26th May, 2021
How do you write a toolbox talk? It's not always easy starting with a blank page and deciding what to talk about. Even though toolbox talks are short, preparing the talk is not always so quick and simple. There are several stages you need to go through to create the perfect toolbox talk.
As creators of over 100 toolbox talks and developers of an online health and safety talks service, we like to think we know a thing or two about how to write a toolbox talk. And we know it's not always easy starting with a blank page.
What should you talk about? How should you give the talk? What topic do you pick? Who needs to hear about it? What information needs to be included? Where should you start?
Even though toolbox talks are short, preparing your talk is not always so quick and simple. It certainly takes longer to write a toolbox talk than it does to deliver one! But like with many things, preparation is the key to success.
So, how do you write a toolbox talk?
There are several stages you need to go through to create the perfect toolbox talk. A talk that will be informative, engaging and snappy. A talk that will improve health and safety.
First, you need to pick a subject. And not just any topic will do. If you choose something that has nothing to do with the work you're doing, no one will listen. Your team will switch off the minute you start. It has nothing to do with them.
The topic you choose should be relevant. After all, what's the point in delivering a talk on demolition if your team is carrying out painting and decorating work? Better to give one on harmful substances or manual handling instead.
Decide what is relevant for you, for the work you are doing right now. The whole point is to refresh health and safety knowledge. Your team should be able to use the information while it is fresh in their minds. If you pick the right topic, your team can put it into practice right away.
With our Talks Plan, you can select a topic from our massive library of toolbox talks.
Is your knowledge on the topic you have selected up to date? You can research health and safety subjects in a variety of places, the HSE website, trade associations, the government websites (e.g. for legislation) and gather the information you need for your talk.
In our talks, we like to cover the importance of the subject, along with legislation and best practice guidance. But you can choose your own structure for the information you provide in your talk. There are no fixed rules when it comes to toolbox talks.
Try to select the most relevant information, and slim down what you include. Don't forget the talk should cover all the key points, but not take an hour to deliver!
Finally, we get to write the talk. You've picked your subject and gathered the information you need. Now you can put pen to paper (or in this day and age, fingers to keyboard) and start to put the whole thing together. It should be easier to write your talk now that you have completed the first two steps.
When we were developing our Talks Plan, we decided to structure every toolbox talk in a standard format so users would be familiar with the design and layout each time they take a talk.
How you structure your talk is up to you, but remember, keep it short and however you present the information, make sure it will be easy to digest. You want to keep those receiving the talk engaged from start to finish.
Ok, so you have written your talk. That's just the start of it. Now you need to decide how to best deliver the talk to your workforce. The great thing about technology is, there are several ways you can choose to deliver your talk. There are lots of different toolbox talk formats to consider. You can go down the traditional meeting room approach, or you could give handouts or present on a big screen.
Not sure how to present your health and safety information? Here are 7 different toolbox talk formats you can choose between.
However, if you want to deliver the talk in person, getting your team together can get difficult as your team grows in size or is spread across multiple locations. We tried to overcome this problem with our Talks Plan by making toolbox talks available on a variety of devices, smartphones, tablets, and laptops etc. - reducing the time and costs associated with getting the team all in one place for a daily toolbox talk.
The whole point of your toolbox talk is to refresh your team's knowledge on a particular health and safety subject. But what's the point in going to all of this trouble if they don't understand it? After all, it could save their life. The only way you can be sure the content is delivered successfully is by checking or assessing.
Ask questions. What did this mean? Why is this important? What could happen if things go wrong?
Just like when you write the content of your talk, the assessment should be short and simple. With our Talks Plan, we choose to ask a couple of multiple-choice questions to check the information within the talk has been understood. By doing this, you have a record of each team members results, and you can quickly identify if anyone needs to go through the talk again.
Keeping a record of who has done what talk is important for your records. Not only as evidence that your business is actively carrying out toolbox talks to comply with the legal requirements to provide continuing health and safety information, instruction and training to your workforce but also for health and safety management systems or external accreditations. Your records will also help you see who has done which talks, when, their results, and when they need refreshing.
Paper records can be convenient on-site, but can quickly get lost under mountains of other paperwork, and they are not the best environmental option. If you want to assess learning with a short quiz, paper records can quickly get out of hand.
We store all your toolbox talk results online. With online results you get better searching, easier storage, graphs, statistics and reports.
Does it sound like a lot of work for a 5-minute talk, especially considering toolbox talks are best delivered daily? With our online service, your talks are already researched and developed for you. Just pick your topic and you can skip the rest of the steps!
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.
Get toolbox talks for you and your team with HASpod talks membership.Talks Plan
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