Is your toolbox talking?

Toolbox Talk

Most people have heard the term Toolbox Talk. Many of you probably use them in one form or another in your organisation. They have become a safety staple across many industries. But how effective are they really?

A toolbox talk is an informal safety lesson, or reminder, delivered by the supervisor to their workgroup at the beginning of a shift – while everyone is gathered around their ‘toolboxes’ getting ready for work. Or as Anthony Izzo says in his blog 9 Things Your Supervisors Should Know about Tool Box Talks: “We called them tool box talks because there was always a tool box nearby and someone was always leaning on it”.

The aim of a toolbox talk is to help people recognise and address safety hazards. It is a simple communication tool that, if done correctly, can have a major impact on safety and moral.

An effective toolbox talk:

  • is interesting and relevant to the workgroup, so either based on a current issue or a recent incident
  • is short, 5 – 10 minutes max
  • is simple to deliver and easy to understand
  • engages the workgroup, by including questions or a ‘Safety Share’ (see previous blog)
  • builds rapport between the supervisor and the workgroup and helps to foster a sense of teamwork.

The basic toolbox talk structure is simple.

  1. Introduction – What are we talking about and why now?
  2. How does it affect us – what are the hazards/risks that we face?
  3. What are we doing about it – what controls are currently in place?
  4. How can we do it better/make it safer?

A toolbox talk can be:

  • created from safety articles in industry newsletters
  • taken straight from the Internet
  • developed externally or in house based on a recent incident, or part of a larger safety strategy
  • made up on the spot by the supervisor (this one is perhaps not the best idea).

Each of these methods can be successful depending on a number of factors, such as the:

  • knowledge and skill of the person developing the content
  • influence of, and respect for, the person delivering the talk
  • interest and engagement of the workgroup.

Some organisations have a library of toolbox talk topics prepared. These can be selected, information printed or downloaded, and delivered as required. Interactive online toolbox talks are popular. Played on a computer or TV screen these also serve as a simple training tool for ‘wet weather’ or ‘light duty’ days.

Have a look at Pertrain’s free Interactive Toolbox Talk to see if this is a tool that would be helpful at your work site, or check out our Toolbox Talk Library by clicking here.

Pertrain will be closed from 4pm on December 22nd and will reopen January 8th, 2018. Here is to a great 2018! Dismiss