One Secret to Good Toolbox Talks: Positivity

Woman delivering a safety talk on a construction site

This is an excerpt from our free toolbox tips guide.

Too many toolbox talks feel like a chore. At best they can be boring, and at worst they can come across as scolding workers. Who wants to pay attention to that?

It can be hard to stay positive when you’re frustrated by poor safety performance. But avoiding negativity will make a huge difference in how your talks are received. There’s no simple trick or tidbit of advice for this one. Instead, it requires a change in how you perceive injuries and incidents.

Nobody tries to get hurt. Everybody wants to go home healthy and injury-free. But we all have a different level of personal awareness and safety skills. People have different learning abilities too—not everyone is able to internalize and retain a safety lesson in the same way.

Getting mad at workers won’t change their behavior in the future because they hadn’t set out to get hurt in the first place. You can’t scare or intimidate anyone into being safer.

A positive, encouraging approach to toolbox talks can foster stronger safety skills, better awareness, and more engagement with the company’s safety culture.

There’s no easy road to positivity. It starts one interaction at a time. It can be challenging to achieve and maintain a positive attitude in the face of workplace incidents, but the benefits are worth it.

One last note: if you don’t look forward to toolbox talks then nobody else will either. Stay as positive and upbeat as possible, and focus on preventing future injuries rather than scolding workers for past incidents. If you care, so will they.

Read 15 Tips to Improve Your Toolbox Talks to learn more about how to give more engaging and effective toolbox talks.