Make Your Toolbox Talks Count

When was the last time you paid full attention to an in-flight presentation? Sure, you probably have the main points memorized.

The real answer: possibly never, and certainly not every time you fly. This might be how your construction crew is feeling during your safety meetings. And as fines keep climbing, that just isn’t gonna fly.


1. Make it memorable

How do you keep your crew’s attention and make sure they’re engaged during safety meetings when you’re covering the same ground over and over?

In the field, safety will hopefully be built into your morning huddles and continue throughout daily toolbox talks. To keep the message from going stale, a safety committee can help develop agendas and leading daily discussions.  

Topics can range from general safety updates and training tips to weather reports and, mostly importantly, observations gathered from crew members.

This is the real key.

Weaving crew feedback into discussions helps raise awareness around a larger, more comprehensive set of potential issues. Trends can emerge. It also gets workers thinking and talking about worksite safety instead of just being talked at. That info’s as valuable to them as it is to you.

2. Don’t wait for it

In reality, if you’re waiting for your toolbox to get updates from your crew, you’re waiting too long, and it could cost you. The guys in the field should have a way to post updates from the field in one place.

If you wait for meetings to raise issues and ask for feedback, things will get forgotten in a busy day and things will go undocumented.

3. Look beyond OSHA

Beyond the jobsite, staying up-to-date on construction safety regulations and news is essential. A quick search on the OSHA website delivers a wealth of construction safety information. But while you’ll get a lot of what you need from OSHA, that’s not where you’ll get all your ideas.

Oh, and you won’t get them from a template either.

As a construction employer, a manager, it’s not enough to just avoid the worst. You want to know how to do things as efficiently as possible. And you want a good, clean record. You want to stay up on news, associations, blogs and trend reports. This is where you’ll most likely pick up safety tips to share with your team and keep them engaged during daily toolbox meetings.

4. Don’t ignore language differences

As construction workforces evolve, different languages being spoken on the jobsite is a reality that’s becoming more common, and that presents a challenge. No matter the languages spoken, it’s essential for every crew member to be aware of hazards and understand the expectations related to worksite safety. When other languages, like Spanish, are spoken on worksites, tools, such as photos, Spanish-language signs and documents and/or an interpreter, can help with communicating critical information and ensure the entire crew understands and is prepared to contribute to remaining safe.

Moving forward, failure to comply with construction safety standards will cost more than ever. If you want a safe site and a perfect record, don’t just focus on “covering the bases” — focus on how to get your team’s attention in the first place.

Photo © woosh79/Twenty20


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