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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

What do you talk about in toolbox talks or safety meetings?

Maralyn Kastel - Thursday, May 23, 2013

How many times have you struggled to come up with accurate, effective material to use in your toolbox talks or safety meetings? If you're like most of us, this happens often.

We all know that we need to hold toolbox talks or safety meeting.  However in my experience, these are often:

  • hastily prepared
  • lack any support documents (eg handouts for workers)
  • performed by time-poor supervisors
  • postponed, cancelled or don’t run to schedule
  • lacking in interaction between workers and the presenter

Getting workers to “buy in” to the process doesn’t come easily in many organisations.  However over time, if the topics are presented professionally, have good content and workers are encouraged to participate, a shift in worker engagement will happen.

The frequency of these meetings will depend on the size, nature and location of the workplace. If you perform high risk hazardous activities you may need to do daily toolbox meetings - such as on construction sites. Most trades or warehouse businesses will hold a weekly or fortnightly meeting and in businesses with traditionally low risks such as an office environment a monthly or even quarterly meeting will be sufficient. 

The challenge, particularly in high risk activities is the time and resources required.  Best practice businesses run Toolbox Talks that typically last around 10-15 minutes each. However this requires a degree of preparation and commitment from the presenter to make sure they topics are meaningful and encourage workers to participate.

What do you talk about?

Choosing the topic; researching the material; finding examples and then preparing these into a presentation all takes time. With a hectic and busy schedule, the process of doing this for a 10 minute toolbox or safety meeting even sees experienced supervisors struggle.

Tips for toolbox talk or safety meeting presentations

One easy tried and tested method is to prepare a template that has topic headings such as:

  • What workers need to know
  • Identified hazards
  • The risks workers face from the hazard
  • Risk controls
  • What workers must do and what they must not do

These headings can be used to prepare toolbox talks at a less busy time.  You can use these headings to cover a whole range of topics and the presentations can be given on a rotating basis.

To get you started download a "List of Toolbox Topics" and check out our Toolbox Talk factsheets which are ready to go: short and succinct, and cover a wide range of topics. They are suitable for many different industries and will help you get your safety message across to your workers.

You know what you must do

An employer is required under the Work Health & Safety Act to consult with workers and provide information, supervision and training in work health & safety issues.  Consulting with workers is required when making decisions about:

  • identifying hazards in the workplace
  • assessing the risks
  • implementing risk controls
  • resolving health & safety issues
  • health monitoring of workers
  • facilities for worker’s welfare
  • procedures for consultation
  • workplace conditions
  • changes to the workplace that affect workers
  • information and training

The best day of the week is a safe day – make that the number 1 priority every day.

Related Toolbox Talks



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