Research shows that when it comes to these brief safety meetings, more is better.
Short and specific to the tasks at hand, toolbox talks serve multiple purposes. They remind workers of important health and safety precautions. They reinforce the value the company puts on safety. They also keep workers from becoming complacent about safety.
As projects become more complex and timelines become tighter, toolbox talks become increasingly important. If you’re holding them weekly or even less often, consider holding them daily. Sound like too much? It isn’t.
According to the Associated Builders and Contractors’ 2019 Safety Performance Report, the less often toolbox talks are held and the fewer safety topics are covered, the higher the trailing indicators such as TRIR and DART. Companies that conduct daily toolbox talks reduce their TRIR by 85 percent compared to companies that hold them monthly. Compared to companies that hold them weekly, they reduce their TRIR by more than 70 percent and their DART by 75 percent.
There is no shortage of free toolbox talks available online, so running out of topics shouldn’t be an issue. Think about the work being done, the equipment being used and the PPE and safety precautions they require. If personal fall protection equipment is needed, for example, talk about choosing good anchor points. Think about the weather or soil conditions and any hazards they pose. Recent safety incidents are also good fodder for toolbox talks.
If you need more inspiration, look to OSHA’s 10 most frequently cited standards and use the talks to help ensure your company doesn’t violate them. You can also look at the top violations within a specific OSHA standard — for instance, the top scaffold violations — and use the talks to help your company avoid a citation, not to mention an injury.
Keep toolbox talks short and on point, and make them mandatory. To reduce safety incidents as much as possible, everyone must do their part.
Marianne Wait is an editor and writer who creates content for Fortune 500 brands.