Toolbox safety meetings have become common on construction sites, with employees huddled around the gang box on Monday mornings. At these meetings, they are often given a handout on a topic that will be discussed and review the work that will be performed for the week. Unfortunately, many of these meetings fall short of their intended goal—especially when employees tune out and miss critical information.
Toolbox safety meetings play an important role in building a culture of safety in the company and on the job. Safety is an important skill that must be learned, much like the other skills of the trade.
Below are some tips to keep employees engaged in your toolbox talks.
- Recognize safe work practices that have been observed to start the toolbox talk and set a positive atmosphere.
- Keep meetings short—I recommend 15 to 20 minutes. This will help employees retain valuable safety information.
- Present information relevant to the current work being performed.
- Stay passionate as a presenter, knowing you are working to prevent injuries and death. Your audience will connect with that energy.
- Be creative in different active-learning methods to improve memory, comprehension, interest, engagement, and application of knowledge.
- Involve employees in the meeting and consider hands-on training, such as how to properly use PPE or perform a safety task. Visual demonstrations of tools or equipment can bring greater understanding.
- Engage the audience by asking about their related experience. Ask open-ended questions, such as "How would you solve this problem?" or "What questions do you have about this?" Avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no.
- Give examples of real job-site stories related to the work being performed. This can be a great reality check and bring the point home.
- Include a variety of case studies and statistics when possible to reaffirm the importance of these meetings.
- Stay on schedule and move through the presentation at a steady pace to get through the planned material.
- Conclude the meeting by summarizing key points, stating the goal, and giving positive encouragement.
Understanding New Employees
New employees are known to suffer more injuries than experienced workers, so your orientation program should include a healthy dose of positive safety reinforcement. A new employee who has insufficient training about safety will think it is not important. Safety orientation training is a valuable investment in worker protection.
Some of the reasons newer employees can be more susceptible to injury include:
- New workers often have fewer skills and less job knowledge.
- They may be new to the business, unaware of unique hazards, unfamiliar with company safety procedures or policies, and inclined to take more risks.
- They are less likely to express safety concerns or ask questions.
Safety orientation is a great way to get new employees on board, shape their attitudes toward safety, and familiarize them with your policies and procedures.
Some basic requirements for new employee orientation include:
- General workplace and work task hazards
- Safety rules and policies, including accident prevention techniques and hazard reporting
- Steps to take immediately following an accident or injury, including reporting requirements
- Safe lifting and material handling procedures
- Selection, use, and care of PPE
- Housekeeping requirements
- Safe use of tools and equipment
- Hazardous materials and the location of the safety data sheets (MSDS)
- Location of emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, and first-aid kits
- Emergency evacuation routes and procedures
At Acuity, we understand contractors and provide many free resources to help them in business:
- We staff highly trained loss control professionals who work directly with our insured contractors to help improve safety, prevent accidents, and protect their most valuable assets—their employees.
- Our M.A.S.H. program is a 24/7 nurse hotline for workers with non-emergency injuries. This service, which is free to everyone who has a workers’ compensation policy with Acuity, can help reduce workers’ compensation expenses.
- Acuity’s OSHA 10-hour training is offered at no cost to our insureds and is taught by authorized trainers at locations throughout our operating territory.
- Our exclusive online educational materials, including videos, loss prevention articles, toolbox talks, and much more, are available anywhere at any time and will help your business with safety and sustainable growth.
For additional safety orientation tips, visit www.osha.gov.