Safety Talks

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What Are Workplace Safety Talks

Safety talks are a short safety message for the members of a work crew prior to work beginning. These talks can be as short as a few minutes or longer than 20 minutes. On average, safety talks are in the range of 5 or 10 minutes long in duration at most companies when conducted often. The talks can cover a range of topics or just a single focal point.

Below are answers to some other common questions individuals may have about conducting safety talks for their work crews.

What are Some Other Names for Safety Talks

There are many names for safety talks. Some of the more common names are toolbox talks, safety moments, safety briefings, safety pep talks, and tailgate meetings. For the most part many of these names represent the same thing. Although there can be slight differences between companies or industries.

Why are Safety Talks Important

When done correctly these talks can have a profound effect on the overall safety at a workplace. Companies who spend the time to conduct these meetings are less likely to have injuries compared to a company who does not hold them on a regular basis.

Conducting safety talks often is an effective way to deliver relevant and timely safety messages to an entire work crew. The time spent conducting these talks also goes a long way into reinforcing prior safety training.

Even just holding a 5-minute safety meeting everyday equates to a massive amount of safety knowledge for your work force over a years’ time. To be exact- it results in over 20 hours of safety education per employee a year! (5 minutes X 5 work days per week X 50 work weeks= 1250 minutes… 1250 minutes/60 minutes per hour= 20.8 hours of safety education) Imagine the difference that education can make if you make the most out of every safety talk!

What Topics Should You Cover for These Talks

The topic or topics you should cover for next safety talk will vary greatly from what topic(s) another company should be discussing. Some general questions you can ask yourself to narrow in on some topics:

  • What training needs reinforced?
  • What problems have we been having lately?
  • What are common injuries in this line of work?
  • What have our near misses been a result of?
  • What trends are occurring in the workplace or in our industry?

There are many other questions or guidelines you can use to determine what topics or topics you should cover in your next safety talk. Keep topics useful, relevant, and timely.

Where to Find Safety Topics Online

This site has one of the largest libraries of free safety talks found online today. That being said, there are also a number of great resources online to find topics for your next safety meeting. One of our favorite resources for topics is on OSHA’s website. They have a page called Safety and Health Topics that has a large list of high quality topics. Some other high quality and reputable sources for safety talks or materials to support talks:

For more resources check out our page of other EHS websites that offer free materials for safety professionals by clicking here.

who should conduct safety talksWho Should Present a Safety Talk

The person who is directing the work should be the one responsible for conducting or leading the safety talk. The responsibility at many companies, however, falls onto the safety officer or safety manager instead. The reason for having the individual who is directing the work lead the talk is to show support of the safety message and efforts to work safely.

If it is constantly a safety officer’s responsibility to present a safety talk then employees can be led to believe that the frontline supervisors or managers do not support safety. If their supervisors or managers are not participating in the safety efforts why should they?

The safety manager or officer should instead serve more of an advisory role to the supervisor conducting the talk. They can provide the supervisor with topics, materials, or information for the talk as well as chime in as needed to add value.

How Often Should You Conduct Safety Talks

There is no short and dry answer to how often your company should be conducting safety talks. Some companies do multiple safety talks daily and other companies may only do them monthly. A monthly schedule is probably way too sparingly for most companies and two talks a day may be too often for others.

Many companies find that conducting daily or weekly safety talks is the best choice. At many companies, daily safety meetings prior to work beginning for the day is appropriate. Taking the time each day before work begins to hold a meeting ensures employees start the day off with a safety message. Like mentioned earlier these talks do have to be extremely long. A lot of value can be added in a short amount of time if the talks are completed often.

Where Should Safety Talks Be Conducted

These talks should be held in a place where employees are comfortable and can focus. Meeting or break rooms are a common place where companies choose to hold their safety meetings. Another setting that can be even more effective is the work area(s) themselves.

This should only be done if the work area is comfortable, safe, and convenient for all involved in the talk. Conducting the talk in the work area itself can help employees visualize the information being conveyed as well as allow the presenter to point out specific examples of what they are discussing.

If holding it in the work area is not an option pictures or maps of the work site can be great tools so that employees can visualize what is being said.

What Else You Can Do to Have a Better Safety Meeting

There are many things you can do to hold a better safety meeting. A few quick tips for holding a better safety meeting that has not already been mentioned in this post:

  • Prepare ahead of time.
  • Keep topics relevant and timely to the audience.
  • Only take the time necessary to cover the topic; do not drag it out.
  • Get the audience involved by asking for stories or examples.
  • Use visual aids as needed to help get your message across.
  • Have fun- don’t take yourself so seriously!

For more tips check out this post on this site that outlines 10 tips for a better toolbox talk.

Does OSHA Require Safety Talks

While OSHA does not specifically require a company to hold safety talks or toolbox talks in any of their standards, doing so can play a part in helping to ensure compliance with some standards. For example, OSHA requires that employers make employees aware of the hazards of the work that they do and how to eliminate them.

One specific example of this is found in the construction standard under 1926.21(b)(2) where OSHA states: “The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury”.

While safety training will be a large part in ensuring compliance with this specific regulation, safety talks are also a way to help to ensure compliance. These talks need to have the correct documentation to do so.

Correctly Documenting Safety Talks

Without documenting safety talks there is no actual proof they were done. Meaning there is nothing to show OSHA or someone in your company in response to whether or not you were educating your employees on the hazards involved in their work.

Every time a talk is conducted a sign-in sheet should be completed by the presenter and signed by everyone present for the meeting. Some guidelines for documentation:

  • Include the date and time.
  • Include the presenter(s) name(s).
  • Have everyone sign the sheet.
  • Be detailed about what topics were discussed.
  • Attached any materials used for the talk to the sign-in sheet.
  • File documentation in chronological order so they can be easily found to reviewed if needed.

Summary

The answers to the who, what, when, why, and how of safety talks can be as long of list as the possible topics you could cover in your next talk. The bottom line is your company should be conducting these talks on a regular basis as well as giving thought on how to continually improve on giving them. Use some of the insight here and tailor it to your company’s needs.