Toolbox Talks

What is a Toolbox Talk?

A Toolbox Talk or Pre-Start is an informal health and safety meeting that focuses on topics related to the workplace, job, or project. These informal meetings are usually conducted at the start of a shift or after an incident has occurred. Examples of topics that can be discussed are hazards, safe work practices, any new plant or equipment, changes to the worksite, and how the organisation is controlling its risks. Topics can be used to pass on important safety information but also work as a prompt for employees to discuss safety and identify potential hazards.

The key to an effective Toolbox Talk is to keep it short and straight to the point. It is usually a two-way discussion and is a good chance to engage the team.

What is required for a Toolbox Talk?

Have a Toolbox Talk template ready to go. These templates usually have:

  • Name of person conducting the Toolbox Talk
  • Date
  • Work area/Name of worksite
  • Topic
  • Summary of items discussed
  • Attendance field / a table where individuals who have attended the meeting, can write their name, company represented, and signature.

Make sure you have a team or group that you will be conducting the Toolbox Talk with. An example of what to ask yourself is, who will be affected by the:

  • Hazard/risk
  • New plant
  • Change of condition to the site
  • New procedure

These questions (but not limited to) can help you determine who to include in the Toolbox Talk.

Who should run the Toolbox Talk meeting

Anyone can run the Toolbox Talk although it’s common that Supervisors, Team Leaders, OHS Officers, or HSRs run it. The key aspect is that the person running it has a clear idea of what the discussion topic is and is able to communicate it effectively and initiate a discussion between the team.

Some tips on a successful Toolbox Talk

Have some key points ready to discuss for the Toolbox Talk and record it into the Toolbox Talk template beforehand. Usually, before you start your Toolbox Talk, you already have an idea of what you want to discuss.

Keep Toolbox Talks short, simple and straight to the point. These meetings are informal and are designed to be 5-10 minutes long.

Toolbox Talks or pre-starts are commonly conducted at the start of the shift where the team discusses what hazards/risks may be expected during the shift (common topics listed in the next section). They are also conducted post-incident, to discuss any Lessons Learned.

Engage the team in the discussion by asking them for their thoughts on the situation or asking them for their feedback. Some team members may provide feedback based on past experience, which can prove to be valuable information.

 

By Hazel Smirlis – Compliance Lab

www.compliancelab.com.au