by Kirk Fechter, Garrison Safety Officer

Safety on the Fly

What makes a good meeting?


I have done some travelling and a lot of times while on the job here, it reminds me of my many travels. 

I think of a Tour Bus. I was on the big island of Hawaii on my way to Mauna Kea. I had driven up there before and gotten to the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station.  No one told me that it was not advisable to drive up to the summit (Of course, I had not checked!). I had a rental car and was told that if I got stuck, not only would it take possibly a few days to get the car towed, the rental car agencies would take no responsibility and I would be paying for extra rental despite lacking the use of the car for a few days.

So, I signed up for the Tour Bus. There are a lot of travel guides, but the Tour Bus through the years knows what is important and interesting.

I note that they have a schedule and agenda. If I had missed the bus, then I would miss the whole thing. As we travelled, I learned a lot and the guide noted interesting things. We stopped several times. I wish that I had known more about the places and I noted things that I wanted to follow up on, but then the train boarded and off we went again.

As we traveled there were more and more places we would go that I would like to continue. The top of Mauna Kea has an incredible sky and the tour guide had brought a powerful telescope that we used to gaze at planets. I wanted to stay there longer even though I could feel the altitude (almost 14,000 feet above sea level)! One lesson learned here applies to meetings: maybe there are too many meetings. Do we have enough time to prepare, do we have enough time to give our full attention, do we have enough time to follow-up?

Recent meetings have certainly changed. Now we are online. Attendance is up and meetings are longer.

Some things remain the same. We all gather together. We have invitees and we have those that find out about a meeting and attend.  The invitees may be on the agenda. Some are expected to brief.

Paying attention to briefings is important, as well as minimizing distractions wherever the work area may be.

The good thing about having our Fort Meade Safety and Occupational Health Advisory Committee (SOHAC) which meets once a quarter is that everyone has something to contribute. We all see hazards. We all hear about hazards. But we don’t always communicate them. Meetings like the SOHAC meeting provide a good chance to pool information.

The most important thing is the follow up. We need to identify hazards and then ensure they are eliminated or abated. It is not enough to request a work order. It is essential to check on progress. If you can’t fix a hole in the ground, mark the hazard with marking tape.

So after a trip to the safety meeting, don’t forget why we attend: to identify and eliminate hazards.

Making a meeting good!