• 20 August 2014

What to talk about in a construction safety meeting

Coming up with topics to discuss at safety meetings is not as difficult as it may appear. There are a large number of main safety categories with hundreds of sub-categories for in-depth discussions. 

It is important to remember that you do need to keep your topics relevant - forklift safety is obviously not going to be an issue on a site that doesn’t possess any forklifts. Another key thing to do is get your workers involved in your discussions as it will help them retain the information and may also uncover new areas to explore. 

Don’t forget to take a walk around your construction site on regular occasions. Even on the safest sites, you are likely to notice at least one issue that requires improvement. Make notes of what you see and review any information available on any accidents that have occurred on the site, no matter how minor they appear to be. On top of all of this, make sure you always consider the largest areas of safety violations that apply to your site. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

PPE issues apply to any construction site. Almost any site will require the use of hard hats and protective eyewear. Your site may not require metatarsal work boots, but certain footwear would be a violation, so ensure this information is communicated to all. Consider the in-depth requirements of each mandatory safety item and discuss why the protection is required.

Have a discussion about hard hats. Your workers need to understand that this requirement provides more than just impact protection. Hard hats also protect against electrical shock and burns. Discuss the fact that hard hats have expiration dates and must be replaced after any signs of damage.

Protective eyewear is not designed just for certain employees. Anyone on a site can come into contact with flying or falling debris. Sparks from welding or a bad electrical connection can travel several feet. Chemical splashes or even exposure to gases are also reasons for using the right PPE, so ensure that these issues are regularly discussed. 

Use a meeting to talk about protective footwear as well. The right boots are required for many reasons. Workers feet must be protected from falling objects. In addition, the soles of the boots must prevent sharp objects from contacting the foot, while also providing a slip-resistant surface. 

You now have three topics for in-depth discussion. Next, look at the work being performed on your site. Do workers need gloves or face shields? Should employees be wearing reflective vests? Are your workers exposed to loud noises? Is respiratory protection required? Each of these subjects must be considered and if the PPE is required, your workers need to understand why. 

Fall protection 

Failure to provide or use fall protection, or use the protection correctly, is a major safety issue. When you look at the number of categories under fall protection, you should have material for quite a few safety meetings. Begin with the use of the right PPE for fall safety. Your workers need to know when safety harnesses are required, and how to use them. 

Employees must also know how to use ladders correctly. They need to understand weight limitations, setting the proper angle and securing footing. Ladders must be inspected for damage before use and do your employees know that ladders should not be painted? Paint or the addition of stickers can hide damage. 

Fall protection for scaffolding and open manholes can also be discussed in depth. In addition, you must consider topics for slip and trip issues. A cluttered work area is an invitation for injury. Extension cords across walkways present both a trip hazard and an electrical hazard. 

First aid and emergency safety 

First aid and emergency safety procedures are often forgotten in safety discussions. However, all employees do need to understand basic first aid procedures and the location of first aid supplies. 

Workers must know what to do in an emergency. Include topics about the proper use of a fire extinguisher and how to evacuate the work site safely. In the event of an evacuation, your workers should have a designated meeting place and a responsible party to report to. 

Learn about what safety violations are the most frequent

If you find yourself running out of ideas, go over a list of the most frequently cited violations. During 2013, falls in construction were cited as the most common cause of major injury to employees.

Also on the list were:

  • Slips, trips and falls on the level
  • Being struck by moving / falling objects
  • Handling
  • Being hit by a moving vehicle
  • A collapse / overturn

Most construction sites will encounter the majority of the issues on the list above and therefore gives you plenty of reasons to carry out regular safety meetings. It is crucial you do all you can to ensure that the amount of accidents occurring on your site are severely reduced and hopefully completely eradicated.

Your weekly safety meeting may only last 15 minutes, but it is still important that it takes place. When you look at the number of hours of information available, there is no reason to run out of topics to discuss. Remember there is also no harm in repeating topics every few months as this ensures that the information stays fresh in the minds of your employees.