All employers are required under the HSE Act to provide reasonable opportunities for their employees to participate effectively in processes for improving health and safety at work; and some employers, (depending on size of workplace or on whether there is direct employee interest) in cooperation with employees and any unions representing them, are required to develop a system for employee participation. Health and Safety meetings help to meet some of these obligations.
Maureen Alvarez also offered some additional explanations:
Safety meetings are important to the success of your safety program because they impact all of the following:
Safety meetings encourage safety awareness. Other means of getting the safety message across are often too easily ignored. But, when a group of workers get together to discuss the hazards they have encountered and the steps they can take to eliminate them, it increases each worker's safety consciousness.
Safety meetings get employees actively involved. In a sense, safety meetings put employees "on the spot"; that is, they demand feedback. They get employees thinking about safety and encourage them to come up with ideas and suggestions for preventing accidents and minimising the hazards with which they are most familiar.
Safety meetings motivate employees to follow proper safety practices. Small group meetings are the best place to demonstrate the uses of protective equipment, proper lifting techniques and other safety procedures.
Safety meetings can help to nip safety hazards in the bud. A safety meeting is the time to pinpoint minor hazards before they result in real problems. It also presents a good opportunity to discuss hazards that are inherent in the environment and that experienced employees are likely to take for granted.
Safety meetings introduce workers to new safety rules, equipment and preventive practices. In addition to introducing new things, a safety meeting is a good time to reinforce the importance of long-standing safety procedures and to remind employees of the reasons behind them.
Safety meetings provide vital information on accident causes and types. Regular meetings are the best way of keeping employees up-to-date on the hazards in their environment and what can be done about them. They also make it easier for the company to maintain accurate accident statistics, an important tool in tracing the progress of prevention efforts.
"The Anatomy of a Safety Meeting" By Maureen Alvarez, CIH, CSP