Toolbox Talks: Make the Most of 5 Minutes

Toolbox talks are daily reviews run by safety supervisors before work begins. These meetings, sometimes also called safety briefings, or tailgate meetings are quick. Generally lasting no more than 5 to 10 minutes, they are perfect opportunities for the supervisor to keep workers updated on job-specific hazards, new safety materials or processes, and building an effective safety culture. 

While informative, toolbox talks are not designed to take the place of formal safety training. 5 minutes gives supervisors time to review and supplement larger safety plans that can’t be explained or discussed easily on an open job site. We’ve put together a cheat sheet to show you can make the most out of 5 minutes, and make every toolbox talk worth the time. 

What to Include in a 5 Minute Toolbox Talk

Current Hazards

To begin, focus on what will affect the work crew today. Safety officers should review the current hazards on the worksite. What machinery will be running, slip & fall hazards, off-limits areas for unnecessary workers, and weather conditions could be part of this quick list.

Relevant Topic

Secondly, every toolbox talk should focus on one main topic. The safety officer should have this topic planned ahead of time. Whether it be reviewing specific machine safety procedures, the chain of command and communication, or documenting a safety incident stick to that topic. Check out our 4 essential safety topics to cover in toolbox talks.

It’s best to have a prop to demonstrate procedures. If your topic is harness safety, practice strapping in with an actual harness. Seeing the procedure in action will help the crew remain engaged and retain the information. Chain of command and communication can be demonstrated on paper with a call tree or visual aid clearly stating what is said in person. 

Make it a Conversation

Next, no one enjoys or benefits from the person in charge just reading off a script. Toolbox talks are an opportunity to communicate as a team, every member is there to provide insight and help each other. Safety officers should make a point to allow everyone a chance to speak, ask questions, give suggestions, and be engaged. 

Offering the least opportunity to be involved guarantees you’ll get the least engagement in return from your crew. Make it a conversion, and your point will stick. 

How to Document Toolbox Talks

Finally, go paperless. Printing safety topics, and keeping track of safety meeting attendance on paper gets messy. Documents are lost, destroyed, or just don’t make it to the right person. The SR Training App makes documenting safety training quick and easy. The app works on any mobile device allowing you to deliver training records to leadership via email at any time.

Need ideas for your toolbox talk? The SR Training App includes preloaded toolbox talks for a variety of industry groups. Schedule a free demo and check out all the features of the SR Training App today!

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