April is a time that most people associate with spring—and spring cleaning. Spring cleaning isn’t just limited to your home—whether you work in an office or on a construction site, cleaning and organization are vital to maintaining production. In addition to higher productivity, a clean workplace can also reduce injuries, lower absenteeism and promote better health and safety practices.
To start April off on the right foot, why not discuss 5 Ways to Optimize Housekeeping Procedures as a toolbox talk? April also has a number of national days that you can focus your attention on for toolbox talks, as detailed below.
Distracted Driving Awareness Month
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people were killed by distracted driving in 2019. Since distraction is the underlying cause of most incidents, drivers need to learn how to manage the states of mind that contribute to distraction. SafeStart recently created a guide for new drivers to explain the dangers of distraction—as well as carry out a 24/7 safety mandate. Understanding Distractions: Tips for New Drivers provides advice on how to avoid distractions behind the wheel by addressing issues like peer pressure, route planning, saving food and drinks for later, and learning to maintain focus.
Driving is one of the riskiest things most of us do every day and it’s important to ensure everyone stays safe behind the wheel. SafeStart’s driving awareness toolkit also has bike safety toolbox talks that are ready to be delivered, and well-researched blog posts on distraction that are ready to be adapted to fit your next April safety meeting or toolbox talk.
Workplace Violence Awareness Month
April marks the month we observe Workplace Violence Awareness. Even if you don’t personally know anyone who has suffered an act of workplace violence, you have likely seen something in the news that has resonated with you. Workplace violence is more common than you think. According to the National Safety Council, workplace physical assaults resulted in 20,870 injuries and 454 fatalities in 2019. The recent pandemic has caused workplace violence to increase. Workplace violence is defined as any act (or threat) of physical violence. It also includes intimidation and verbal abuse that could lead to physical assault and subsequent non-fatal or fatal injuries. OSHA requires all workplaces to provide an environment that is free from recognized hazards like these.
The best way to get ahead of workplace violence is to talk about it. Educate workers on the company’s reporting structure for these incidents. Take proactive measures like conducting a risk assessment of the workplace and inform workers of what was identified. Then, do a toolbox talk on workplace violence (both in general and how it applies within your company). This will start a discussion and open the door for managers to do employee check-ins while educating employees on what they can do if they encounter workplace violence.
Worker’s Memorial Day
April 28th is Worker’s Memorial Day (the National Day of Mourning)—chosen partly because it’s the anniversary of the day the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was founded—when lives lost to workplace violence and other fatalities, injuries or illnesses suffered due to occupational hazards are observed. If you want to combine your workplace violence toolbox talk with the national day of mourning, it could offer an eye-opening way to shine a light on this very real problem.
Your April toolbox talk could include a real story (sadly, there are lots of stories online and in the news) of how someone lost their life in the workplace to provide perspective for workers who think it “won’t happen here”. At SafeStart, in addition to grieving the lives lost, we also celebrate the lives saved through our safety training. Since we will never know an exact number, we use industry benchmarks to determine how many fatalities were prevented because workers received safety training. It’s important to ensure those lives lost aren’t forgotten but equally as important to train workers so that similar fatalities do not occur in the future.
National Work Zone Awareness Week
One occupational hazard that often takes the lives of workers occurs because drivers are not obeying traffic laws through construction zones. National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 26–30, 2021. This awareness campaign is held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving because we’ve all experienced frustration, rushing, fatigue and even complacency when driving through a construction work zone. This is another topic you could pair with a topic like worker’s memorial day or cover on its own.
World Health Day
One common theme you may have noticed in these toolbox talk topics is maintaining the health of workers. April 7 is World Health Day. This year, the focus is on building a fairer, healthier world. The COVID-19 pandemic has opened a lot of people’s eyes to some health precautions that had previously been overlooked. But if everyone works together, unnecessary injuries and illnesses can be avoided.
Use World Health Day as an opportunity to highlight your health and safety objectives within your organization. A toolbox talk in April can outline what you want workers to do to help reach those goals. At the end of the day, everyone wants to return home in the same state they arrived at work. To help achieve that goal, encourage discussions after toolbox talks to keep the momentum going and demonstrate to employees that they’re not just a number to the company.