• Leadership Update

Help Your Facility Conduct Successful Toolbox Talks

You may know them as morning check-ins, tailgate meetings, safety briefings, or toolbox talks. You may have had one this morning.

Though the names may be different, they are all brief, safety-focused discussions among managers or supervisors and workers. Toolbox talks can be an effective means for promoting a strong safety culture by keeping workers and supervisors up-to-date and informed about safety concerns, relevant procedures, and topics. ISRI members can sign up to receive weekly Safety Points and Geared Up for Safety toolbox talks developed by ISRI staff.

Who should lead the toolbox talk?

Supervisors commonly lead toolbox talks but any subject matter experts available at the worksite can lead such a discussion. Any qualified management representative can give direction to employees (Site Supervisors, Foremen, General Manager, etc.). Other workers at the site can share knowledge, skills, and experience. You may wish to look to experts in your group i.e. a safety officer or safety advisor. These individuals may have interesting and relevant examples from their daily inspections or routines to share. Involving all workers helps to ensure that all hazards are identified so that workers can perform their tasks safely.

How long should toolbox talks be?

A toolbox talk needs to be long enough to clearly identify the hazards, the risks, and how you’re going to control those hazards. There should be an opportunity for some discussion, questions from workers, and responses from the employer representatives. Remember, a toolbox talk is not a substitute for training. Employers must ensure that workers receive training for the jobs they’re performing to work safely.

Where and when should toolbox talks take place?

Meetings are best held in a comfortable location at the beginning of a shift, after lunch or a break, or incorporated into another operational meeting. Be aware that noise levels or other factors nearby don’t create distractions for the participants.


 Tips for effective talks:

  • Prepare in advance.
  • Allocate a sufficient amount of time – remember to allow for time to answer questions!
  • Ensure all workers are involved in the talk.
  • The topic must be relevant to workplace safety.
  • Focus on identifying hazards and risks.
  • Include controls that can be put into place to mitigate hazards and risks.
  • Use subject matter experts.
  • Lead by example.
  • Keep the participants focused on safety – be careful not to become distracted by other unrelated topics/issues/complaints.

Does everyone need to attend?

Yes, everyone should be required to attend the talk. That way, everybody involved knows what the risks and hazards are in the work that is about to be done and they have the ability to do the job safely. Tracking attendance at the talk ensures that you know that the person you’re sending off to do the task has the information they need to work safely.


If you would like to receive ISRI’s weekly Safety Updates or any other of ISRI’s newsletters, go to Communication Preferences under My Account on the ISRI website.

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