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3 Toolbox Topics to Overcome the February Funk

Group safety training

February may be the shortest month on the calendar but it often feels like the longest. The holidays are over, spring seems far away, and it’s dark, cold and damp outside. From a business perspective, if you’re not careful, those February frowns could increase the risk of injury in the workplace. February would be a great time to brush up on past training and give a refresher. Additionally, here are some February toolbox talk topic ideas to help get you and your employees through the month safely. As always, we look to the national calendar to influence which topics should be discussed each month. Considering the heaviness of the topics for February, start your toolbox talk with a positive safety moment.  

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, which is a great excuse to discuss the importance of heart health in the workplace. There is also a specific day in February that focuses on hearts—Valentine’s Day. To incorporate some positivity into your toolbox talk, why not accompany your topic with a sweet treat like heart-shaped strawberries as a segue to the importance of eating right for heart health.  Having your employees in the best possible health is not only good for the employee but it’s also important for your company’s bottom line. Use a toolbox talk to highlight all of the things you can do to keep your employees in good health. First, start with an overview of the symptoms of heart disease to watch for like chest pain, jaw, neck or arm pain, breathlessness, weakness, fatigue and loss of consciousness. Unfortunately, heart conditions don’t always show symptoms—reiterating the importance of regular screenings of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and body weight is the best prevention of cardiovascular disease. Think about all of the contributing factors to heart health like high-pressure situations that cause stress, manual labor that causes physical stress to the heart, and respiratory hazards and demonstrate how those situations can be avoided while working. Then discuss all of the prevention measures your employees can take like a healthy diet, exercise program and workplace safety guidelines like wearing the right PPE around chemicals.

Burn Awareness Week

Another serious topic includes Burn Awareness Week—recognized in the first full week of February (February 3–13, 2021). According to the National Fire Protection Association, every 60 seconds a burn requiring medical attention is sustained. The theme for the 2021 Burn Awareness Week campaign is Electrical Safety from Amps to Zap (A to Z)! A lot of the information provided by the American Burn Association (National Burn Awareness Week sponsor) applies to the workplace. Common sense tips that are often overlooked due to complacency are among those on the A to Z list. Your toolbox talk could include these tips as a reminder for employees since sometimes a reminder is enough to prevent injury. These are things you’d find on a pre-use checklist like checking the cord on a piece of equipment to ensure it isn’t frayed, and making sure there’s no cracking, faults or wear in a power cord. The plug also needs to be inspected to ensure that the prongs haven’t been removed and aren’t faulty or loose. A quick inspection could be worth the aggravation to avoid a severe burn. Burn, fire and life safety education are all relevant during Burn Awareness Week and could make for a good toolbox talk in February. 

World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day is February 4, 2021. Considering a staggering 10 million people die each year from cancer, it’s safe to say that nearly everyone has been impacted by cancer in some way. By 2030, experts believe that cancer deaths will rise to 13 million annually if better preventive measures are not put in place. More than one-third of cancer cases can be prevented. This February, make your toolbox talks about cancer prevention. If you didn’t make use of the January toolbox suggestion about the importance of using sunscreen in the winter, try it for your February toolbox talk. Alternately, you could highlight your corporate wellness program’s smoking cessation program. Depending on the work your employees do, your toolbox talk could be tailored to discuss the cancer-causing substances that are prevalent in your industry and what can be done for prevention. Specific examples include silica dust, asbestos fibers, diesel engine exhaust, wood dust, metalworking fluids, welding, painting and coal tars. 

These three major topics can provide multiple toolbox topics for the month of February and the simple reminder from a talk can keep the February funk from affecting your employees

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