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Toolbox talks: what’s the fuss?

WHAT IS A TOOLBOX TALK?

Toolbox talk is a term that you may have heard. Toolbox talks are an informal meeting that takes place before work begins and relates to a specific job or piece of work. Toolbox talks should always take place on the work site.  

Toolbox talks are different from “safety briefings”, which should be held daily, by supervisors, to all workers and help to foster a good health and safety culture. When we discuss Toolbox Talks, we are referring to specifically the oil and gas industries – and not the construction industry, where they are slightly different.  

WHO IS INVOLVED IN A TOOLBOX TALK?

Toolbox talks are held by the Performing Authority (PA) and include the entire work party and the Area Authority (AA). 

The Area Authority will sign off the toolbox talk, if they are happy, before allowing the work to begin.  

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO HOLD A TOOLBOX TALK?

Toolbox talks should always take place, with the entire work party, before any work begins.  

“Mini” toolbox talks may be required, and these should be held when:  

  • A new member joins the work party 
  • There has been a shift change 
  • Before beginning work on a different day 

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WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE TOOLBOX TALK?

There are various benefits to conducting a toolbox talk, which we have discussed below.

KNOWLEDGE SHARING

Holding toolbox talks allows both the sharing and refreshing of knowledgeamong colleagues. They ensure that everyone in the work party is on the same page as one another. Toolbox Talks can allow a team to come together and learn from one another, perhaps considering things that they would not have necessarily considered.

DISCUSSION

Holding toolbox talks prior to starting work allows the work party to discuss any health and safety concerns and facilitates better communications across your team. 

Additionally, it gives the work party an opportunity to step back from the job that they are about to undertake and consider the safety checks that may be required.  

SAFETY CULTURE

As well as opening up and facilitating better discussions, toolbox talks instils and strengthens a safety culture across your business, bringing members of staff together to feel confident in their abilities and also to raise any concerns that they may have. 

This type of less-formal forum can allow staff to communicate more openly and freely about a matter – safety – which is vital to your business and your team.

 

GETTING FEEDBACK

Toolbox talks can be an incredibly powerful tool, if implemented correctly. You should gather information and feedback from your workforce on their thoughts on the effectiveness of toolbox talks and how they think improvements can be made. 

By adopting suggestions, you will not only end up with a system that’s more effective, but you will find that the workforce is more engaged and likely to open up about their concerns, because they feel that the suggestions they make are worthwhile and taken on board. 

There are a number of benefits to Toolbox talks, and they’re definitely worth the fuss. Implementing these short, informal meetings before beginning work can make all the difference to your safety culture. 

 

Additional Sources:  

Health and Safety Executive – Communication Skills for Safety Briefings and Toolbox Talks – http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/lwit/assets/downloads/communications-toolbox-talks.pdf  

Step Change in Safety – https://www.stepchangeinsafety.net/search/node/toolbox%20talk  

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