I hope this journey down the Green Brick Road of Safety has been as much a pleasure for you as it has been for me and I thank you for allowing me to show you the sights. We are all most at the end of this trip as there are only two more legs to go. Along this road we have come to know Hazard Analysis, PPE, HouseKeeping and Emergency Ready. You would think with all this coverage available to protect your staff how could you possibly do more? AH, but you can by making sure you give good weekly safety tailgate meetings on a consistant basis.
A safety tailgate is an informal gathering of employees to discuss a safety issue or demonstrate a new feature on a piece of equipment or teach a new technique. They not only allow flexibility on how you do this but safety tailgates are great for so many other reasons. They can serve as a way to keep safety on employee’s mind in-between those monthly safety meetings. They are suited for a busy work environment since you can break your staff up into smaller groups and keep everyone else working until it’s their turn. You can also tailor your subject matter to target those safety behaviors you want to review and/or correct and best of all, tailgates are short, sweet and to the point. Just as you would in a full blown monthly safety meeting you should use a sign in sheet to track who’s attended and what topic was covered.
WHEN SHOULD YOU GIVE A TAILGATE? You should hold a tailgate at least once a week and can do it at any time on the shift you want. It’s just a short discussion that should last no more than 10-15 minutes. You can make it part of your morning Huddle* before the staff begins their work day, or hold them right after lunch. Look for what day of the week and time of day looks to be your slowest period? That may be a good time as well. (*Huddle-Like in American Football, the team gathers together to hear the next play to run. It’s a great tool to begin each shift by giving a quick rundown on the days upcoming events, whether it’s the number of deliveries expected, visitors in the building or any information that will help the staff.)
WHAT SHOULD YOU TALK ABOUT? The best topic are those most related to recent events in your facility that causes you to pull your hair out. Was there a recent near miss reported in the warehouse or did you observe an employee lifting incorrectly. Another topic could be to discuss an accident that occurred in a sister plant or in the local area and how can we avoid a similar one. Keep a reminder list for yourself about seasonal topics you’d like to cover through out the year as well like staying hydrated on extremely hot days and if you still need more inspiration, just google “Tailgate meeting topics”, you’ll wind up with many great suggestions.
HOW DO YOU GET EMPLOYEES TO LISTEN? Well food always seems to be a way to attract people and offering donuts once in awhile is nice but the best way to get them to listen is to get employees involved by having them demonstrate and share their experience. When I would cover LOTO, (Lock Out Tag Out) instead of me droning on about the associated hazards I would pick a piece of equipment, begin the tailgate there and have one of the top operators actually perform the lock out tag out on the unit. The whole nine yards. When they did an outstanding job and they always did, they were given a coupon for a free lunch at the local deli I had previously setup. You also want to create an atmosphere where people are comfortable to learn and ask questions so they need to know up front there is no such thing as a stupid question about safety, ever.
BE PREPARED. What ever topic you choose make sure you are prepared to discuss it and know what you are talking about. There is nothing worse than giving out bad information or being contradicted by an employee. If you are not sure about something, it is perfectly o.k. to tell an employee you don’t know the answer but that you’ll find out and then make sure you get back to them in a timely manner. Tailgates are also an excellent way for you to build your own confidence when it comes to public speaking. It’s much easier speaking in front of a small group of people you know and interact with on a daily basis than a room full of strangers. Just be yourself and present the material clearly and straight forward and make sure to allow time for questions by the staff.
The Green Brick Road of Safety is not an imaginary magical place. You don’t need to locate any secret hidden portals or drink any potions, it has always been there, before you all along. It’s the road that leads to a safe and productive work place. Become a safety advocate, it costs nothing to join. Keep your fellow employees safe and always keep the dialogue on safety moving forward. The life you save may be your own. Be sure to stay tuned for our next leg on this journey and don’t miss an issue. Sign up to receive your very own copy of WitzShared delivered to your email box.