How to Build a Safety Training Toolbox
Safety meetings are the key to protecting your workers and your company from the daily hazards faced on the job.
The goal of safety meetings is to increase people’s awareness. Frequent tailgate safety discussions will help your crews make it home healthy and happy every night.
Daily – Weekly - Monthly
Every day construction crews face different tasks and a different set of hazards, especially when they change locations. Holding a safety moment every day before work is realistic. It could be one or two minutes, pointing out dangers of a specific task to be done, or a weather related comment, and reminding the crew to take precautions, and to be sure to take time to drink water during the day.
Two groups are most prone to accidents and illnesses; new workers and skilled workers with 15 or 20 years of experience who have a momentary lapse in judgment. Daily and weekly safety talks keep reinforcing points to make sure it’s in worker’s thoughts when they go to work.
A five- or 10-minute toolbox meeting in the morning is good for giving a single-point lesson. Fatigue and heatstroke are common cause of accidents: When you are tired there is more of a chance of injury. Ergonomics would be another, how to pick up something correctly: keeping your back straight, using your legs, not bending over your center of gravity. If respirators are needed, give a short refresher on their fit and use.
Talk about real-life incidences to get a single point across. For instance, if someone was hurt or had a near miss, discuss what happened. This helps the crew understand the “why” when things are done a certain way for safety. After discussing the real life incident, ask your crew for suggestions for making things safer.
When starting work at a new jobsite, get the team together beforehand to discuss what’s going on at that site, and their specific work area. Five to fifteen minutes to look at the dangers like slippery surfaces, construction going on around them, the position of cranes and heavy equipment, overhead power lines, and where the first aid and eyewash stations are located.
Cover in-depth “how to” topics with half-hour or an hour PowerPoint presentations once a month or when training is necessary. For those covered by OSHA rules, hazard communications training is required once a year.
Get workers to think and participate in meetings, by asking “what would you do” questions, make it interesting and get people’s attention.
Planning and Scheduling
Keep a log of safety topics so you know what you have already covered and what subject to use for planning your next meeting. Sessions should be held on company time and you should discuss topics and hazards that are timely and specific to your employees. Think about the tools and equipment your teams use often or what hazardous situations may be likely to occur on the job. No topic is too dumb or too easy. It is important to cover the basics like ladder safety, PPE and electrical safety often. Keep a record of who is in attendance.
A routine sets expectations, so set a regular schedule for safety meetings. Block out ten minutes at the start of every morning for a brief tailgate talk. If you’re starting a job at a new location, block out 15 minutes on the first day to cover the dangers specific to that jobsite. Monday and Friday tend to be days that most workers take for personal days or vacations, so for weekly or monthly meetings, consider a mid-week schedule like every Wednesday morning, the first Thursday of every month, or every other Tuesday.
Use the communication method most likely to reach everyone. This could be email, texting, a poster on the common area bulletin board, a calendar invite or an announcement at the start or end of shift crew meetings. Let everyone know the date, time, location, length and purpose of the meeting.
Be clear about the “why” for the meeting in your communication. If you aren’t clear, nobody knows what the meeting is about; why are we having this meeting? Why should I bother to go?
If you are asking for suggestions and opinions, do just that. Often, management will call meetings to ask for “suggestions” to make a decision they have already made. If you do that too often, people catch on really fast. The appearance of asking for opinions and actually asking for opinions are different.
Safety meetings are important to keeping the injury rate down. They are valuable and productive if you follow a few key steps to communicate, engage and deliver a message that is relevant to your crew.