19th May, 2020

How To Start A Safety Talk

It might sound simple, but safety talks can often get forgotten, and on many of the sites we have visited safety talks just don't get done as often as management would like them to be. In this post we look at some of the best ways to start a safety talk.

How To Start A Safety Talk header image

Health and safety talks are important. They can raise awareness of hazards. They can help improve health and safety. They can help people understand risks. And they can help you comply with your legal requirements.

But how do you start a safety talk?

It might sound simple, but safety talks can often get forgotten. But why don't they get done? Well, sometimes it's because having to talk about something for 5 minutes to a group can seem daunting. Preparation and practice are key here. Planning for safety is essential. Even when you plan to do them, in many workplaces safety talks just don't get done as often as management would like them to be. But once you get into the routine of starting a health and safety talk, that's half the battle won.

Of course, you can start a talk any way you like. It's better to do something, then to do nothing. But for the best chance of a successful talk, one that delivers a message, a talk that is listened to, and one that makes an impact, you should:

  1. Pick a good time
  2. Pick a good topic
  3. Prepare the talk
  4. Deliver the talk

And once you are at the delivery stage, you can start your talk. Because having a good topic prepared, and giving the talk at the right time, means the talk will be both interesting and useful to your team.

Timing is important. While health and safety talks should be short and sweet, they also need to be relevant and grab attention. Start a safety talk at the wrong time, and your team might not be listening to the important safety message you are trying to share.

One of the best times to start a safety talk is at the start of the shift. This is the most beneficial time to deliver the talk because:

Thinking about it, this makes sense. At the beginning of the day (or the start of the shift) your team is ready to work. If you can give them some relevant information in the talk, that applies to the work they will be doing, they are going to take notice. Because it applies to them. It's information that is going to be useful there and then.

If you did the talk at the end of the shift, the team will go home and the information will start to go stale before they have a chance to apply it to their work. They might have their minds on other things at the end of the shift, like what they are doing that evening, or picking the kids up, or what's for dinner. And if your talk is going to delay them leaving. They are so busy thinking about all those other things, your talk just didn't sink in at all.

You don’t have to be rigid with your safety talk schedule, having some flexibility with when you give a safety talk means you can start it at one of the best and easiest times. But aim for the start of the shift, when you can get the most attention.

And we have mentioned it already, but the best way to start a safety talk is when it is most relevant. So only start your talk once you have picked a topic. Your talk should be short and to the point. So figure out what the point of your talk is before you start.

Timing is not just about the time of day, but also about the timing of the work you are doing. There's not a great deal of relevance in a talk about underground services if you are working on a decorating project. Plan your talks to be delivered at the time they relate to the work being undertaken or the issues you are experiencing.

Let’s say the site is getting messy, this is a perfect opportunity to start a safety talk. Get the team together and start a talk on good housekeeping. Raise awareness of the dangers of a messy site, from slip and trip hazards, to fire risks.

When your about to start some work at height. Great, another opportunity for a safety talk, maybe one on scaffolding? Let your team know the dangers of working at height, and the equipment in place to provide safe access, and how to safely use it.

Pick a subject that is relevant to your work

About to start some excavation work? Start a talk about excavations or underground services. Make sure everyone knows how to act safely in and around excavations, and what rules must be followed.

If the talk is relevant to the work that is being carried out, or a health and safety subject that keeps cropping up on-site, it will be more interesting and useful to the team. They can apply the knowledge, ask questions and put forward ideas. Each day, your workplace becomes safer, as people apply the information from the talk.

There are hundreds of health and safety topics you can choose from. And with regular talks, you can quickly build up the level of health and safety awareness in your workplace. Over time, you will cover more and more topics, in short, relevant bursts. And before you know it, health and safety has become a positive habit for every member of your workforce.

Now you have your topic sorted, you need to talk about it. Health and safety talks are easier to start when you have something prepared, so get some notes together on a relevant subject, or use one of our pre-prepared toolbox talks.

Remember, health and safety talks on-site should be short and to the point. 5-10 minute refreshers, rather than full health and safety courses. So don't worry about writing an essay on the topic. Just include the important key information your team needs to know. And for larger topics, it might make sense to break the talk down over several days, so that the information is still easy to digest when delivered in a talk format.

Go ahead, start a safety talk, we've prepared 30 free toolbox talks for you to download today.

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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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