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6 Speaking Topics That Make Toolbox Talks Easy in May

Toolbox talk on site while wearing fall protection

May is a month that brings a lot to celebrate and weather that is typically more enjoyable. You’ll note that May is host to Mother’s Day, Armed Forces Day, and Memorial Day on the calendar. And when it comes to finding May-specific toolbox topics, there are a lot of things that aren’t on your typical calendar that people celebrate. 

Motorcycle Safety and National Bike Month

Spring has arrived and as the weather gets nicer, you’ll notice more people getting out on roadways and trails. If you ride a motorcycle or a bicycle, or drive a car and have to share the road, bike safety is an important issue. 

Make sure that your toolbox talk focuses not only on people riding bikes but driving cars as well, because inattention or distraction may cause drivers to not be aware of their surroundings—someone crashing into you could be just as deadly as when you crash into them. After all, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “In 2016, there were 34,439 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes. The victims in those crashes included 5,286  motorcyclists, 5,987 pedestrians and 840 bicyclists.”  

In order to bring awareness to bike safety, we’ve developed a couple of toolbox talks that cover all of the things you need to know about being aware of cyclists and pedestrians while driving, and how to be prepared while riding your bicycle. From pre-trip inspection to how to prepare for travel, and tips on how to follow the rules of the road, avoid distractions, and anticipate others’ mistakes, these toolbox talks have everything you need to promote 24/7 safety.

Clean Air Month

The importance of clean air has been observed since 1972 (at first it was observed for only a week but since 1994 it’s been observed for the entire month of May). In the workplace, respiratory protection is a way to protect workers from otherwise unavoidable dirty air and the occupational diseases and injuries that go along with it. During May toolbox talks and safety meetings, you should introduce or review your company’s respiratory protection plan. 

This topic could provide multiple toolbox talks throughout the month. In addition to reviewing the plan, you could also do a toolbox talk on selecting the right protection for the job, training on proper use, a talk and demonstration on fit testing, and another talk and demonstration on proper cleaning/maintenance. For details on these topics and more, check out our blog post: Breathe Easy With a Good Respiratory Protection Plan, which may help you develop your toolbox talks.

Mental Health Month

For 72 years, Mental Health America has observed May as Mental Health Month. The recent pandemic has only made the growing mental health problem worse. According to the 2021 COVID-19 and Mental Health: A Growing Crisis report, there was a 62% increase from 2019 in the number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression. Regardless of your situation—whether you’re isolated or your routine hasn’t changed much—the stress that this pandemic has caused impacts everyone. 

Because 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, it’s important to know how to deal with them. Stress is known to cause mental health problems—which is why SafeStart developed a quick handout on stress and safety to help you learn more about workplace stress, how to look for causes, what to do to help employees identify stress, and how to develop real-time stress reduction skills.  Download it for free here—it has a couple of handy checklists that could be useful in your toolbox talk.

Electrical Safety Month

May is Electrical Safety Month. Electrical violations are a leading cause of death on construction sites. This year’s theme for Electrical Safety Month is “Connected to Safety.” The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESF) has several resources you can use to aid your toolbox talk, whether your focus is workplace-specific, on vehicles, or uses a 24/7 safety approach, including safety at home.

Or you could choose any number of topics related to electrical safety to base a toolbox topic on. More specifically, you could focus on methods of preventing electrical shock like guarding, insulation and electrical protective devices, grounding, and safe work practices. Another great topic could involve reviewing the symbols and signs that warn people of electrical hazards related to the equipment.

North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week

Aside from the monthly national days, the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week is observed every year in the first full week of May (this year it will be observed from May 2–8, 2021) in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. 

The goal of the week is to focus on the importance of preventing injuries and workplace illnesses. With the right planning, you could conduct a different toolbox talk for each day of the week. Don’t worry, we’ve got everything you need to plan NAOSH week all right here.

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