The term “Toolbox Talk” was originally used as a way to encourage building workers to have a regular documented safety meeting. The best time to do this was considered to be when they stood around the tool box in the morning before starting work, so the term Toolbox Talk was born. On job-sites, these safety meetings may happen around the back of pickup truck. Thus, the term, tailgate safety meetings.
Today the Toolbox Talk or Tailgate Meeting is widely accepted as a common way of ensuring consultation occurs between workers and is a practical way to raise workers’ awareness of specific problems on site. It also helps to remind workers that health and safety are an important part of the working day.
Toolbox Talks should be scheduled as needed, depending on the level of risks faced on the job, or the levels of experience of the workers. Management should assess how often and for how long Toolbox Talks should be held in your company.
The Toolbox Talk should generally, but not necessarily, be conducted by an employee of supervisory level or with basic OHS awareness. Any issues raised that cannot be resolved should be addressed by senior management.
Why do we have safety meetings? Safety meetings are an opportunity for management and your safety department to communicate to employees how they can do their jobs safer and better. Topics discussed in safety meetings may be topics that you are familiar with or topics that you have limited knowledge about. If the topic is something that you’re are familiar with, it may be easy to tune out and not listen to the safety information presented. Do yourself a big favor and listen to the information as if you have never heard before. You may just learn something new, about the newest protective equipment, or a smarter way to do your job. Information passed on in a safety meeting has a purpose…..To stop you or your co-worker from being injured. Safety meetings also allow employees an opportunity to relay safety/health concerns or improvement ideas to their supervisors.
Use common sense in selecting a topic. You wouldn’t want to present “Dressing For Winter Work” at the start of summer. “Heat Exhaustion/Sunstroke” is more appropriate to the season. Failure on your part to select an appropriate topic to present will result in uninterested workers, a waste of everyone’s time and a loss of creditability on the part of company management.
Observe job-safety techniques. Focus on what is important (and mandatory). Listen to and follow up on company Safety Committee and employee recommendations. Identify what poor work practices are causing injuries or accidents on the job. Plan for and schedule out for a month so you have time to research and possibly modify your company policy.
Accidents result from unsafe acts or unsafe conditions. For a variety of reasons, unsafe acts typically account for 90% of all accidents, according to some experts. Safety meetings serve as a preventative measure against unsafe acts by educating employees on how they can do their job safely.
In selected situations, you should have and maintain an individual training record on each employee. Included is Competent Person training for employee’s using ladders and stairways, to recognize and minimize fall hazards and actions to take in fall protection. These are compliance actions as well as “common sense” to protect the contractor.