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Toolbox Meeting Tips

When? - Ideally, you want to have a short toolbox safety meeting the first thing in the morning on Mondays, assuming  your company has Sundays off.  I know of companies that get everybody together on Friday afternoons (because they're picking up pay checks).    If  I'm about to get money in my hand on a Friday afternoon after a long hard week of work, the last thing I'm thinking about is safety.  And how much of what was said Friday do I remember on Monday.  If your employees report to smaller job sites on Monday mornings, then have smaller safety meetings at the sites on Mondays.

Where? - You need room for every one to sit/stand comfortably and relax with as few  distractions as possible, and where you can be easily seen and heard.  If the topic is crane safety, try holding the meeting next to the sites crane if possible. 

How Long? - Try to limit the safety meeting to five or ten minutes.  It may go longer if you are discussing other job site business.  If the discussion goes on too long, it can be continued at the next meeting.

What to Say? - Say is the key word.  Don't grab a printed topic and read it.  They're meant to just be a guide not a cue card.  Pick a topic relevant to what the employees are doing or will be doing.  Do some preparation so you can give the talk in your own words.  Don't try to B.S. your audience and don't preach to or teach to them.  You might have the safety title but your audience has got the experience.  Play Columbo by asking more questions than stating safety procedures.  Getting a response from your audience means a successful meeting.  Try throwing  in a statement so wrong just to see if any one is awake and will  challenge it.

Talk about accidents or near misses that might have happened or what's been on the news/grapevine that could happen on your job.  Avoid the gory details.  Discuss an accident to help prevent another similar one from happening rather than to identify the persons involved or to place blame.

Get input from the crew about any concerns they may have or about topics that could be discussed.  Discuss any unsafe acts or conditions observed during the past week and how they were corrected.  Discuss new equipment on the job or upcoming activities.

Handouts, photos, diagrams, etc - do you think that stack of paper, diagrams, etc you hand out to employees gets read during lunch or taken home to be studied.  If you feel strongly about killing trees, put a few copies of handouts near the exit.  Don't litter the job site.  A better handout would be after discussing heat exposure in a safety meeting, give your audience a small bottle of water or Gatorade.

Remember to prepare, start on time, end on time, talk don't read, and thank your audience for their time, for doing a good job, and maintaining a good safety record.