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Safety training is a crucial component of any Safety and Health Management program and vital for keeping every employee safe. By building employee awareness and giving them tools to address the hazards and risks in their work environment, you give them a chance to protect themselves.
However, as industries evolve, so do the hazards confronting the workforce. Rapid change means that new threats present themselves each day, but stopping work to perform formal training for every new risk may be challenging.
That’s where toolbox talks come in. Toolbox talks are informal group safety discussions that generally take 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning of a work shift. They fill the gaps left by traditional longer-form training and help organizations address new hazards as they present themselves.
Toolbox talks help keep every employee safe by alerting crewmembers to the hazards they may encounter during their workday and provide them with best practices to protect themselves and their coworkers. They don’t replace traditional long formal training but supplement it and reinforce training that workers may have previously received and forgotten about.
It’s also a chance for workers to collaborate when discussing hazards and for individuals to bring up their concerns to the group and brainstorm possible solutions that can benefit the entire crew. Finally, because toolbox talks happen every day at the beginning of the shift, they also help turn safety into a habit and get employees thinking about safety first thing in the morning.
Toolbox talks are a powerful tool, but unfortunately, they are a wasted opportunity for many organizations. That’s because most people dislike public speaking and have never received formal training on delivering an engaging presentation. As a result, toolbox talks are low-quality, and companies cannot reap the benefits.
You need audience attention and participation for a toolbox talk to successfully pass on the intended safety information. Here are four simple yet commonly overlooked toolbox talk best practices that will help achieve those goals, keep every employee safe, and improve toolbox talk quality in the process:
Preparation: When it comes to public presentations, nothing gets people disinterested quicker than a presenter that isn’t prepared. That’s why it’s essential to prepare and practice toolbox talk topics beforehand.
Attention: Try to perform toolbox talks in distraction-free areas and use multimedia like handouts, pictures, and videos to maintain audience attention.
Length: Try to keep toolbox talks between 10 and 15 minutes long and get to the point immediately to give workers the information they need to start their day.
Examples: Avoid spouting statistics and, instead, try to illustrate topics using examples from your life or the company of injuries or accidents. Stories make meetings more engaging and relatable to audience members.
When you tell stories from your own life, you also get the added benefit of making other people want to share their own stories, which boosts safety participation. Participation is key to creating a safer workplace; after all, safety is collaborative, and it takes more than just a safety professional to ensure the success of an organization.
Toolbox talks are vital for getting employees involved in the safety process. Encouraging employees to identify hazards and solutions for risks in their work area and then fixing those issues builds ownership of safety for employees. In addition, it reinforces that they play a significant role in the workplace and in keeping every employee safe.
Ultimately what you will have once you’ve built up his participation is an entire workforce actively searching for hazards and solutions. The more eyes and ears you have in identifying risk, the safer your workplace will become. You can even take that participation to the next level by having those individuals perform formal safety audits to get even more benefits, like data from the process.
Toolbox talks are a powerful yet underappreciated tool with multiple benefits, the most significant being their ability to boost employee participation in safety. Companies that want to take full advantage of that newfound participation and gain additional benefits should consider implementing EHS management software.
ProcessMAP cloud-based audit management software simplifies the challenge of managing organization-wide audit programs while providing data mining, benchmarking, and trend analysis in a single platform. Click here to learn more about how ProcessMAP and its suite of EHS software can help you create a safer workplace.