Last year, Peter Watson was appointed to a seven-year term as chairman of the Calgary-based National Energy Board (NEB). In November, he launched an initiative to gather feedback from Canadians regarding how the board can improve its pipeline safety program. Watson has visited 19 cities in seven provinces so far, including a visit to Edmonton for meetings with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and Northeast Region CAER. The NEB’s official report will be released by early 2016.
The NEB regulates the life cycle of more than 75,000 kilometres of interprovincial pipeline and is responsible for public safety associated with those facilities. When David Howell of the Edmonton Journal asked Watson what feedback he heard most during his tour, Watson stated, “People…want to know that the pipes are safe… that we’re protecting the lands they value in their communities.”
Their response underscores the importance of practicing a series of safety steps including facilitating effective tool box meetings—brief presentations that reinforce safety training, heighten employee awareness of workplace hazards and safety regulations, and improve safety performance. Simply repeating rules every so often will not impact work culture. To facilitate effective safety meetings, follow these three tips.
- Pick the presenter based on his/her leadership level. Resist the temptation to delegate this extremely important responsibility to anyone other than a supervisor, foreman or similar level-manager with direct supervision over workers. Bob Synnett, president and founder of Safety Management Consultants, stated “Don’t delegate this important task. When tool box safety meetings are facilitated by a credible supervisor or person of similar responsibility, it’s far more likely the training will be taken seriously.”
- Present the safety talk instead of reading it. Synnett, stated “It will be far more effective if the presenter reviews topic materials before the meeting, and then presents the topic.” It is appropriate to refer to notes, however make sure that you are knowledgeable about all topics because you will speak more confidently when presenting. Dale Carnegie said, “Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident,” so review the info you are presenting before the talk. Speak clearly and concisely—not too fast or too slowly so as not to lose anyone in the audience. Use props appropriately—anything that will encourage employees to pay attention for maximum retention.
- Control the location and total tool box talk duration. Choose an area that is free of noise and other distractions otherwise it will be difficult for workers to hear the safety talk. Just 5-10 minutes should suffice because the presenter can address one specific hazard and the respective safeguards. If there is more information to review, consider distributing a short handout for workers to read. Keep it brief, written in clear language outlining specific steps workers must take to prevent injury or illness.
For all of your professional growth goals, including how to run more effective safety meetings and investing in proven negotiation training, consider enrolling in the Dale Carnegie Effective Communications course to reach your ultimate potential.
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