Tool-box meetings

Tool-box meetings

Guest post by George Robotham

You can find heaps of free safety toolbox talk resources HERE

Regular, short, sharp, tool-box meetings can be an excellent means of getting the safety message to employees and resolving safety problems. These talks are a visual commitment to safety, open lines of communication and help to meet legislative requirements for consultation.

A search of the internet will reveal many sources of packaged, prepared tool box talks, many free. Whilst these have their uses they cannot beat analysing your audiences needs and presenting something to meet their needs.

The following advice is given for the conduct of these meetings-

  • Find a quiet area free of distractions
  • Use open-ended questions to promote involvement, positively reinforce responses to questions and comments
  • Remember the 6P rule-Prior Preparation Prevents P—s Poor Performance
  • Present topics that are immediately relevant to the needs of employees
  • A bit of humour does not go astray
  • Research your topic and generally be organised
  • Audience interaction is always a good idea
  • It helps if those presenting have had some training in personal presentation skills.
  • Avoid lecture style presentations wherever possible
  • When you cannot answer questions raised find out and provide feedback to the group
  • Have a set agenda and publish minutes, including to relevant noticeboards. The minutes record discussion and outline agreed actions
  • Topics can include a review of incidents, observations on practice, safety alerts, legislative updates and safety initiatives
  • A guest speaker or relevant audio-visual presentation can add variety
  • Tool-box meetings can be used to revise essential topics from inductions
  • Having a set time every month has advantages
  • The OHS professional can be a guest presenter and source of relevant material
  • The meetings can be general safety training, an explanation of a new safety initiative, a review of existing work procedures or a general safety motivation tool
  • Duration is generally 15-30 minutes
  • Generally conducted by the supervisor helped by the OHS professional as necessary
  • Thoughts are varied on whether the meeting should be strictly about safety, my view is that safety should be the dominant content
  • Be wary of people “saving up” their safety concerns until the tool-box meeting. Encourage prompt reporting of all safety concerns
  • Have an attendance sheet where participants sign off
  • Thank people for their participation
  • Lead with enthusiasm, passion and your own personal style
  • State your objective for the meeting and after the meeting evaluate to ensure the objective has been achieved
  • Involvement of senior people in the meeting can demonstrate commitment but may inhibit discussion
  • Start and end on time
  • Some organisations publish a 6 or 12 month schedule of tool box talks and provide training resource material to supervisors. Tool box talks may also be held prior to undertaking high risk or difficult tasks or when problems are noticed. Some organisations have a quick tool box meeting at the beginning of every shift to discuss the safety implications of the work to be done on that shift
  • You must create a no-fear, no-blame environment where people are prepared to honestly speak their mind without fear of recrimination
  • Define responsibilities of the parties
  • Establish ground rules
  • Manage disruptive behaviour
  • Summarise key points at the end of the meeting
  • Celebrate success and do not take yourself too seriously

 

George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

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