The Practical Side of Safety.

The Practical Side of Safety. 

How to build a safety meeting that keeps your people interested yet talks and encourages ‘real’ safety.

                That is not a throwaway, ease into it, introduction.  Platitudes and wordy manuals are the death toll of every safety program.  Yet we are surrounded by gov manuals, insurance directives, company policy, paper trails; ——all-important, but each carries its own brand of poison.  Too much and your team wanders off focus, not enough and you have a blurred message.  The work is to balance what works, inside a framework of the mandates and directives.

                No one learns to stickhandle like this overnight.

We offer here an example of what works for us. 

We try and bring the message down to the personal level, and work within a secure bubble.  A solid bulwark of policy and directives about us; but we speak on the personal level, to everyone; and make safety about their values, their risk tolerance, their choices.       

                But it starts with them.

Our meetings are terrific, full of content, and participation.  As we break down one of our meetings; here is an encapsulation of the contents and structure of the meetings.  The last group, but covid spaced, the meeting we had was Nov of 2020.  Now the 2nd wave has made even these careful groupings risky; so, we are doing remote work, for all our meetings.

                Nov 20, 6am.  One of our shop bays, (another Covid forced action), Encore main yard.

                Mark had the room set up, screen at the front, chairs arranged in spaced order, and a sign-in sheet.  Breakfast snacks from admin on a side table; and every chair has a copy of the safety meeting waiting.  The program is 8 pages long, including a cover page, a content page, and 15 separate items we will be covering.

                This is a reminder, that these meetings are not a quick skim and back to work; or someone slipping the meeting into his sales or dispatch duties; this is real and ‘important’.

                The breakfast is a worked down individually wrapped version of the usual buffet.  It’s a lot of work, usually good bread or butter scones, ham slices, coffee, juice, some veggies, cheese, turkey, mayonnaise, tomatoes, pickles, but this day only sandwiches, and individual cups of coffee delivered, not a communal pot or box.   Within our little world, we try to retain a structure as close to normal as possible.  The breakfast has always been an effort, but a worthwhile and appreciated one.  I got hungry just typing the menu. 

                Within the initial welcome is a Covid distancing reminder.  At this point, everyone is seated, and spaced, all wearing masks.  Our company masks are triple layered, set up to work with lower chin differences and instructions on how to wear and cope with outside and activity fogging, of personal or safety glasses. 

                Within the contents of what’s to come, there is an agenda that encompasses a lot.  At the bottom of the page, is a highlighted reminder of a company safety value, personal ownership.  So, there is a general overview, and then a matrix or code that points everyone back to the personal level.

                The previous meeting topics are reviewed to remind everyone of past initiatives.  Mark quickly reads thru, pointing them out on the screen with his rapier laser pointer.

                The meeting really starts with the I Pause a moment, in the perfect spot, ‘before’ the job.  It is an example of a real-life situation that might apply to anyone.  This time it was “how much risk do I accept?”  Presented by the Head of Administration.  But the program was developed by consulting with all our staff and using their suggestions.  They know about this because it’s based on their input.  And we start the inclusion process.  Discussion and comments are encouraged.

                Then we go straight to business. 

The Incidents and near misses.  Everyone is on focus here.  They may be involved.  No names are mentioned but all other details; where what, how are shown, and the causes and remedies discussed.   Pictures of each are included.  Feedback is encouraged throughout the meeting, but this one is usually well detailed.  The near misses are always hot topics.  Mark usually has very graphic pictures from the site, and these are well studied.

                Any good catch is highlighted, and this type of attentive, focused work gets a deserved named mention.  Some of the good catches are really near misses, so they get a lot of attention.   We relate these; from our sites to the applicable DOT regulations; violations, perhaps even mentioning a dollar figure of the usual fine and we finish with the internal company procedures; what we expect our people to do in those circumstances.

                Again, we step from individual and site work to the wider picture and Safety policy.  All the incident and lost time data are highlighted, in our case, 1313 days since the last lost-time incident, 1009 since a medical aid; 504 days since we had a vehicle accident.  These are impressive numbers.   NO one wants to mess up this good work record. 

                Safety brings out their own message and initiatives, things he would like done.

                The Safety Committee has its own section, and their suggestions are reported.  Back to internal.

                One of the dispatchers has a few words, to employees and operators, with their suggestions. Questions and clarifications usually follow.

                There is a view from the 2nd branch of the company.  The supervisor brings concerns and recommendations while on his site, using their equipment; tips, and working suggestions.  More discussion.

                The shop manager also has a hands-on suggestion, and their practical advice refocuses our people, and discussions and questions usually arise.  Everyone pays attention to the mechanics.

                Sales and marketing are also included.  At first, it’s fun stuff, the photo of the month, work related, with the winner getting recognition and a gift.  A fun project for everyone and the photos is all looked over.

                Then their report on our sales success and some failures, and other reports on ongoing campaigns we are trying or planning.   Radio, social media, sports tickets, google, and linked in.  In any of our marketing ventures, we try and keep our people informed of and within the loop.

                Then we reach out to our employees again with a special section, Safety at Home, and a different employee every month is asked or offers a home safety idea or tip.  An idea that has been well received.

                Then we get to more fun stuff. 

A section on Employee Recognition, Praise, and Compliments. These are from outside sources, customers, or can be internal.  Each one is read out, the people named and singled out, who the client was and what the situation involved.

                Any new hires, if any, are pointed out and introduced.

                A specialty section follows.  This month was an award for Driver of the Month, from the AMTA to our long-term driver and somewhat company legend.  Mr. Jimmy Wabick.  Compliments, introductions, and pictures.

                There is a last reminder of flu shots, and the need for sanitization in this present, never-ending, pandemic we are coping with.

                And a final reminder of the next meeting with a note that it may have to be electronic.  (prophetic).

                There is a final very cool half-page picture of the Encore crane and crew setting the base of the Xmas tree in front of city hall.

                And the final word is the Mission Statement of Encore.  A great ending tones.

                And then we go to work.


Encore runs 3 safety meetings for our main yard and office.

                6 am operators and early office staff.

                8 am mechanics and available operators and office staff

                9 am main office staff and remaining operators.

Acheson, 2nd site:  nest day 3 pm

High River, 3rd site: Thursday or Friday of the same week, 2 pm 

Anyone unable to attend receives a hard or electronic copy of the final minutes or electronic copy of the final minutes.

Comments are closed.