2nd February, 2022

How To Find The Best Toolbox Talk Subjects

Finding enough subjects to keep your toolbox talks regular and interesting might seem like a big ask. How can you come up with enough ideas to do one every day or every week? Here are ten questions that help you find the best toolbox talk subjects for your business.

How To Find The Best Toolbox Talk Subjects header image

If you plan to give toolbox talks to improve safety on your sites, you will need to deliver them regularly. Ideally, you will provide a new toolbox talk daily. But there are 250+ working days in a year. How can you come up with enough health and subjects to cover a different safety issue every day?

Well, first, do not let that number put you off. No one is going to put you on the spot and expect you to list out 250+ safety issues off the top of your head.

And you don't even have to start with daily toolbox talks. While there are massive benefits to giving a safety briefing each day, there are no rules to say you have to cover a new subject every day. You could tackle a different topic each week and break it down into small daily talks.

But even just coming up with your first talk might seem daunting. What should it be about? Why does it matter?

In this blog post, we will give you some ideas for finding toolbox talk subjects relevant to your business so that you can deliver daily (or weekly) talks and never run out of content.

Finding the best subjects

Finding the best toolbox talk subjects for your team will often depend on two things: the work they do and the health and safety risks they get exposed to at work.

We have a list of the best 100 safety topics for daily toolbox talks, but they might not all apply to your business.

The best subjects for someone else's business might not be the best ones for your business. Every workplace is different. And so is every team. This is especially true in industries like construction, where every site has unique features and challenges.

Toolbox talks need to be relevant. Why give your team a talk about asbestos safety if they work on new builds where asbestos is never present?

Every talk you give should have a point. And the main point is to improve health and safety. If the subject you deliver is not relevant, then you are wasting your time and your teams. They can't apply the information. And you won't improve health and safety.

So, what is a relevant health and safety talk subject for your team?

You can ask several questions to help you to narrow down the best toolbox talk subjects that will apply in your workplace:

1. What work are you doing?

Start with the work you are doing. It's an easy question that should give you a few subjects to get you started.

For example, if you are working on a refurbishment project, good subjects might include asbestos awareness, CDM contractor, and occupied buildings.

construction damaged wall

2. Where do you work?

Not just the work that you do, but also the place that you work, can impact health and safety. Look at your work environment for ideas on toolbox talk subjects.

For example, if you work in an office, you could have subjects on cable management, electrical safety, and DSE. Or in a warehouse, lifting equipment, manual handling and forklift safety.

3. What tools and equipment do you use?

The tools and equipment you use in your workplace can introduce hazards, like vibration and falls. You can raise awareness and improve safety by covering these as toolbox talk subjects.

For example, if you work on construction sites, you could deliver talks on scaffolding, hand tools, site plant, and transport management.

4. What substances and materials are involved?

Whatever work you do, it's likely that you use or work with substances and materials. Covering the risks involved or safe handling of these substances can be good toolbox talks subjects, as it will improve knowledge within your team.

For example, if you are painting and decorating, good subjects include COSHH, chemical safety and flammable liquids.

paint roller

5. What hazards are present?

Every workplace has health and safety hazards. And if you are not sure what yours are, a hazard identification toolbox talk could be a great place to start!

For example, if you are doing road works, good subjects can include excavations, silica dust, and underground services.

6. What controls are in place?

You'll have health and safety controls in your workplace, but how much does your team know about them? Do they know when to use them? Do they understand why they are needed?

Maybe you wear PPE, or use RPE, or you provide fire extinguishers or permits to work.

7. What are the main risks?

Raising awareness of the main risks in your work can make a massive difference to health and safety. Your team might not even be aware of some of the long term health issues you have concerns about, so bringing this up in conversation is a simple way to improve standards.

For example, if you use vibrating tools, you could cover subjects like HAVS and vibration. Or if you come into contact with hazardous substances, talks on the substances such as asbestos, lead, silica, or the risks like dermatitis, can raise awareness.

concrete breaker

8. What legislation and regulations apply?

Your team doesn't need to memorise the contents of every health and safety regulation that applies to their work. But a quick 5-minute talk letting them know the main points helps keep them, and your business, within the law.

For example, construction workers need to know about CDM; if you work with hazardous substances, you should be aware of COSHH; and if you're lifting or carrying, the manual handling regulations apply.

9. What do accident and near-miss records tell you?

Your accident and near-miss records can tell you what areas need improvement. And discussing these subjects and the changes planned with your team helps get them on board.

If your team have reported several events involving trips, then subjects like slips and trips, good housekeeping, and waste management could encourage workers to help keep a tidier workplace.

If you don't have near-miss reporting in place yet, you could start with a toolbox talk on near-miss reporting!

10. What do workers want to know?

You can even take requests! Your team might be coming up against health and safety challenges or have concerns. For example, if your team might be worried about stress, or security, violence, or fire safety.

A toolbox talk might not resolve the issue on its own, but it's an easy way to start a conversation about it.

If you need help writing content for your talks, here are 30 free toolbox talks for construction. Or you can use our Talks Plan for online access and record-keeping for your toolbox talks.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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