Contributors from PepTalk: Caitlin Kirwan, Content Writer, and Haelee Reis, Marketing Manager
Workplace safety should be a top priority for every organization, but around 340 million work-related accidents still happen across the world every single year.
Workplace accidents range from minor slips, trips, and falls to serious incidents that have long-lasting effects on employees and their families.
Employers need to take proactive measures to maintain a high level of safety in the workplace, which is where safety stand downs come in. This blog describes the meaning of a safety stand down, why safety is so important, and how to deliver a successful stand down event that improves safety performance.
What is a safety stand down?
A ‘safety stand down’ is a meeting where operations are paused for employees and leaders to connect on safety-related issues. It presents an opportunity for two-way communication about workplace hazards and risks, which is essential for establishing a strong culture of safety in the workplace.
Safety stand downs often include discussions on protective measures, safety policies, reminders about reporting procedures, and training. They can also involve equipment testing, demonstrations, and the opportunity for team members to provide feedback and raise any safety concerns.
The importance of safety in the workplace
- Reduced accidents and incidents: Most importantly, making workplace safety a priority decreases the risk of accidents and injuries, which results in fewer employee absences and healthier workers.
- Lower employee turnover: Research has found that employees working for organizations with a more proactive approach to workplace health and safety have higher levels of job satisfaction and are less likely to leave.
- Improved motivation and productivity: The same study found that employees who work for organizations that are committed to workplace safety are more motivated, productive, and energetic.
- Better business reputation: Bad news travels fast, and an organization known for taking risks and exposing its employees to hazardous situations is unlikely to attract new investors, clients, customers, or top candidates. Prioritizing workplace safety strengthens your reputation as a responsible employer.
How to deliver a successful safety stand down
- Do the groundwork to ensure attendance
- Set clear objectives and agenda items
- Prioritize engagement and participation
A successful safety stand down involves operations being paused and employees taking time away from their work, so leaders must be prepared, well-organized, and ready for the event.
Let’s explore the 3 tips for a successful safety stand down in more detail:
Tip 1: Do the groundwork to ensure attendance
Hosting an effective safety stand down requires an investment of time and energy from both leaders and employees. To have the biggest impact, some important groundwork needs to take place.
It’s always tempting to jump straight to action, but taking the time to work through the below checklist will ensure your safety stand down has the best possible attendance.
Copy and paste the below checklist to use within your organization:
- Work with operational teams to agree on an appropriate date and time for operations to be paused
- Decide on an appropriate location and ensure equipment is available
- Promote the event and ask team leaders to remind their employees in the week leading up to the event
- Ask employees to submit safety-related questions and suggestions in advance
- Establish the key topics and speakers for the stand down
Tip 2: Set clear objectives and agenda items
Once you’ve done the groundwork, attention can turn to identifying objectives and agenda items.
It’s important that employees don’t feel as though their time is being wasted, so be sure to set clear objectives for the safety stand down.
Some safety stand down events will be centered around a specific topic, such as training for a new piece of equipment, correct PPE usage, or safety when working at heights. But some will be more general, covering multiple safety-related items such as creating an effective safety culture, encouraging incident reporting, and other broader topics.
Whatever the focus areas, the messaging needs to be clear and concise.
Inviting multiple leaders from across the organization to speak on different topics makes the event more interesting and helps keep employees engaged.
The following format can be used to create an agenda for each topic:
—–Name of speaker –
—–Time allocated –
- Why we are covering the topic (i.e. we’ve seen an increase in ….)
- What we want to achieve (i.e. we want to reduce the number of …)
- What employees said about the topic when we asked for feedback ahead of this session
- What actions need to be taken
- Invite any suggestions, questions, and other feedback on the topic
- Next steps
Tip 3: Prioritize engagement and participation
We saved the most important ‘til last!
Promoting attendee engagement and participation is the key to a successful safety stand down.
Make the event more interesting by incorporating practical demonstrations and challenges. Keep presentations short and punchy, and spend more time asking questions and facilitating discussions. Use real-life case studies and examples to show employees why the topic is so important, and why you’ve paused operations to discuss it.
A safety stand down should not be the kind of event where employees are asked to sit in a chair and watch a long presentation. Instead, it should be engaging, interesting, and relevant to their daily experiences.
How to improve safety performance at work
There are many ways to improve safety performance at work, and sometimes the smallest actions have the biggest impact.
Around the world, 3 of the most common workplace accidents that result in employees taking time off work are:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Repetitive strain
- Falling objects
These accidents are almost completely preventable by creating a positive culture of safety within your organization, including frequent safety training, effective two-way communication, robust procedures and systems, regular inspections, and risk assessments.
Engaging employees with safety is a huge part of improving safety performance, and tools such as safety stand down events offer a great way to build connections. The PepTalk platform offers proactive solutions to measure this all-important engagement by gathering people-centric data to create action plans tailored to your specific needs.
Our approach helps build a culture of safety that reduces preventable accidents and keeps your people physically and psychologically safe. Find out more about how we can help your organization!