Advice to Improve Toolbox Talks

Site foreman delivering a toolbox talk on a construction site

It can be challenging to deliver toolbox talks effectively and consistently. A recent article by Andrew Faulkner in Coatings Pro magazine shares advice to help supervisors and safety professionals overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of delivering a good toolbox talk. It provides fifteen tips, which are divided between the print and online version of the magazine, to improve safety meetings. The advice covers topics ranging from how to better connect with workers to improved ways of maximizing employee engagement.

The article is based on SafeStart’s guide to toolbox talks, and it’s a great reminder of the importance of effective safety meetings. There are numerous ways to improve toolbox talks, including presentation and preparation, and the article suggests taking steps to clarify the goals of the talk, considering what topics to discuss when the usual ones become stale, and changing the approach to better engage employees.

Several presentation techniques can also help supervisors make the most of toolbox talks, such as telling stories for maximum impact, crafting a message that truly resonates with workers, and knowing how to sift through and evaluate all the free toolbox talks available on the Internet.

One of the first points on the list is the importance of knowing your audience. As the article in Coatings Pro notes:

Take your corporate agenda items and reposition them in a way that will have meaning and benefits to your audience. Don’t tell workers they need to comply with rules to avoid OSHA fines—they won’t really care about that... Knowing what they care about will help you engage them directly with safety.

Whatever your approach to safety meetings, it’s important to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. The best way to upgrade toolbox talks is to focus on improving one aspect at a time. Take a look at all the tips on the list and select one that feels manageable, work on it for a while, and only pick the next one once you’ve mastered the first.