A toolbox talk is a brief 4-5 minute interactive meeting, an opportunity to communicate safety and health ideas and concerns to workers. The talk may start off with a brief introduction by the supervisor to a safety topic or a brief description of a particular hazard and safe work practice that will be encountered during the day’s activities. Talks are best presented by someone with some expertise or knowledge of the given topic.
There’s a big difference between a talk and a formal training session. Toolbox talks, or sometimes called tailgate talks, are short, focused sessions that address one aspect of a safety topic, such as how to do a specialized job, identify and correct a certain hazard, or use a particular tool safely. They do not replace formal training. Generally they’re very no-frills and strip your safety message down to the bare essentials—no notes, no slides—just get your points across as directly and effectively as possible to a small group of employees.
Tips to get the most out of your BLR toolbox talks
Toolbox talks may be short, but that doesn't mean you should just wing it. You’ll need to consider both scheduling, delivery, and content with care.
Schedule your talks. For the best results:
- Schedule at the beginning of a shift or after a break.
- Present in a location where workers can be comfortable but also near the work area.
- Talk about 5 minutes, shorter for simple safety reminders, and occasionally longer for a particularly complicated task or hazardous situation and when attendees have many questions.
Encourage participation. Encourage interaction and feedback and be open to questions. Listen to your workers and find out if further training is needed.
Demonstrate your points. Add a "show and tell" component to your presentation. Toolbox talks should be held as close to the actual work as possible so that the supervisor, instructor, or members of the group can demonstrate the correct way to do the task. For example, when presenting on ladder safety, stand at the ladder and demonstrate proper usage.
Summarize. Conclude with a short "punchline" or phrase that sums up the talk and is easy to remember.
Keep a record. Toolbox talks qualify as safety training time. Keep records of date, time, place, subject, employees who attend, and comments from attendees and talk leader.
Safety.BLR.com has practical compliance analysis and hundreds of toolbox talks, as well as other training resources in several time-saving formats:
- Accidents: Avoid shortcuts talk
- Extension cords: Choose the right one talk
- Inspecting hazardous waste containers
- Forklifts: Tips for inspection
- Chemical safety for maintenance workers talk
- SPCC: Understanding the SPCC plan
- Training tracker forms
- Refresher training outlines
- Training checklists
Our knowledgeable editors continually add new safety talk topics. If you need a safety compliance solution, BLR has it!