These are the toolbox talk books I have made to assist small businesses present safety topics to their employees.
Each of these books not only includes the topics to talk about, but also sign-off sheets to track training compliance.
Click each image to be taken to the Amazon listing, where you can learn more about each book.
* None of these links are affiliate links.
What is a toolbox talk?
Toolbox talks, often called safety chats or tailgate meetings, are short, interactive meetings about a narrow subject related to safety at the workplace. Their purpose is to reiterate important safety practices and to ensure that staying safe stays on top of each employee’s mind.
These safety talks supplement the mandatory workplace safety training that every employee has to undergo. They are often short, quick refreshers of safety precautions the team already knows but might not be putting into action. They can address everything from how to properly use a tool, to fire safety protocols, even to mental health.
Toolbox talks are useful in almost every kind of work environment but they’re more common in high-risk industries like construction, material handling, manufacturing, and mechanics. The main target audiences are maintenance workers, machine operators, and other front-line staff.
How long should they last?
A toolbox talk should last between 10 to 15 minutes. This gives workers enough time to learn the information and ask questions without eating away at too much of the workday. However, this time frame is just a guideline and can be made longer if you are covering a more serious topic or there are questions or concerns.
How to properly conduct a toolbox talk
Here are five fundamentals every toolbox talk should have.
Safety in working environments such as oil rigs and hospitals is of paramount importance. However, that shouldn’t equate to toolbox talks taking hours to deliver. It’s advisable to hold smaller talks more regularly rather than overload people with information over a period of hours in just one session.
An effective toolbox talk should be around 10-15 minutes long and an interactive meeting between the supervisor and staff. While the detail of the talk is important, it’s also vital that everyone has their chance to air their views and feel like they’re being listened to.
While toolbox talks are meant to be informal, it’s critically important they’re conducted by someone in a position of authority. Occasional toolbox talks just held between staff doing the job could bypass a number of safety concerns as well as not being properly recorded or reported.
When toolbox talks are held regularly by a supervisor, it gives staff the chance to air their concerns and ideas and ensures these are reported further up the chain to management if necessary.
Toolbox talks aren’t the place for general safety presentations. Toolbox talks should be held in the working environment rather than a formal training area and focus on specific tasks or procedures relevant to staff.
The language used should be what the staff understand and not ‘management speak’ that leaves any room for confusion or misunderstandings. For example, talking about safety-inspired changes to a particular procedure may fall on deaf ears if the team members actually already perform it in a different way from the official guidelines.
At the start of a toolbox talk, it should be made clear what the topic is going to be. If these briefings are allowed to grow arms and legs, the result could be a confusing and lengthy meeting. When people aren’t engaged in toolbox talks, the safety of everyone in that environment can be put at risk.
Typically each toolbox talk will cover just one safety topic for discussion to keep things clear and simple for everyone. The way the information is delivered by the supervisor is another important consideration and any one to one discussions that need to take place should be done so away from the group.
Every toolbox talk should be recorded by the supervisor or manager who’s given the talk. It’s important to have a clear and up-to-date record of what discussions have taken place in terms of operational safety. If no records are kept, different accounts of what was discussed could emerge in the event of an incident.
It’s also important to keep track of which staff were present at each toolbox talk, particularly in a shift working environment such as an oil rig. It only takes one member of a crew to miss out on an important safety briefing for potential safety issues to arise.
A successful toolbox talk meeting should have workers feeling like they've learned something valuable that they never thought of before. It’s important that toolbox talks be engaging. If you want your toolbox talks to have any effect, they should be interactive, interesting, and give useful information.