Creating the Right Toolbox Talk Template for Your Company’s Needs

There are many different variations and methods one can take to present a toolbox talk. Many individuals who have to present toolbox talks or safety talks on a regular basis prefer to follow a certain style to deliver their message. These individuals will often create or seek out a uniform toolbox talk template to craft their safety message to deliver to their work crews. This post covers two common toolbox talk templates and provides examples of each.

Factors that Affect the Style of Your Toolbox Talk Template

There are a number of factors that will affect how you setup your toolbox talks. Some factors could include:

  • Your company’s needs or requirements
  • Your audience
  • The scope of work occurring
  • The amount of time allotted for toolbox talks
  • Frequency of toolbox talks
  • Issues arising at the worksite

Two Options for Approaching Your Toolbox Talks

Topic of the Day Toolbox Talk

Many individuals prefer to have a topic of the day when they present a toolbox talk. This website offers talks on specific topics so it naturally serves those individuals who prefer this approach. You can find plenty of premade talks here, but it can also be easy to create your own.  If you choose to create a template for a unique or hard-to-find topic I recommend the following for a template:

Section 1: Overview. Open up the talk with why you chose that topic as well as some background information on it (injury stats, OSHA fines, past incidents, recent issues onsite, etc.).

Section 2: Discuss common issues or hazards regarding the topic. So if your topic is “Backing in Heavy Equipment” you can discuss struck-by hazards, run over fatalities, property loss, etc. Incorporate personal stories or ask for other examples of hazards from the audience.

Section 3: Discuss best practices / safeguards. Spend time to go over the most effective safeguards to prevent the incident types mentioned in the last section. Once again, get the audience involved by asking for examples.

Section 4: Summary / discussion. Quickly reemphasize why you chose that topic and why it is important to the work crew. Wrap up the talk with discussion on the topic as well as how it specifically relates to the work that will be occurring that day.

Click here to get a Word document for a basic “topic of the day toolbox talk” template.

scope of work Scope of Work Approach for Toolbox Talks

While I am a fan of having a topic of the day, I make sure it is relevant to the work going on that day or I cover the hazards and safeguards of the work occurring on site that day afterwards as well. Another option outside the standard “topic of the day” is revolving your toolbox talk directly around the scope of work for the day.

A toolbox talk focused primarily on the scope of work for the day preferably will occur after the person(s) managing the work covers the work plans with the crew. Once that is covered it makes more sense to have a toolbox talk focused on the work tasks and hazards.

The template for this method would closely follow the “topic of the day” approach:

Section 1: Pick what work tasks that are occurring that day that you would like to focus on for the talk and why they should be a focus point.

Section 2: Just like above, mention the hazards and issues relating to these work tasks. It could be multiple hazards or one specific hazard (i.e. pinch points) and how they apply to the different tasks. Use injury stats, past incidents, similar incidents, stories, etc.

Section 3: Provide mitigation actions and best practices for eliminating or mitigating the mentioned hazards for the work tasks being completed that day. Ask for examples of safeguards, best practices, lessons learned, procedures, etc. from the audience.

Section 4: Summary / discussion. Discuss why you choose the focus items that you did. Ask the audience for any other comments, concerns, or personal stories relating to the points brought up. Also give them a chance to voice any concerns regarding the work being performed or recommendations to perform tasks safer or more efficiently.

Click here to get a Word document for a basic “scope of work driven” toolbox talk template.

Summary

There is no one size fits all toolbox talk for all companies or the individuals having to present these safety messages. Either one of these toolbox templates could be perfect for you or you may find something else suits you better. Using a template however will allow you to get your thoughts in line as well as keep a uniform message between each toolbox talk.

Along with the actual toolbox talk, always remember to have a sign in sheet (not provided in the template examples) for your audience (along with the date, topic(s) covered, presenter name(s), companies in attendance, etc.) attached to any information you choose to present to your work crew(s). File all this information in an orderly fashion in an office. Keeping this information can come in handy if OSHA ever decides to swing by your workplace to ensure you are informing your workers of the hazards and safeguards of their work tasks.

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