A toolbox talk is an informal safety meeting that of an organisation’s overall safety program. Toolbox talks is an unofficial group discussion that mainly focuses on a particular safety issue.
Toolbox talks must be shorter than safety meetings and training sessions, they are designed to reinforce safety training and information on a particular topic.
Toolbox meetings should be conducted at the job site prior to the commencement of a job or work shift. Toolbox meetings should be run on a regular basis, the frequency of meetings will depend on the size, nature and location of the site.
Toolbox talks cover topics on safety aspects related to the specific jobs. Meetings are normally short in duration and include topics such as work-related work-space hazards and safe work practices.
Toolbox talks are a great refresher and keep the employees abreast of changes in regulations, safety procedures, equipment’s, personal protection equipment’s (PPE) and job assignments and responsibilities.
It is one of the very effective methods to restore workers knowledge, covers last minute safety checks and exchange information with the experienced workers. Refresher training is required by law on some topics, in which case planned safety talks are a convenient way to go over required training.
Toolbox talks or meetings are sometimes referred to tailgate meetings or safety briefings.
In short, Toolbox talks are used to
- Help employees understand their job responsibilities and how to achieve them.
- Ensure that employees are ready to do their jobs safely.
- Demonstrate what you expect from your employees.
- Genuinely influence employee performance.
Depending on the nature of the business it is advisable to conduct an inspection of the work area prior to a toolbox talks to help identify any problems and to assist with topical items for discussion.
Details of toolbox talks should be recorded and kept on file. It is important to record meeting dates, attendees and discussion items, even follow-up items from hazards, accidents and incidents.
To improve toolbox talks and making it interesting it should be
- Explained in a positive approach.
- Focus on 3 positives and 1 negative comments.
- Focus on what is best for the company or group rather than people overly focusing on themselves.
- Start with gratitude.
- Tell stories to reaffirm correct safety behavior.
- Announcing safety rewards.
It will increase the energy, engagement and exploration of the workers.
Effective toolbox talks can save lives and are an important topic in human factors. The fundamental factors for effective toolbox talks are brevity, authority, relevance, clarity and accountability.
Toolbox talks promote the awareness of safety issues in the forefront. Toolbox talks may have the following impacts:
- Promotes safety awareness. Workers get actively involved in safety matters and reduce safety risks.
- Introduces workers to new safety rules, equipment’s, preventive practices and motivates the worker to follow standard operating procedures.
- Provides vital information to the workers on accident causes, types and preventive actions.
- Emphasizes planning, preparation, supervision and documentation.
- Helps when reviewing new laws or industry standards, company policies and procedures.
- Encourage workers to discuss their experience that helps to review safety procedures in future.
Prominent features of toolbox talks are
- Should be scheduled at the beginning of the work shift.
- Meeting should be done at the job site.
- Duration should be approximately 10-15 minutes.
- Discussion and review of the previous meetings to be done as a reminder.
- Discussion on the current task to be done.
- Discussion on the safety issues including the environment, hazards, use of personal protective equipment’s, first aid, medical support and emergency procedures.
- Workers participation should be encouraged.
- Use props and visual aids.
- Check employees understanding.
- There may be review and recapitulation with quiz or test.
Certain examples of toolbox talks as well as other training resources in several time-saving formats:
- Confined spaces toolbox talks.
- Electrical safety talks.
- Hazard communication safety talks.
- Audio Safety talks.
- Training tracker forms.
- Refresher training outlines.
- Training checklists etc.
Toolbox safety talks provide a convenient and effective method of communicating and involving the employees as well as reinforcing the safety message throughout the workforce and can significantly enhance the development of a safe working culture.
The cost of implementing a regular toolbox talk system is minimal, 10-15 minutes a week. The benefits will include greater awareness, with the potential to reduce accident rates, downtime and equipment damage and possibly even save a life.