WHAT IS A TOOLBOX TALK AND WHY ARE THEY USED?
A toolbox talk is an informal group discussion that focuses on a specific safety issue or topic. Opposed to a large safety meeting, a toolbox talk is generally much shorter and lasts between 10-15 minutes.
Safety meetings and toolbox talks are important tools for building a strong safety culture and reinforcing the company’s commitment to protecting the health and safety of all employees. Holding regular toolbox talks can prevent employees from becoming complacent and avoid safety being taken for granted.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD TOOLBOX TALKS OCCUR?
There is no right or wrong answer to this – every company is different! It depends on the work being done, hazards involved, crew size and industry. Some companies have toolbox talks daily before work begins, others have them on a weekly or even monthly basis. As a best practice, there can never be too many talks, safety information or compliance training.
WHO LEADS THE TOOLBOX TALKS?
Toolbox talks are generally led by the crew foreman or supervisor. They can also be led by the companies’ Health and Safety Professional or other members of management. By having a member of supervision or management lead the talk it promotes safety buy-in and demonstrates that a successful safety culture comes from the top.
WHAT SHOULD BE DISCUSSED?
Discuss relevant information to the work being completed during that shift. It is best not to hold a toolbox talk on Working from Heights if Trenching and Excavations is the scope of work for that day. Employees will quickly lose interest if the information being relayed does not apply to the work ahead of them.
Be sure to also discussed recent incidents or injuries that have occurred, and the corrective actions put into place.
HOW TO ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE
During the toolbox talk, do not focus only on the negative – be sure to incorporate positive information as well. Highlight safe working practices observed, recognize employees who have gone above and beyond to achieve safety excellence, and discussed milestones or goals achieved. This will leave the toolbox talk on a positive note and push employees to continue to put safety first.
To add an extra layer to toolbox talks – stretches can be incorporated at the beginning of every toolbox talk. This is a great way to engage the employees and kick-start the day for those early mornings. This can also prevent muscle strain injuries and reduce fatigue.
Group discussions should always be encouraged during toolbox talks. At the end of the toolbox talk it is a great time to allow employees or crew members to discuss any Health & Safety issues or concerns they may have.
All employees should feel comfortable to speak up without fear of reprimand. Any issues or concerns should be followed up on during the next toolbox talk.