Our safety meetings must mean something

As I review safety data, as well as programs on the various properties we have under contract, I ask, “What can be done to improve the safety of our members?” I continue to find myself going back to the basics.

Many of our employers are captivated by consultant recommendations that will generally include a new program. It is typically considered the latest and greatest. Some may say it is the “flavor of the day.” 

My opinion about “going back to the basics” was further supported by two consultants from the Sommerville Group. Their theory is that, “Intrinsic motivation is the answer.” It hits the nail on the head.

How do you develop intrinsic motivation among our Brothers and Sisters? One basic approach is to have meaningful safety meetings that are designed to motivate our members. We should have meaningful discussions regarding workplace hazards and agree on corrective actions for healthy results.


To ensure that safety meetings run smoothly and effectively, the involvement of all of our members is critical. With this simplistic thought in mind, we know the reality is that there are obstacles such as:

  • Member/employee distrust.
  • Atmosphere of fear.
  • Lack of leadership.
  • Employer implementation of too many new programs in anticipation of quick results.
  • Poor training.
  • Emphasis on budget or production.
  • Aging workforce.
  • Minimal staffing levels.

We will achieve our goals only by encouraging member involvement. We as union members must find ways to keep our members actively engaged in safety. Take the frustrations listed above out of the equation.

As a local union, we are failing. We must do a better job of recognizing the ambassadors of safety in the workplace. As a union, we sometimes fail to let our members know that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. Although Local 1439 has a history of developing leaders in our organization, we fail to develop leaders in safety.

We will be looking for assistance in this challenge to do a better job of improving safety for our members. We also must keep in mind that although our employers request our assistance, in most cases we do not have the ability to influence their programs.

One of the principals of the IBEW Code of Excellence is safety. If you would like to become part of this initiative, contact me at the union office.