Improve Company Safety with Great Toolbox Talks
How can you hold effective toolbox talks to ensure your team is safer on the job?
- By Michael Blanchard, Amanda Pederson
- Feb 24, 2021
A toolbox talk, or tailgate talks, are typically given to a small group of workers early in their shift. The talks will usually detail one specific safety topic or issue that you would like your team to focus on for the day. Toolbox Talks are usually quite a bit less structured and formal compared to a regular safety training course and are not meant to be in depth reviews, but rather, used to keep a topic front of mind.
The Associated Builders and Contractors annual safety performance report states that daily toolbox talks can have a significant impact on the number of accidents and recordable incidents at a company. They went on to discuss how the frequency and quality of Toolbox talks have been shown to be one of the best indicators of a company’s overall safety performance.
So how can you hold effective toolbox talks to ensure your team is safer on the job?
Keep the Talk Relevant
When conducting toolbox talks you do not want to waste your time or the time of your workers by discussing risks or safety issues that are not relevant to their work. For example, if you were speaking with a group of welders, you would likely get little engagement if you spent fifteen minutes discussing risk management related to using a telehandler.
Keep each toolbox talk to the point and relevant to your team for the best results. #2: Involve your senior workers.
Involve your Senior Workers
Improving safety at your worksites starts with engaging your senior employees and supervisors. Newer employees are looking to senior team members to set the example, and so their support of any new safety program is critical for any meaningful, sustainable improvements to occur. A great way to garner this support is by getting your senior workers actively participating in daily toolbox talks, whether by encouraging them to share personal safety stories, having them present information themselves, or by simply letting them choose the discussion topics. Regardless of how you do it, involving your senior team members in worksite safety is a terrific way to take advantage of their experience and authority, promoting and sustaining a positive ripple of change throughout your organization.
Numbers and stats are typically not memorable. You can tell your team that they are 20% more likely to have an accident if they do not pay attention to this or that, but you are likely to have insignificant impact on your workers. If instead, you used an example of a real person impacted by an accident, or someone who escaped a catastrophic accident because they followed the safety policies, you are likely to have a much greater impact. Integrating real world examples into toolbox talks is a fantastic way to make them more meaningful.
Eliminate the Paperwork
There are countless companies now offering digital forms and other paperless ways to eliminate paperwork while still maintaining a detailed record of meeting notes, signatures, checklists, attendance, and much more. One simple way to improve toolbox talks is to take paper out of the equation allowing you to share documents between offices, find records of previous talks and so much more without the headaches associated with paper documents.
Frequency is Key
One of the most crucial factors for safety is making it a habit. Scheduling time each and every day to have toolbox talks with your workers can make it a habit that sticks around and truly has a lasting impact. It is also important that you are not leaving it up to your memory to hold toolbox talks. Hold yourself accountable and schedule them in every day. Whether your company requires them or not, if you work in a high-risk industry toolbox talks can have a major impact and keep your team safer.