What is a Toolbox Talk?

A toolbox talk is a short safety meeting that’s held just before a shift starts. The name ‘toolbox talk’ comes from employees gathering around a toolbox for the meetings, but they’re also known as ‘pre-starts’.

These regular meetings focus on a single aspect of health and safety specific to your work site. The purpose of a toolbox talk is to create a safety discussion and receive feedback from your team.

Topics can be used to pass on important safety information but also work as a prompt for employees to discuss safety and identify potential hazards.

They should be a conversation, so be sure to break the ice and engage them from the start. Ask questions, inject humour or ask them to imagine themselves in certain situations to learn what they would do.

Remember: keep your talk brief, stick to just one topic and make sure it’s applicable to your workplace and team.

Are you new to toolbox talks?

It can be hard to think of topics for your next safety meeting. Sometimes you’re ready to go with a handful of ideas, other times you’re staring at a blank document. Occasionally you’ll find yourself reading a blog post for some last-minute inspiration.

The key to an effective toolbox talk is understanding that it’s a chance to engage with your team. It should not simply be a presentation. It should be a two-way discussion. Your teammates are typically the ones most exposed to risk and have an understanding of what works practically in the real world – so they’re usually the ones with the best ideas!