from reoccurring. They cover new business – a time staff members can bring up safety concerns, challenges, and suggestions for the leadership team to consider. The meetings often include a review of department inspections for safety and health hazards. The meetings are a time for employees to be heard concerning challenges of employment (overtime, teamwork, training, etc.). And the meetings provide time to review safety goals to help maintain a strong safety culture while concurrently informing staff from all departments of the company’s mission.
Still, motivating employees to engage in safety meetings can pose a challenge. So, employers must become creative with the involvement process. Some incorporate employee wellness committees with the safety committee and bring a fruit basket to enjoy during the gathering. Some post seasonal safety reminders and raffle gas cards during the meeting for those in attendance who can correctly recite posted safety materials. Some will elect a safety committee chairperson from each department to represent the committee, champion the safety materials and act as a facilitator of information between the committee and their department.
Remote workers may have an easier time scheduling regular meetings since they may lack the distractions inherent in a brick-and-mortar office environment. Presenting documents virtually may allow all members to view and learn concurrently, as opposed to passing around materials in an in-person meeting. Committee members can stay more engaged if they are assigned a task, such as minute taker, chat box reviewer, or feedback recovery.
In general, meetings do not need an overly formal structure or specific documentation to be effective, but consistency is key. And remember that maintaining a safety committee is not just the responsibility of the leadership team. Safety is a priority for all of us. And we should all be involved. Requirements vary by state and can be found on your state’s Department of Labor website, or policy holders can access safety BLR for state by state guidance.
As they have proven to be a time and place for staff to regroup and openly discuss issues or concerns in their professional environment, maintaining regularly scheduled safety committee meetings is pivotal to enhancing the safety culture, and may help with employee retention based on satisfaction.
For more information to guide development or enhance improvement, policy holders can access MEMIC's online safety resources including ‘Safety Committee Booklet: Leading an Effective Safety Committee’.
- The Soft Science of Safety Culture
- COVID’s Silent Workplace Health Threat: Safety Awareness
- Engaged Employees are Safer Employees