Safety Meeting Outlines 101 – A Guide For Managers

Posted 30.03.22 by:

Setting up your safety meeting outlines can be challenging. It’s easy to decide on a safety topic but delivering a meaningful safety meeting where you’re getting buy-in from your team is something else entirely. 

Safety meetings are necessary to support workplace safety, hazard awareness, and a robust culture of safety-oriented workers. Hosting regular safety meetings at work is an intelligent way to support all three workplace safety initiatives.

This guide will walk you through the basic concepts of setting up safety meeting outlines. We’ll provide a couple of examples and even discuss some of the finer points of safety meeting presentation, so stick with us for this journey into safety meeting outlines and presentation.

Setting Up Your Outline

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When starting your safety meeting outline, several questions should come to mind:

  • Who can present safety meetings at work?
  • How do I pick a topic?
  • What should you include in a safety meeting?
  • What are O.S.H.A. requirements for safety meetings?

Let’s start with these fundamental questions and branch out from there.

Who Can Present A Safety Meeting 

Each country, and often each state or province, has its own safety meetings rules. However, the consensus in most regions is that the person who is responsible for hosting safety meetings must comply with a few parameters:

  1. The person responsible for hosting safety meetings should be a designated individual or individuals accountable for the meeting.
  2. The person or person(s) responsible for hosting the safety meetings should possess adequate training to deliver the information on each topic correctly.

These rules are general and not typically mandated in most areas but are more of a common-sense requirement. At the end of the day, tasking someone without the knowledge to present a safety meeting is not managing the situation effectively or with due diligence.

If you’re in the United States, look at the O.S.H.A. Safety and Health Programs in the States White Paper that describes each of the 50 states’ particular requirements in detail. However, the white paper merely states generalized requirements for safety programs. It does not get into particulars regarding who can host such an event.

How To Pick A Topic

Choosing a topic to present for your safety meeting is usually quite simple. However, if you’ve hit a bit of brainstorm block, consider the following when selecting a safety meeting topic:

  1. Are there job-specific hazards that have not been addressed recently?
  2. Are there industry-specific hazards that you have not covered recently?
  3. How about seasonal hazards? Have you covered the current season?
  4. What are the top 3 hazards at your workplace? Have the prevention or safety topics regarding these hazards had any safety meeting time exposure recently?
  5. Are there any in-house safety training materials that need a refresher?
  6. Is there any new staff that needs in-house training (via a safety meeting) that would be good for veteran team members to be refreshed?

Typically, you have a strong safety meeting regiment if you’ve answered no to all these six questions. However, most companies and organizations find a topic before getting to the third question. After all, most industries aren’t operating in a magical bubble of safety where no hazards exist. So finding a relevant topic should come pretty easily.

If you’re in the construction industry and looking for safety topics, check out our post: 12 Safety Topics For Construction Not To Overlook.

What To Include In A Safety Meeting 

It is commonly understood that a safety meeting outline should include four primary elements at the minimum. Those primary elements are:

  1. Discuss workplace hazards and risks
  2. Train and reinforce safe work practices to mitigate the risks discussed
  3. Discuss previous relative incidents and how team members might have avoided them
  4. Allow team members to voice concerns

Discuss Workplace Hazards And Risks

According to the National Safety Council, 4,113 preventable injury-related deaths occurred in 2020 workplaces. That’s 3 out of every 100,000 full-time workers who died in a preventable incident. If these numbers don’t shock you, you need to reconsider your desensitization levels. Discussing severe hazards and risks with the team is the only way to draw their awareness to the threats. Wouldn’t it be great to reduce that number to under a thousand? Or even better – none?

Train And Reinforce Safe Work Practices To Mitigate The Risks Discussed

It’s one thing to mention a specific hazard. It’s entirely different to train staff on the safe work practices that will neutralize the risk. After you have discussed specific workplace hazards pertaining to your safety meeting outline topic, it is wise to get into how to mitigate said dangers.

Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself. Let me say that again – don’t be afraid of repeating yourself. When it comes to safety, refreshing or retraining team members is the name of the game that wins. Studies show that by optimizing repetition, we can enhance human learning capability. Have you ever heard the saying practice makes perfect? It applies to all things training – safety protocol included.

Discuss Previous Relative Incidents And How People Might Have Avoided Them

Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to understand when someone is explaining something to you if it relates to your experience? By discussing previous incidents at the workplace, we do two things: 1) We encourage participation by team members who were present for, or heard about, the at-work incident. 2) We encourage buy-in by team members about the seriousness of hazards by discussing an actual incident that did occur. It is no longer a hypothetical scenario when it occurred. This fact encourages participation in future mitigation strategies.

Allow Team Members To Voice Concerns

Managers are not always privy to every potential hazard. Team members may hide specific potential risks, including fear of reprisal. Having a regular safety meeting with an open forum type of feel allows team members to relax and share their worries or concerns. In a sharing environment, we can address potentially serious hazards that might have, for political or other reasons, not otherwise have come to light.

The O.S.H.A. Requirements For Safety Meetings Explained

The O.S.H.A. in the United States has a lot to say about safety – except for how often you need to hold safety meetings. However, they do state two things quite clearly regarding employer responsibilities:

“Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements. Employers must provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.”

Let’s look at what these two statements say, if not just under the surface. The first is the communication of procedures to employees. Sure, you could write an in-company memo, but hosting a meeting is a way to dispel any myths, teach everyone present at once, and take any questions to resolve. It is a more efficient means of communication to a large group.

The second statement about providing safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand points again to using a safety meeting as a perfect delivery vehicle for this process.

By examining these statements, we see that although not a direct mandate, hosting safety meetings satisfies more than one aspect of the O.S.H.A. requirements for employer responsibilities.

In the United Kingdom, the requirements for safety meetings become slightly less murky. According to the H.S.E. (Health and Safety Executive), no real mandated intervals are required for safety meetings. However, it should be clear that if two or more union workers request (in writing) that a health and safety committee forms, then you must do it. Similarly, health and safety committees are expected to meet regularly. The frequency of meetings should relate to the volume of business, size of the workforce, type of work, associated amount and severity of the risk, and other factors. Typically, it is a common-sense situation. Most service industries and other hazard enriched industries typically hold weekly safety meetings. Still, again, the frequency is not set in stone at the H.S.E.

The Outline Setup In 4 Steps

By this point, you should have a pretty good grasp of what we need to include in the safety meeting outline. However, to simplify the process, let’s break it down into four steps.

  1. Determine your safety topic.
  2. Note all relative hazards to address.
  3. Note a previous related incident. Note the particulars and how team members mitigated the incident.
  4. Note the best safety practices for both prevention and mitigation of the hazards.

Don’t forget to leave room on your outline, or even use a different means of recording the points and thoughts that team members bring to the table during the open forum portion of the meeting. Notes will most definitely be required.

Sample Safety Meeting Outline – A Service Industry Example

Here is a sample safety meeting for a hypothetical overhead door service company. Notice the key elements included.

Safety Meeting Topic: 

Ladder use. (Last covered 04/04//21)


  • Falling
  • Dropping tools
  • Overhead power lines (electrocution)

Previous Incident: 

The worker installed a ladder in a refrigerated area to inspect an overhead door assembly that jammed. The sweat on the floor produced a slippery surface, and the ladder slid out, causing the worker to fall and break their arm.

The worker was rushed to the hospital.

Avoidance and Prevention:

Team members should have noticed this situation before engaging in work activities. The refrigerated conditions were adequate to produce slippery conditions. Team members should have called for a lift instead of ladder use.

Team Member Comments:

  • Request for new hardhat for John
  • Scissor lift charging cable damaged – need replacement

Notice in the above hypothetical example that we have covered the four main points to a safety meeting and recorded some notes from team member feedback. Safety meeting outlines don’t need to be complicated. They don’t need to be a vast novel. Point form notes are fine as long as the information required is in enough detail to navigate the topic successfully.

Meeting Preparation

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Preparing for your safety meeting relies on two key concepts:

  1. Scheduling and logistics of team members’ participation
  2. Safety meeting outline completion

With these two elements in place, it is a reasonably straightforward process. However, there are likely some questions you may have. Let’s look at the most common questions about preparing for safety meetings.

How often should I have safety meetings? As mentioned earlier, most countries do not have a mandated schedule for safety meetings. The frequency of safety meetings should coincide with the risk assessment of the hazards present within the workplace. Many companies in industries with moderate to severe threats hold safety meetings weekly, and some even meet daily. 

How long should a safety meeting last? The length of a safety meeting should reflect the nature of the topic. Some safety topics will be high-speed and not require much time. Other, more complicated scenarios with multiple hazards will take more time.

Points To Consider For Safety Meeting Delivery

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You’ve got your topic picked and your outline ready. Now it’s time to master your delivery. Safety meetings can be inspiring or viewed as a hindrance; the delivery often makes the difference. With your safety meeting delivery in mind, let’s look at some common concerns regarding the delivery of safety meetings.

What makes a great safety meeting? 

We want to ensure that the meeting is successful. But, what does that success mean, exactly? An excellent safety meeting will include the following:

  • A concise explanation of the hazards in a familiar language
  • Review of processes and procedures to support safety and safe working practices
  • Buy-in by team members via the use of real-life examples
  • An open forum experience where team members will feel confident to share their feelings or concerns regarding safety and hazards within the workplace

How do you start a safety speech? 

There are many ways to start a safety meeting speech. Some managers like to use a joke to lighten the mood and get the crowd’s attention. However, comedy isn’t everyone’s forte, so you might want to consider a different tactic. 

Another popular method of starting a safety meeting is using recent or upcoming company news or announcements. One tactic that works very well is to include praise to one of the team members for a current job well-done. This tactic is used as an opener for safety meetings to help encourage participation. The tendency will be for team members to pay greater attention, secretly hoping for their praise. After all, who doesn’t like to hear they have accomplished a task to their superior’s satisfaction?

How do you speak about safety? 

The manner of your delivery is essential to team member buy-in. The mood should be encouraging inclusion. Management must include themselves in the discussion as equals with the team members. This open-forum equality will encourage buy-in and safe working culture. It will also encourage team members to participate in maintaining and improving safety standards.

How can you improve safety in a meeting? 

Some consider safety meetings inadequate and thus a waste of resources. However, you can improve how effective the safety meetings are by improving team member participation. Here are a few tricks to get your team more involved and enhance the safety meeting’s effectiveness:

  1. Choose relevant topics and use relevant examples. As mentioned earlier, people will pay more attention when they can relate.
  2. Provide positive feedback. Some managers like to single out team members’ inadequate behaviors regarding safety. They might joke around and say things like “Don’t do this task like this guy” or some other derogatory comment, thinking it is a good joke to lighten the mood. However, the old saying that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar couldn’t be more relevant. Aside from potential workplace harassment issues by singling out staff, using negative reinforcement does not equate to healthy workplace culture. So, it would be best to make it a habit to mention positive actions by team members in meetings. Positivity is key to team member engagement.
  3. Please keep it simple. Have you heard the K.I.S. rule? Please keep it simple! Keeping the meeting simple with everyday language that staff understand and resonate with is essential to the meeting’s success. Using too many technical terms or jargon that staff does not associate with is a sure-fire way to lose the team’s attention.
  4. Maintain enthusiasm for safety. You can talk about safety, but if you don’t show your spirit for supporting it, staff will not buy in. It is like watching a bad actor attempt a problematic role. You can see they aren’t into it. A good actor will be believable. If you are enthusiastic about safety, people will be more inclined to believe you. When the team believes that management has their safety in mind, the culture will improve dramatically. Just ensure it’s genuine enthusiasm and not acting like our illustrative example.

The Safety Meeting Outline – Final Thoughts

The article discusses how to improve team member participation in safety meetings and offers a few tips on doing so. It emphasizes the importance of choosing relevant topics and providing positive feedback to team members. The article also recommends keeping safety meetings simple and maintaining enthusiasm for safety among management.

With the easy-to-follow steps we’ve provided, you should be on your way to achieving meaningful and successful safety meetings. However, do you have a system for reporting the very incidents you might discuss in your meetings?

Suppose you want to ensure that your company improves safety. In that case, you will need a robust reporting and management system for dealing with incidents and hazards. From hazard analysis to incident reporting, you need a platform you can rely on. Something easy for team members to operate and improves buy-in to the safety mentality you are trying to improve.

Enter the 1st Reporting app – A cloud-based application we developed specifically to help managers like you maintain organized systems of hazard reporting and control. It’s got some great features like customizable notifications, global report search functionality, and mobile, so it works on most Android or iOS devices. 

We could go on all day about how helpful the app is, with its automation, customization, and even incident trend reports. Still, we think you’re better off checking it out for yourself. The app is available on Google Play, The Apple App Store, and the link below. Give it a try today, and find out how technology can help you with more than just safety meetings.

Start reporting today

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