What is a Safety Moment & Why Have Them?
Safety moments are brief safety talks or chat at the beginning of each shift, usually run up to around 5 minutes and can be about anything safety related. They are considered a low-barrier risk reduction strategy to help keep communication open, inhibit complacency and seed the potential to facilitate improvements. Designing effective safety moments and tailoring them to highlight practical safety needs and considerations is a tool that managers can use to keep engagement high and maintain a daily safety mindset.
Creating Useful Safety Moments
There are many different ways in which safety moments can be carried out within a company and using themes to direct the flow is one way that can help create structure and maintain interest and engagement. Topics that include anything around well-being are great for increasing awareness:
- Mental health
- Safety mindfulness
- Daily physical check ins
- Connectivity between colleagues
- Awareness of different areas of the body (can be changed each day/shift)
- Safe shoulder movements
- Safe spine movements
- Reflection of past incidences
- Focus on different potential safety issues that are relevant to the day ahead
- Equipment training
- Current specific projects
- Positive safety habits
Each talk could begin and end with an encouraging message that involves awareness of current mental state and physical self and then a brief example of any of the topics above. A particular topic could span over a week or two and end in a small simple quiz that gives a small prize.
We all don’t sing to the same song sheet and at a stretch, saying things like ‘be mindful, connected to your body and you’ll protect yourself’ to a lot of workers this will mean absolutely nothing. When choosing any of the topics above it is important to preach to your audience. Think about the types of workers, their demographic, their interests in general, the type of work they do and create a unique chat that will spark interest in them personally. Be creative but suitable, and if possible, somewhat humorous and definitely flexible. Flexibility is crucial, for example, a mindful meditative breathing technique session could result in raucous laughter among workers- this is/can be the perfect example of connectivity between colleagues which in turn evokes comradery; a key component to look out for each other in the field. A wonderful example of a successful safety moment.
How To Create An Effective Message
How can something so simple be missed and result in injury?
A residential care facility housing intellectually and physically impaired adults conducts a monthly routine fire emergency drill. In the garage out back, there is an evacuation emergency bag for the residents. These bags contain a profile of each resident along with spare clothing, food and items to assist them if they have to evacuate the home. Part of the routine drill involves the staff to collect this emergency bag and coerce the residents to leave the premises. It was during this routine drill that a staff member injured her shoulder so drastically it resulted in 6 months off work and then another 6 months on a return to work program. What happened? This bag was being kept on the top shelf of the garage rather than at an easy reachable place.
We can safely say that the drill did exactly what it is designed for, to iron out any foreseeable issues but what if one of the topics of these ‘Safety Moments’ was about objects at acceptable levels and potential shoulder injuries? Perhaps the employee that injured herself may have had a little more awareness when reaching high up for a heavy object, been mindful to bring it down slowly or get assistance and then recommend that the suitcase from now on, be kept on a lower level avoiding an injury.
Safety Stories as Safety Moments
The famous quote by Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
One of the best ways to get someone’s attention and to instil a feeling is to use anecdotes. Safety moments that encourage employees to come forward with any of their own stories or those of others to help evoke, if only momentary, a feeling, may assist in a mindful safety behaviour. There’s something about hearing someone share a recent personal experience, observation or incident that makes us listen more closely. When we hear a safety moment from someone and we know it’s meaningful and relevant to him or her, it’s easier to make a personal connection. And the best part? It’s very easy to do!
Stories can add a personal touch when they are relevant to a current situation. Including this in the safety moment framework and perhaps even linking each story to a safety theme can be a strategy for delivery. For example, if a worker would like to share the safety story written above, it could easily be linked to shoulder safety and ways to keep it safe at work.
The stories also don’t need to be limited to big memorable narratives. They could be recent incidents that have been in the media, past accounts or close calls that relate to any hazard or risk relevant to your workplace. As a safety manager, it can be helpful to keep a journal or a list of these and jot down any ideas as you observe or experience in everyday situations that relate to safety. These easily can be turned into an impactful safety moments that can be shared with the team.
Safety moments are an excellent way to bring workers together before a shift and a daily reminder of the importance of safety. A check in, an opportunity for connecting and keeping the conversation open. Using stories to talk about past incidences helps to create self-diligence and awareness for the day ahead. Anything we hear that impacts us on an emotional level tends to stay and can assist in the safety of our own physical and mental well-being and that of others around us.