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Since the beginning of awareness training, toolbox or tailgate talks have been a staple of workplace safety practices. They are meant to shed light on the hazards of the job and they are to be held before the work begins on the job site – lasting about 5 minutes, or so. That is industry expectation – but how may “toolbox talks” are truly held in the field? When we search the internet for toolbox talks, you find a plethora of information packaged in one or two page bulletin type sheets. The intention is to have employees gather round and someone reads the information while the crew stands around and listens. How effective do you think that is?

On the other hand, the pre-job briefing form is designed to have members of the crew review the job task, hazards, ppe, and other safety performance and task specific information before beginning the work – and the really good ones, revisit the form when the job changes – but how many do that?

When leaders establish safety expectations, it is understood that those behaviors shall be performed in the field – just like the technical tasks that complete the job. However, all too often, the good intentions for safety awareness tips meant to keep employees safe, often fall on deaf ears, don’t get the face time they deserve, or are missed all together. If leaders intend employees to think about the hazards of the job before the work begins, why are we still doing what doesn’t work?

Are we really listening to the employees working in the field? I can’t tell you the last time I saw crews standing around conducting “safety awareness training” on the job site. At best, they briefly review the pre-job briefing and set up of the work at hand.


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