A Toolbox Talk Reminder

Workers attending morning safety meeting at job site This is your reminder, to set that reminder. We live in a world of reminders. The credit card company texts you a reminder that your bill is due, your car dings when it’s low on fuel, and you walk past a “Safety Comes First” poster on your way into work. Most of us encounter these proactive reminders just about every day.  

Unfortunately, sometimes reminders come in less pleasant, reactive forms. A police officer stops you on your drive home for an expired license plate, you get a “where are you” text from the person you had lunch plans with, or an incident happens at work because safety wasn’t at the forefront of an employee’s mind. I think we can all agree that proactive reminders are preferred, especially when talking about safety. 

It’s easy to set a reminder on your calendar to meet someone for lunch, but how do you effectively remind employees that safety really is the most important part of their job? With a wide range of answers to that question, let’s talk about an easy safety reminder- the toolbox talk. 

A toolbox talk is a quick, informal training that focuses on a specific topic, or hazard, and describes methods of controlling that hazard. This training approach presents opportunities for discussion amongst employees about the topic. Even though “toolbox” is in the name, this type of training is not reserved for a specific industry – they are intended for all industries. 

For example, the forecast is predicting a winter storm that is likely to cause slippery conditions due to snow and ice, so you conduct a toolbox talk on winter slip, trip, fall prevention. You might not be conveying any new knowledge about how to work safely in these slippery conditions, but it serves as a reminder to employees to take necessary precaution to avoid injury. During the training, encourage employee participation by asking open-ended questions. This discussion might bring to light hazards you were unaware of and/or new ways of controlling the hazard. 

Benefits of toolbox talk style trainings: 

  • Remind employees that safety is the most important part of their job
  • Fight complacency 
  • Promote safety in a less formal setting
  • Provide a refresher of past, more in-depth trainings
  • Encourages conversation about the topic, and other related safety issues

Committing to scheduled toolbox talks will help ensure you reap full benefits of these quick training sessions.  Every workplace is different. Some organizations might find that a recurring Monday morning toolbox talk is a great way to start the week. Others might find that monthly works best for their schedule.

It’s important to note that toolbox talk style trainings are not meant to replace required employee safety training. If you are unsure of what employee safety training is required take a look at the Training Requirements in OSHA Standards publication, which can be found on OSHA's website

You can find toolbox talk style trainings in a variety of places, including a Google search for “toolbox talks.”  If you are a MEMIC policyholder, you can find these trainings on Safety BLR and by searching “MEMIC Minutes" on MEMIC's Safety Director. In addition, MEMIC has a small sampling of resources available to everyone on MEMIC.com; below are examples of toolbox talk style trainings, or MEMIC Minutes: 

So, this is your reminder to set a toolbox talk reminder – to be used as a safety reminder for your employees. 

Thank you for coming to my toolbox talk.