Updated: Feb 16
You’ve got some important health and safety information to get across to your workforce, but you need to do it quickly and effectively. How do you go about it?
Have you considered a toolbox talk? rradar H&S consultant Ed Hodson gives you the facts you need to know.
What is it?
This is a short presentation to the workforce on a particular aspect of health and safety. It may be presented in a short talk or from video clips.
There’s no specific legal requirement to carry out toolbox talks but they will certainly help the employer to comply with health and safety law as they can be an effective means of providing relevant and focussed health and safety, information, instruction and training.
When do I use them?
Toolbox talks are usually carried out on site before a shift or work activity starts and they will generally be short in duration. The purpose of the toolbox talk is to pass safety-critical information to the workforce who will be carrying out the work, or used as a timely reminder of the hazards involved in a routine task, together with the control measures required.
It’s important to be positive when delivering the toolbox talk and to use it to reinforce the benefits of working safely. It also enhances the safety culture of the organisation.
What to do
Explain to the workforce why you’re holding this toolbox talk and what you’re going to cover. A toolbox talk should be a two-way communication between supervisors and employees who can learn of any potential issues that may or may not have been considered.
It’s important to be a good listener and take on board suggestions offered as employees who do the job may be aware of some hazards you may not have fully considered. Take time to listen, consider suggestions and discover how working as a team can produce team solutions. If employees provide realistic suggestions, remember to give feedback on the progress and credit them when applicable.
Where do I hold them?
It’s important to deliver the toolbox talk in a suitable area without distractions such as noise, plant, machinery or in area subject to interruptions. Keep your delivery precise and check everyone understands the points you are putting across. Be patient and take time to explain if concerns are raised and take notes.
What to consider
Do you have the latest legislation and industry guidance on the topic?
Know your audience; they may have different levels of competency and skills, or need an interpreter if English isn’t their first language. If someone is seen to be struggling, take time to explain.
Prepare the information or materials that you require, including any handouts.
Ensure that all workers that need to attend will be available. Late arrivals or those on different shifts must be covered. Check your attendance register is completed.
Ensure you have a suitable room or area for the toolbox talk.
Ensure all resources are checked including technology if it is required and that power is available.
Always remain positive and focussed.
Remember to listen.
Use open questions to ensure understanding.
Ask for feedback - and act on it.
Empower the workforce:
There’s no point in the workforce being aware of health and safety risks if they don’t feel that they can speak out about them. It’s vital that a culture is created where anyone who considers the work is unsafe or may present a risk to themselves or others feels empowered to STOP work, report and seek advice without repercussions to themselves.
rradarstation is a resource available through the AXA MLP where policyholders can access rradar’s legal advisory team over the phone or by email and web portal that provides over 1,000 articles, step-by-step guidance sheets, forms, sample letters and templates to download relating to running a commercial business.
Examples can also be found at: