Solar field crews face a variety of safety risks every day on the job. From tools and equipment to heights and electrical hazards, solar technicians need to be well-versed in recognizing potential dangers in their workplace and understanding what to do to minimize them.
Although tools such as a job hazard analysis can be useful in helping identify and document risks, nothing replaces a well-structured tailgate meeting to ensure safety awareness is top of mind before a job.
Safeopedia defines a tailgate meeting (otherwise known as a toolbox talk) as an informal onsite safety meeting that is delivered before the start of the job/shift. These are brief, 15-minute talks that a supervisor gives right before the crew begins work that day, and can cover a number of different topics. The goal of these gatherings is to inform workers on how to respond a given hazard of topic and remind them of general safety best practices.
Tailgate meeting formats can vary from company to company, and there are many resources on the internet on how to conduct a tailgate talk. However, we are going to take a step back and share a few best practices on how solar team directors or executives should manage the execution of these safety meetings:
There are two key ways you can do this: with a set schedule or by reflection.
With a set schedule…
This ensures that employees are always exposed to a new topic each time within their first year. By the time they cycle back to the first topic, they would be due for a refresher anyway or may be in a position to give the talk instead.
Schedule tailgate meetings on a regular basis. Once a week is common and manageable.
The second method involves a shorter time period; for example, a quarter instead of a year…
The advantage with this method is that you can ensure proper review of incident-related topics that might not have been absorbed as well the first time can be covered again to prevent similar accidents from happening.
it pays off to keep detailed records of past incidents and causes to perform analysis and be in a position to focus tailgate meetings on what matters most. Be sure to have reliable and accurate incident reports tracking in place!
Ensure your supervisors are knowledgeable of best practices when it comes to presenting safety talks. These include:
Have a checklist of the main topics that everyone can follow along as the tailgate meeting is in progress and can sign off at the end. Experience demonstrates that this approach significantly increases retention and buy-in.
As a manager, you are responsible for the safety of your employees. With that comes the need to supervise the development of your team’s safety repertoire so you know they are equipped with the knowledge to prevent injuries. Here are some key suggestions to help you better track and manage a tailgate meeting:
Using a technological solution to track tailgate meeting completion gives you a whole arsenal of data to better ensure that safety always remains #1 for your supervisors and field crews.
Scoop® Solar is a unique solution that incorporates mobile and cloud technology to create an intuitive field-to-office experience for your team. With innovative easy-to-build, easy-to-use WorkApps™, managers can build mobile-optimized tailgate meeting checklists that outline the points to cover in a safety topic and allow employees to sign off for attendance.
Scoop is built for field operations and can streamline processes from tailgate meeting tracking to incident reporting. Curious as to how exactly that works? Watch a demo recording of how the Scoop platform works here!