There is no need to state the importance of training for those working in the construction industry. They can help to prevent many risks and save multiple lives yearly. However, is annual training enough to keep your employees secure? Probably not. This is why the best safety practices at work involve regular OSHA toolbox talks.
What are toolbox talks and why do you need them?
A toolbox talk is a short speech, discussion or a presentation carried out by a senior team member about different health and safety topics. The purpose of such talks is to remind the rules, refresh the knowledge and detect any misunderstandings before the employees start their work day.
According to official statistics, the toolbox talks help to prevent two out of three accidents if performed daily and one out of five accidents if carried out on a weekly basis. The secret to their effectiveness is that the employees are actively engaged with the information in small portions but on a regular basis, which helps to increase knowledge retention.
However, it is worth remembering that the toolbox talks are not a substitution for an OSHA 30 hour course. They are only an addition to the mandatory annual training and a supplement in between the official courses to refresh the employees’ knowledge.
How to carry out a toolbox talk?
Toolbox talks are only effective if the workers are involved and active. Therefore, the number one goal is to make your speech interesting and engaging. How to do that?
Here are three main tips:
Share experiences/stories, not a statistics
It is important that you come to the discussion prepared. However, the preparation does not mean pulling out 5 pages of reports or revising the SST course. What you need to do is to think of a real-life story that describes a particular situation and particular people. If you do not have such a story – create one. The key here is that the workers engage their imagination and associate themselves with it. It has been proven that we learn better by having simple, down-to-earth examples rather than boring theoretical training.
Keep it brief
We know that telling stories can sometimes turn into a group session of sharing experiences. To avoid this, choose one safety topic and stick to it. Define what the topic is, what goals you want to achieve by bringing it up, and how much time you need to cover it. Important note: toolbox talks are not a 1-hour lectures. Keep it sweet and short.
Know your audience
To keep the attention of your audience, make sure you have good eye contact with them and don’t look into your scripts all the time. Stay confident in their eyes and show them that you have enough knowledge and experience to lead these talks.
Stay positive and focus on what can be done to keep the safe space, rather than what has been done wrong. Since most of the toolbox talks take place in the morning before work, make sure you lighten the moods up and inspire the employees for the whole day or week.