31st March, 2017
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.
It's not always easy starting off 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.
It certainly takes longer to write a toolbox talk than it does to deliver one!
So, how do you write a toolbox talk?
There are several stages you need to go through to create the perfect toolbox talk, one that will be informative, engaging and snappy.
First you need to pick a subject.
Not just any subject will do.
If you pick a subject that has nothing to do with the work your team undertakes, they are going to switch off straight away.
It should be relevant, after all whats 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 that is being carried out currently, after all, 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.
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 (for legislation) and gather the information you need for your talk.
In all of our talks, we like to cover the importance of the subject, along with legislation and best practice guidance.
Try to select the most relevant information, and slim down what you include. Don't forget the talk should cover all the important points, but not take an hour to deliver!
Finally, we get to actually writing the talk.
You 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.
When we were developing our Talks Plan, we decided to structure every toolbox talk in a standard format, so that our 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 a number of ways you can choose to deliver your talk. You can go down the traditional meeting room approach, you could give handouts or present on a big screen.
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, 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 teams knowledge on a particular health and safety subject. So whats the point in going to all this trouble and not checking if your team have understood the content.
After all, it could save their life.
Just like when you write the content of your talk, the assessment should be short and simple. With our talks, we choose to ask a couple of multiple choice questions on key points to check understanding. This way you have a record of each team members results, and can quickly identify if anyone needs to go through the talk again.
Keeping a record of who has done what talk is important, 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 often for health and safety management systems or external accreditations.
Your records will also help you to 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 are not the best environmental option. If you want to assess learning with a short quiz then paper records can quickly get out of hand.
We store all your toolbox talk results online, which not only means better searching and easier storage, but also graphs, statistics and reports.
Sounds like a lot of work for a 5 minute talk, especially considering toolbox talks are best delivered daily. With our online service, we have researched and developed the talks for you. Just pick your topic and you can skip the rest of the steps!