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Three Steps to Effective Toolbox Talks

By Bob White
ROII Safety Director
 
In high-risk industries like construction, toolbox talks can have a significant impact on safety; and I send weekly emails to ROII participants with suggested topics each week. It’s a service ROII offers to help our participants be as successful and safe as possible.

But, let’s face it, often the people assigned to give safety and toolbox talks in the residential construction industry have little experience leading training like this. And, not everyone likes public speaking. 

Presenting employee safety meetings and toolbox talks don’t need to be a daunting task, but it is required by law that you take the time for these. Let’s make sure your workforce gets the benefits by following these effective steps:
 
#1 Know your subject: Keep it short, on point and relevant to the worksite
You can’t just read from a script while everyone signs in and expect to hold people’s attention or accomplish your purpose. When you do this, you signal to employees that work place safety is not a company priority. 
 
Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the subject and identify a few examples to make it relatable to your jobsite. On-site toolbox talks do not have to be long and drawn out. Being enthusiastic about the subject, providing examples and staying on point will help hold everyone’s attention. 
 
#2 Keep it simple
Present the subject in a clear and simple way. Avoid information overload, and don’t try to rush through lots of information. Simplify technical language, keep it short and make sure to consider work experience, education level and language barriers.
 
#3 Engage and involve
Look at your audience when you speak, make eye contact and speak loud enough for everyone to hear and feel engaged. Employees who feel “lost in the crowd” will hit cruise control and check out. Ask questions and request feedback. Make sure they know their feedback is valued and important. Show attendees you are interested in their thoughts and opinions. 
 
If employees know you will be asking questions to make sure everyone understands, they are more likely to stay focused and take away something useful from the conversation. After all, one good safety talk could be the difference between life and death.

As an ROII participant, you already receive our Weekly Safety Topic emails. If you want to be added to our email list, reach out to ROII Safety Services Director Bob White at (360) 352-7800 ext. 109 or bobw@biaw.com.



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While no employer wants to dictate to their employees what they should or shouldn’t be doing while off duty, you can always remind them at safety meetings and toolbox talks about the need to get proper rest so they can come back to work refreshed each day. 

Hear from experts sharing their knowledge on various topics, including Mental Health For You and Your Team, Asbestos Awareness Overview, Recent Changes in ANSI Standards, and more at the 14th Annual Construction Safety Day to be held in the virtual space on Wednesday, March 30, from 8 AM to 4:15 PM.