5 Simple and Powerful Safety Meeting Topics

Keeping your safety meetings interesting to your employees can sometimes be a challenge. Below are five simple yet very powerful meeting ideas that you can use to help continue to promote your culture of safety.


Watch Face Exercise – At the TCIA’s 2018 Winter Management Conference, Jim Spigener stated that 75% of all work related fatalities in the United States come from making a mistake while doing routine work. 75%!! To prove this point, he asked everyone to write down as many details about the face of your favorite watch. He said to include specifics like colors, what the numbers look like, what shape are the hands of the watch, etc. It was shocking to see how difficult it was to explain something as common as my favorite watch. This exercise will make the connection that we take routine items and tasks for granted which could lead to a serious accident.


Scenario Training – Gather your team in small groups and have the team write out three near miss scenarios from their personal experience. Then instruct the group to discuss the events and create solutions to avoid this near miss in the future. Have a team member from each group share their group’s near misses and solutions. This promotes open communication between team members and encourages everyone to continue to better themselves to be safe every day.


Old Rope Under Tension – Because many Arborists learn by watching something happen, this meeting topic shows the importance of always having a second line secured while making a cut. Take an old rope that is out of commission and put it under tension in a vertical setting like it would be when climbing a tree. Use a handsaw to lightly touch the rope until the rope fails. If you have enough rope, split your team up into groups to perform the same test. When the arborist realizes how little pressure is needed from the handsaw to compromise the rope, you should never again see someone not being tied in twice before making a cut.


What is Your Safety Story? – I wrote an entire post on this idea in a previous article (click here for it), however, it was such an easy, influential topic, I wanted to mention it again. Begin the safety meeting by asking everyone to write down a time when safety mattered to them. It could be from a serious accident that happened to them or one they witnessed. It could be from an event they heard about. Whatever it is, everyone has a story about the importance of safety that gets to their core. After everyone is done writing, explain why safety matters to you and what your safety story is. Then break the team up into small groups to discuss their individual safety stories. While this is similar to the Scenario Training exercise, this meeting idea should help employees dig deeper to find their motivator for safe behavior. When you focus on personal stories that revolve around safety, the message of working safe becomes a reality for your team.


Chainsaw Demo – Gather your team around a log in your yard. Tell everyone to watch very closely as the chain tears through the log easily. Ask them to take note of the sounds that it makes, the sight of the wood chips flying, perhaps the smell of the exhaust, chain oil and gas mixture. Get them to really be present in the moment of how powerful this machine is. Turn off the saw and pause, for dramatic effect. Quietly ask your team, what would they hear, see and smell if that saw was going through one of their limbs. A chainsaw is the most common tool that we use as Arborists and like our watch face, very often we take for granted what we use every day. When your team really thinks about the damage that a chainsaw can do and how quickly it can happen, there should be no reason that chaps are left in the truck.


There you go, five simple yet extremely powerful ideas to keep your safety meetings fresh and make safety personal to everyone on your team. By committing to safety excellence, we all can make sure that every arborist gets home safe each night.


Lastly, I want to credit Scott Jamieson of Bartlett Tree Experts for sharing the Scenario Training, Old Rope Under Tension and Safety Story meeting ideas at a TCIA Roundtable that ArboRisk hosted back in June of 2018. Thanks for your dedication to the industry Scott!

Written by: Eric Petersen