Why do we give toolbox talks
What Is A Toolbox Talk?
More than likely you have probably heard the term ‘toolbox talk’ used on and around construction sites by Foreman, Managers and Health & Safety Consultants. It is also used in other industries as well, and is also known as a safety moment, health and safety brief, safety talk or a safety minute.
But what exactly is a toolbox talk? For starters, a toolbox talk is not as its name suggests a talk about toolboxes. In a nutshell, a toolbox talk is a short health and safety talk usually about a specific health and safety subject.
Most toolbox talks take place on the site.
Unlike classroom-based training, toolbox talks happen where the work happens. This might not be the best place to expect your team to learn a new or difficult topic but that is not what a toolbox talk is designed to be.
A toolbox talk is not a full training course or an in-depth look at a subject. It is a quick overview of the important facts and considerations. The talk should usually be 5 – 10 minutes in length and only focus on one subject for each talk.
Some examples of toolbox talk subjects are: Accident Prevention, Asbestos, Electrical Safety, First Aid, PPE & Working at Height but there are many different subjects that these short talks cover off and as part of CDM 2015 Regs they need to be held to improve health and safety in the industry
A toolbox talk should be quick and to the point.
It needs to cover the information that is mostly already known, perhaps to refresh knowledge previously learned or to expand on it. In fact, out on site can be the perfect place to bring health and safety information to the fore front as the hazards are real, the risks are real, and the topic is relevant to the work being carrying out.
A toolbox talk is a way of raising health and safety standards. It reminds the team of the safety information they need when they need it. But, in order to achieve this, you need to ensure your talk is relatable to the work that’s being carried out and of course is interesting.
Your talk should be relevant, short, up to date and focused on one topic only. A toolbox talk is not a full safety course. It should not take up a half a day and try to cover every health and safety topic at once.
That is why you need to focus on one topic for your talk as that way when you finish, your team have that message at the front of their minds, and it won’t be forgotten. A good point to remember is if someone was to tell you just 1 fact you would quite easily remember it for the rest of the day, but if they bombarded you with 20 facts at best you may remember 4 or 5 – you wouldn’t remember them all and that one very important fact might be one of the ones you forget. For the same reasons, you should not try to cram multiple toolbox talks into one day. This is an easy mistake to make if you are on a roll and want to make sure you cover off everything but don’t. People can only retain so much at once especially when they have a busy day on site ahead of them.
The whole purpose of a toolbox talk is to be a quick refresher on a single subject, to bring attention to a relevant health and safety topic, to keep knowledge refreshed. Give your talk in the morning, and then let the information sink in through the day.
Toolbox talks need and must be carried out regularly, so keeping your talk short is important so that it is not intrusive to the working day. The more relevant the talk is to the work that’s happening on site, the more it will be remembered and if you stick to this rule the team will associate it with the work they are doing.
Having a routine of a particular time of day, usually when starting work or near the morning break works best or near the beginning of the shift so that the primary focus of the team is on the work ahead, rather than heading home if the talk was held at the end of the day.
A toolbox talk is designed to improve health and safety, by focusing on a subject that affects the team, either an activity or task that is being carried out, a hazard they are exposed to, a control or equipment that is in place.
Why do we give toolbox talks?
Toolbox talks are a fundamental part of any health and safety management system. Here at Work Safety Solutions we cannot emphasise enough how much why they need to be held – they keep information refreshed and up to date and deliver relevant health and safety information.
The content of your toolbox talks may have previously been covered in other training courses. You may have had training on a particular subject in the past, but is that knowledge up to date, and how much do you really remember? Some forms of health and safety training only need to be refreshed every 3 years. Some of us struggle to remember what they read 2 weeks ago let alone what they read 2 years ago! A toolbox talk is designed to remind, refresh and retain this knowledge.
What does a toolbox talk hope to achieve?
By holding regular toolbox talks the aim is to create a positive health and safety culture. Starting each day with a short health and safety briefing on a relevant subject is a great way to keep health and safety at the front of the minds for all those out on site. This is likely to achieve better compliance with rules and best practice and in turn a reduced rate of accidents & ill health which then means reduced costs, increased productivity and a safe working environment.