Importance of toolbox talks – a common feature within effective site management techniques

A toolbox talk is a very short informal safety talk and all about sharing best practice. Normally delivered on-site (not in a training room) and on a specific subject matter. It is a focused and to the point presentation with a specific safety message. The overall objective is to raise awareness of a particular aspect of the work. Effective training should be delivered on a continual basis and is essential for the reduction of accident/incident rates and the occurrence of ill-health and environmental damage on projects. Attendance should be recorded to ensure the message is received and understood allowing for subject matter issues to be monitored thereafter.

To ensure effective toolbox talks, you will need to ensure that all workers participate and are engaged in the toolbox talk.  Knowing and understanding the material delivered is really important too, thus ensuring good delivery.

Key points to remember while delivering toolbox talks to the workforce:

1). Relate information directly towards field activities.

2). Ensure your message is clear and understood.

3). Provide questions and answers sessions at the end.

4). Encourage group interaction but keep them on track.

5). Take your time. Do not rush a toolbox talk.

6). Always identify who their immediate supervisors are and explain that all issues should go through their supervisors first and foremost before being taken to others.

Toolbox talks can be time consuming as just gathering the workforce round to listen someone before the start of day’s work can affect productivity. Hence the aim is to be informal and supervisors can get certain members of the workforce to gather around during their rounds. This also allows for tailored messages to different trade to be delivered.

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For staff based in the site office, briefings can also be issued through Mosaic. The system will be automatically updated as soon as the attachment is opened. In relation to field based operatives, Mosaic allows briefings / toolbox talks prior to coming on site on their mobile devices via email. Once the briefing is delivered, attendance is recorded by scanning their Smart Card on a mobile device

In a recent HSE report entitled ‘The effectiveness of HSE’s regulatory approach: The construction example – 2016 (RR1082)’ a detailed omnibus survey was conducted amongst 5000 plus site workers, who  were asked a number of questions about their accident and ill health experiences. In order to probe a bit more on certain questions a booster survey of 500 construction workers was then undertaken in 2010. From a list of mechanisms around management and worker involvement suggested to respondents of which one or more might be present on site, response levels across the period were of the order of:

  1. Regular safety briefings / toolbox talks – 95%  
  2. A near miss reporting system – 86%  
  3. An employee H&S suggestion scheme – 51%  
  4. Workforce safety representatives – 49%
  5. non trades union, 8% TU  
  6. Safety committee – 33%  
  7. Incentive / reward scheme – 12%
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Unique smart cards and PDA’s or mobile phones can now record the toolbox talk event

The results above reflect how prevalent and important toolbox talks are to the safe running of construction sites in the modern era, with the vast majority of workers now expecting them to be undertaken to maintain high health and safety standards.

Mosaic has developed a sophisticated mobile feature that can capture daily briefings, toolbox talks, safety alerts and other site critical information and store it on-line. Both on-site members of the workforce and office staff can easily be catered for. Once the briefing is delivered, attendance is recorded by scanning their Smart Card on a mobile device which can then be viewed by management as a report at a later date.

Click here to read more about our toolbox talks product

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