A Toolbox Talk is an informal group discussion that focuses on a particular safety issue. It can be used daily to promote your department’s safety culture. The aim is to facilitate health and safety discussions on the job site.
It is also an easy way for foremen and supervisors to supplement the training efforts of their company or organization, and to keep workers’ minds on working safe. These short pre-written safety meetings are designed to heighten employee awareness of workplace hazards and regulations. They are not intended to take the place of formal safety training for workers, but to supplement it.
Toolbox meetings are usually run in small work groups by the supervisor, leading hand, team leader etc. of the group. The meetings are short, betweent 5 to 15 minutes, and informal.
The basic idea is to provide a direct method of communication and exchange of information between management, supervision and the shop floor with the purpose of improving safety and health by directly involving workers in issues that are important to them. Using tool box meetings is an ideal way to get employees involved in matters relating to their own safety, finding solutions to problems, as well as building a committed and productive team.
The name originated from the team gathering around a toolbox at a construction site for the talk, but these meetings can be held at any workplace.
For a good toolbox talk,
1 Go through your note before you hold the actual meeting with workers. This ensures mastering the contents well enough and enhances ability to communicate better and also answer questions.
2 Try to hold the toolbox talk in an area that is free of noise and other distractions. If the workers cannot hear you talking, or are distracted by other activities in the area, they won’t be focusing on your talk.
3 Speak clearly and directly. Maintain a steady reading pace for the workers to understand you. Just take a deep breath, and then speak clearly and at a natural pace. Reiterate in the local language if need be.
4 Use a prop when possible to help you keep the workers attention. If you are giving a toolbox talk on setting up a scaffold, have one set up nearby so you can point out things as you discuss the toolbox talk. To really drive home a point, have an unlabeled container you found on the jobsite available when giving a toolbox talk on OSHA’s hazard communication standards about labeling requirements.
5 Make allowance for Question and Answer time at the end of the toolbox talk. Don’t run down employees who ask questions, as this will discourage others from asking questions later.
6 Always document your toolbox talks. Even if certain OSHA standards do not require documentation of safety training, it can’t hurt to have the information about the topic, the trainer, the date, and names of the workers on file.
7 On a final note, always comply. Nothing makes a trainer lose credibility faster than to have a worker see them doing something that violates the safety precautions that were covered in a previous toolbox talk. Always set a good example.
Following these simple steps will ensure a seamless delivery.