Our duty here at Tree Services magazine is to serve the tree care and arboriculture industry by providing educational content, professional insight and product information to help you build a safe and successful business.

Did you notice I emphasized the word “safe?” This was done for a reason — we repeatedly harp on safety practices in this publication; here in print, on our website and in our social media posts. We do this, over and over, because we know that safety is your top concern as an arborist working in the field.

With that being said, let’s focus on safety once again: the safety meeting. The 2016 Tree Care Industry Expo featured an interesting, engaging and informative session titled “Conducting an Effective Safety Meeting” presented by Nicholas Bomber, CTSP, director of safety training and general tree care for SavATree. Bomber’s presentation provided a roadmap on how and when to conduct safety meetings, ideas for possible agendas and ways to make otherwise mundane meetings more engaging and effective.

We feel this a crucial topic, so here’s some additional takeaways about safety meetings Bomber provided:

A sample safety meeting agenda could include the following: Welcome (sign in, introduce new employees); safety topic (previous incident review, tailgate session topic); educational topic (gear check); operational topic (daily duties); acknowledgments (job, or jobs, well done); wrap-up (lesson highlights).

Training techniques should be varied: Avoid repeating the same message — with the same presentation – in your safety meetings. To avoid putting your employees/your crew to sleep, try the following: Use visuals (pictures, images, diagrams); auditory items (some people prefer using sound to learn, as opposed to reading words); verbal (read content aloud); social (have employees work with and talk to each other); solitary self-study (some people prefer learning on their own as opposed to a group setting). Keep in mind that when varying training techniques, you’ll need to know the personality of your crew members and each person’s individual tendencies and traits.

Provide a safety culture: As a manager or business owner, it’s on you to provide a safety culture at your company.

This involves a commitment to safety at all levels, investing in the health and safety of your crew and having systems and methods in place while providing them to everyone.

Stay informed: Safety meetings are an excellent, convenient and easy opportunity to introduce and build awareness of new techniques, new equipment or new regulations that must be observed.

Other tips when running an effective and successful safety meeting: Start on time; be prepared and organized; be seen and heard by all present; avoid and minimize distractions; make sure to have some kind of audience involvement and be interesting!

Per the Tree Care Industry Association, of the 147 accidents reported to OSHA and industry colleagues in 2015, 92 were fatal. In 2014, 81 of 126 were fatal. In 2013, 79 were fatal.

As you can see, the number of fatal incidents has increased each of the last few years.

Let’s work together to reverse the trend. It all starts with productive safety meetings.

Read more: TCIA Report: Trends in Tree Care Incidents in 2016