What Is a Safety Moment?

Safety moments are a few moments at the beginning of a meeting or the start of a work day or the end of the day when employees, supervisors and/or employers spend some time thinking of a short message to help colleagues focus on safety and how best to stay safe. Safety moments are an excellent means of demonstrating a business’ commitment to the safety of its employees.

Safety moments can be defined as daily stand-up safety meetings or toolbox meetings. They include a short talk about a safety-related topic that begins or ends a work day. The safety issue might be something that came up the previous day, a heads up of an upcoming safety concern, an article of interest, or a clear and present risk that needs to be revisited. Safety moments are often more narrative and involve a dialogue rather than being a formal presentation.

Components of Successful Safety Moments

Safety moments have no specified formula. They can be practical, need-to-know facts or regulations. They can also involve sharing personal experiences and what they taught you.

Personal stories are memorable safety moments. They show vulnerability with which the listeners can clearly identify. Safety stories often motivate listeners to act as an example by buying fire extinguishers, checking batteries in smoke detectors, changing furnace filters, removing dryer lint, adding workplace signs for safe exits and keeping first aid kits up to date.

The power of a safety moment is that it demonstrates the speaker's commitment to action. It also stimulates thought and action in others. Safety moments demonstrate a willingness to share one’s own lack of safety in order to make the workplace safer.

Safety moments powerfully impact the safety culture of the workplace. It is important to ensure that the shared safety moments are practical and helpful. Safety moments should be shared with an attitude of “Here’s something I learned” rather than “This is what you should have done.”

Safety moments can be shared as a springboard for a dialogue to discuss what has been learned from the personal experience and what we can do better next time. Above all, safety moments should be constructive, not critical.

Typical Safety Moment Topics

Safety moments might deal with—but are not limited to— issues including: how to avoid falls, safe lifting of heavy loads, safe operation of construction vehicles, how to protect against workplace hearing loss. Safety moments might also involve WHIMS guidelines, review of dangerous substances, first aid in the workplace, or tips for workplace and home safety.

Not all safety moments need to be work related. Topics might include taking precautions in the sun, pool safety, beach safety, household hazardous substances, or how to protect your kids against head lice.

Goals of Safety Moments

Safety moments are used especially in industries where risks of injury or death are high. This typically includes industries including construction, industrial, nuclear and petrochemical work environments. Safety moments aim to remind employees of safe procedures, safety equipment, proper use of health and safety procedures and issues related to safety.

Besides keeping informing employees about specific safety issues, safety moments also aim to contribute to nurture a workplace safety culture which shows value for and reinforces safe practices. They are used to highlight that the company wants everyone wants to finish the day in safe and healthy shape.

How to Set up Safety Moments

While safety moments should take up no more than three to five minutes, it is important to plan for their regular inclusion in meetings and/or to make them a daily start or finish to the work day.

Known as safety moments, tool box talks, or safety chats, these safety awareness times can use a set format or they can be done in a variety of ways that change with the topic of the discussion. Your goal is to highlight an issue that has just arisen—like an accident or near-accident the day before. In a case like this, asking those involved to share their experience and then brainstorm ways to avoid a recurrence is appropriate. In a case where you are warning employees about dangers of heat stroke, a brief film or a fact sheet addressed by your healthcare personnel might work well.

Encourage employees to suggest timely topics which should be addressed at safety moments is a good way to get input, to reinforce the fact that safety is everyone’s business, and to highlight the fact that employee safety is vital to owners and employers. The safety moments themselves and the topics chosen should reinforce the importance of taking safety measures not just at work, but also at home and in the community.

Sometimes safety moments can be used to advertise an activity like CPR certification or how to use a defibrillator. These activities might be hosted by the company and available to employees and their families. Any topic which deals with how an employee and/or family at home, at work, in the community, or on holidays might be healthier or safer is good material for a safety moment.