4th June, 2020
Toolbox talks are short health and safety talks, mostly used on construction sites. While the term isn't limited to the construction industry, toolbox talks are an important way to spread health and safety information on site. Let's find out what makes toolbox talks important in construction.
Toolbox talks are short health and safety talks that are mostly used on construction sites. While this term isn't limited to the construction industry, toolbox talks are an important way to spread health and safety information on site. Let's find out more about what makes toolbox talks important in construction.
The term toolbox talk is most often heard in construction. You also have health and safety talks and health and safety moments in other industries. And essentially, these are the same kind of thing. But the term toolbox talk is mostly used on construction sites. Before we look at why toolbox talks are important, let’s consider what toolbox talks are.
Toolbox talks are short health and safety talks. It’s as simple as that. They are designed as a short refresher on a single health and safety subject or topic. Quick and simple. And these safety talks should be delivered frequently. Sometimes weekly, but ideally daily.
Why are these health and safety toolbox talks important? And why are they so important in construction?
Well, construction is a high-risk industry. According to HSE statistics, you're more likely to get injured if you work in construction than in most other industries, like manufacturing, transport, storage or administration. And because of this, a construction site is one of the most dangerous places to work in the UK.
So to make construction sites as safe as they can be, the people working on them need to know about the hazards involved, and how to work safely to reduce the risks.
With construction work being risky, the need for careful planning is essential to get work done safely. This involves setting out a health and safety plan, carrying out risk assessments, making sure people have the right training and experience, and putting together safe systems of work.
But none of the above is useful if people don't know about it. And understand what they need to do. Having all your paperwork and training records in place is great, but that information needs to be put to use. And one reason toolbox talks can be an important part of your health and safety management is that they can deliver new knowledge.
Toolbox talks won't take the place of a training course, but they can provide additional information on smaller hazards that can still trip you up on site. You might not have a full training course on slips trips and falls for example. But since slips and trips account for around 40% of all reported major injuries, it’s certainly an important subject to make your team aware of.
So, a toolbox talk is perfect for giving your team vital information on the causes and how to prevent slips, trips and falls on or around the site.
Another reason toolbox talks are important is that they can refresh existing knowledge. You may have sent your team on a number of health and safety training courses. Asbestos awareness, working at height, ladder safety to name a few.
Toolbox talks are not a replacement for these full training courses. However, how often are these training courses taken? Annually? Every 3 years? Every 5 years? Some courses need to be refreshed more often than others, but all usually go at least a year before they need to be refreshed.
And as time goes by, people tend to forget some of the things they learned on that course they went on a few months, or even years ago. Toolbox talks are perfect for refreshing knowledge in between these full courses, to keep the health and safety message in mind, and prevent standards from slipping.
Toolbox talks can be delivered at the right time. While your training courses might be done at a time you can schedule them in, and your safe systems of work might be planned weeks in advance, your toolbox talks can be used to provide this information when it is needed. Working at height today? Give a talk at the start of the shift to refresh awareness of the risks, and remind your team what they learned on that course 6 months ago.
These 5 - 10 minute talks can fit in when you need them, and when the information can be most useful. Right before it is needed. No need to send your team off-site to a classroom, the talk can be delivered there and then.
Toolbox talks can also help you to comply with the law. As we are have written previously, toolbox talks are not a specific legal requirement. However, employers are required to provide information, instruction, and training to employees. Toolbox talks can be part of that delivery of information and instruction to the workforce.
Toolbox talks or health and safety talks are important in all industries. And in a high-risk industry such as construction, they are especially important to help keep the workforce safe.
Wondering how to come up with enough topics for regular toolbox talks? Check out our blog post with details of 100 toolbox talk topics you can use. Or manage your toolbox talks online with the Talks Plan.
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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