Safety presentations can either bore an audience to sleep or provide the tools and knowledge to improve the overall safety program. There is rarely an in-between when it comes to these meetings.
Whether you are a full-time safety professional or a supervisor who has safety responsibilities, you may find yourself tasked with having to put together a safety presentation with no clue of what to present on.
This post looks at the difference between a safety presentation and toolbox talks as well as provides free ideas on what to cover at your next meeting.
The Difference Between a Safety Presentation and Safety Toolbox Talk
Depending on where you work, the terms “safety presentation” and “safety toolbox talk” may be the same thing. In my opinion, a safety presentation, or safety meeting, is a longer and more structured safety training session. A safety presentation usually means a formal training session is taking place.
This usually entails securing a conference room, creating a presentation, having a sign-in sheet, creating a quiz to assess knowledge, making time in the affected employees’ schedule to participate in the training, etc.
What is Covered in a Safety Presentation?
The simple answer is anything can be a topic. A presentation can cover a required OSHA topic or it can be an in-depth behavioral safety topic as part of an ongoing safety campaign.
There is no hard and set rule, but longer meetings should be dedicated to required topics or topics that are impactful to an organization’s safety goals. These topics usually require more time and instruction for employees to be able to fully understand the information.
What is a Safety Toolbox Talk?
Safety talks are a short safety message for the members of a work crew prior to work beginning. These talks can be as short as a few minutes or longer than 20 minutes. On average, they are in the range of 5 or 10 minutes long in duration at most companies when conducted often. The talks can cover a range of topics or just a single focal point.
These talks are still meetings but they are shorter in duration and documented via a sign-in sheet. Companies will commonly set aside the time each day or week to share a short safety message with employees.
These meetings are great to keep safety at the forefront of employees’ minds and to share timely safety information. Due to the short nature of these meetings and not using a quiz to assess the employees’ knowledge, they are often not considered formal safety training sessions.
Need to Find an Idea for a Safety Presentation?
Like many of you reading this, the most difficult part for me is coming up with a topic I want to speak about. The good news is there are an endless amount of topics you can choose to talk about when discussing workplace safety.
In this article, I will discuss five different ideas for PowerPoint or Prezi-based safety presentations for longer safety meetings. All of the ideas are based on free information that is provided on this website. The topics are just expanded on to turn them from an informal safety toolbox talk into a longer and professional presentation.
The topics below are tailored more towards behavioral topics since many run-of-the-mill topics such as lockout/tagout, fall prevention, welding, etc. are thoroughly covered throughout the internet. A simple Google search will often yield completed PowerPoints on any general safety topic.
Five Ideas for Safety Presentations at Work for Your Next Safety Meeting
1 – How Observant are You? – Behavioral Safety Presentation
This is a safety talk that I wrote that I really think is good for audience engagement and works for many different audiences. Read the safety talk here and then continue reading the rest of the summary below. In short, you use a dollar bill to reinforce the fact of how easy it is to miss the fine details of something we see almost every day. It engages the audience by asking them to provide you with details of a dollar bill.
The audience almost always provides a minimal amount of details from memory. Even after you show them a dollar bill they will only state a few additional obvious details. Name off very fine details that they are not looking at and then use this exercise to relate it back to the idea of how we see our work areas every single day.
If they are missing dozens of details on a six-inch dollar bill, what are they missing while at work? The same can be said with the observations they write down on their JSAs.
Use the exercise to show that there are many different observations and hazards that can be written down for any one task. After the exercise, you can go into how the individual workers can improve their observations of the work area or their JSAs.
You can also take actual photos of work areas and discuss the hazards in the photos. Another idea is to ask for stories or experiences of commonly looked over hazards in the workplace. There are many different ways to expand on this short exercise.
2 – The Idea of the “Large Ripple” – Behavioral Safety Meeting
This is probably my favorite idea to pass on to my employees in the field. In the construction industry where I work, we are a project-based business. This means we only work with a small percentage of the whole company on our job site. I feel that it is often overlooked that what we do at our site, good or bad, can have a great effect on the company as a whole.
I call this idea the “large ripple”. You can find an article about the large ripple here. Many times, we stress how an injury or incident will affect the INDIVIDUAL, the INDIVIDUAL’s ability to work, the INDIVIDUAL’S family, etc. Well, what about everyone else in the company?
Sounds counterintuitive or weird to even tell someone right? Let me explain. If an individual feels that his/her choice to take risks and cut corners only affects him/her they may actually be MORE tempted to work unsafe.
Reinforcing the idea that we not only count on one another to stay safe, but we also count on each other to work safe so the business can continue is an interesting angle to approach. When the company thrives, everyone continues to work and has job security.
When individuals begin to choose to work unsafely, it not only affects them, it also affects their friends at work no matter how many miles they are from where an incident occurs.
3 – S.O.R.T. Your Way to a Safer Workplace – Group Activity Safety Meeting
S.O.R.T. stands for Stop, Observe, Recognize, and Take Ownership. You can find the S.O.R.T safety talk here. You can use the acronym to discuss steps to complete a thorough inspection of the work area prior to starting work. I used this as part of one of my safety presentations and incorporated the tools that have been established by both our client and our company for each of the four steps. For example, a JSA could fall under “Observe” and training could fall under “Recognize” as in recognizing hazards.
The steps are not groundbreaking, but it serves as a good model to break down the process and walkthrough observations.
This topic is great to use as a basis for a group activity meeting. The employees can take what they learn from the presentation and walk through each step as it applies to their specific work area and job tasks. Handouts can be created to supplement what was taught in the presentation.
4 – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as it Relates to Safety – Behavioral Safety Meeting
This is an article I wrote a few years ago about how the Hierarchy of Needs can be related to workplace safety. In short, it relates how small considerations for the employees can translate to a safer workplace. If employees are worried about things like where to use a bathroom or if they will have time to eat, their mind is not focused on work.
As management, there are many things we can do so that employees satisfy their physiological needs (Maslow’s lowest level of the hierarchy) to help them focus on higher levels of personal fulfillment.
While I only discuss the lowest level of the hierarchy in my article, every level could be related back to safety in some aspects.
The target audience for this talk is more of a management/supervisor level who can take the message and make improvements at their site for the employees. They can also take the message and make it a focal point for employees to recognize and address how these basic needs can interfere with their ability to fully work safely.
5 – Success is the Fulfillment of Potential – Behavioral Safety Meeting
While this can be a personal mantra, the idea also applies to workplace safety. Every company ultimately strives for zero injuries and zero property damage incidents on a recurring annual basis. While that can be a tough target to hit, it can be the company’s potential in the realm of workplace safety.
The idea that success is the fulfillment of potential can be further discussed at the individual level. From there, cast out to how the individual level affects the company on a macro scale. If everyone is fulfilling their potential when it comes to being the safest and most efficient worker they can be, everyone wins.
It is important to drive home the point that fulfillment of potential in just one area does not make someone successful. Someone who is the best dozer operator in the company but cannot get along with others is less successful than an above-average operator who is able to communicate and work with others.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but being self-aware of how we can improve as a person is critical to success. This idea can be paired with the larger ripple discussion mentioned above to make for an effective and different safety presentation.
I hope one of the five topics above has got your wheels spinning on different routes you can take on your next safety presentation. Look at all the safety talks or longer articles in the Safety Pro Blog for additional ideas. Any of these ideas can be paired with other ideas to make an effective presentation.
Even if you have a certain topic you have to cover think outside the box to refresh them. Conducting safety presentations does not have to be stressful!
Please reach out to me at [email protected] if you have any questions on any of these topics. Sign up for my mailing list below to receive useful resources for safety talks. Please share if you found this or other articles useful.
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