Safety Training Topics to Address at Every Toolbox Talk

Posted by Team Slice on | 1

Man with clipboard discussing safety training topics with two women for their next toolbox talk.

One of the most important parts of industrial administration is regularly addressing safety training topics. It's vital that your workforce understands how to handle all tools and machinery, and how to deal with possibly dangerous materials and environmental conditions. Despite regulations, seasoned employees may not consider repetitive toolbox talks necessary. By learning how to make safety presentations with impact, you increase attention and focus, even when you’re revisiting these same must-review topics.

Electrical Maintenance and Precautions

It's easy to think of electrical precautions as obvious – all is good if there are no sparks or moisture. However, according to OSHA's overview of electrical hazards, as little as 6 milliamperes for women and 9 milliamperes for men will send them into shock.
Make sure that everyone knows to consistently inspect circuit breakers and fuses, and how to ground static electricity. Remind personnel to remove all metal jewelry while working, and make sure that they are aware of lockout/tagout procedures and that they only use certified, insulated tools, equipment, and clothing around live electricity.

close-up shot of a “high voltage, danger” sign

Correct Lifting Movements

People often bend and reach for items without putting much thought into it, and most people have poor habitual movement patterns. A Travelers Insurance survey backs this up. It reveals that strains and sprains are the most common types of workplace injuries, making up 30 percent of such mishaps.

Teach stretching and mobility exercises that strengthen the limbs, increase flexibility, and reduce the risks of injuries. Demonstrate proper movement patterns for tasks your employees are required to do. Have them repeat the movement several times with a partner. This will do double duty of ingraining the movement in their muscle memory and keeping them engaged in your presentation.

Encourage workers to always take a moment before lifting or grabbing anything weighing over a few pounds to remind themselves the safe way to carry out the action. Ask workers to watch out for each other: if someone sees a co-worker practicing poor form, urge them to help with a gentle reminder.

Also, set a weight limit for what employees are allowed to carry by themselves. Instruct them to either use loading equipment or ask for assistance when moving objects above the limit.

Supervisor coaching warehouse worker to lift boxes correctly

Scaffolding and Ladder Inspection and Use

Scaffolding and ladder use should be included in safety training topics for the workplace. Remind employees to check that guard, hand, and stair rails meet height requirements, and that fall protection equipment is in place.

Discuss the different uses for each type of ladder at your facility and why it is vital to adhere to duty ratings and capacities. Demonstrate proper ladder use, and have workers team up in groups and repeat the demonstration.

See that everyone knows what and how to inspect scaffolding before and after use. Emphasize that they pay particular attention to base plates and planking.

Two men in safety gear working on scaffolding

Cutting Tool Maintenance and Correct Usage

Proper maintenance of cutting tools decreases the chances for puncture wounds and lacerations. Include manufacturing instructions in your knife safety training, and teach your workforce how to safely hold, carry, and store each tool.

Teach correct use of each type of knife in your workplace - for instance, the best uses for box cutters as opposed to utility knives. As with all tools, always use the right one for the job.

Protective gear is common among safety topics, and for good reason: it prevent injuries. Review what must be used when working with sharp instruments. For example, gloves are a must, as not using them is a common reason people suffer lacerations.

Demonstrate to always cut away from the body and to protect other people from flyaway bits. Enforce a no-tolerance policy regarding not using safety gear and proper technique.

Download Our Free Box Cutter Safety Poster

Close-up of man's gloved hands while he's using a utility knife.

Heat Exhaustion and Fatigue in Your Safety Topics

It's common for heat exhaustion to develop if working in high (indoor or outdoor) temperatures. Wearing heavy protective equipment can also be a contributing factor. In 2012, according to OSHA, there were 31 heat-related worker deaths and 4,120 heat-related worker illnesses, which shows how serious this danger is.

In addition to taking mandatory breaks, remind employees to always set up watering stations or have beverage coolers available. Supply anti-fatigue mats to so that workers have a place to rest and recharge during breaks. Ask workers to download the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Tool app, which is available in Spanish and English. Available for iPhone and Android operating systems, it sends safety reminders based on the temperature.

Headshot of man with dirty face wearing safety helmet with light and wiping forehead

Handling Hazardous Materials

There's a lot more to hazardous materials than precise containers, disposal units, and labels. When covering this section of safety topics, go over spill control policies and all items in the cleanup kits.

Remind employees to keep storage and usage areas clean, and that food, drinks, and personal items are never to be near these substances. Also ask that employees make sure there are washing stations and fully stocked first aid kits nearby where any hazardous materials are stored or handled. In your presentation, include reminders about always wearing protective clothing and be specific about what items are included.

Illustrations of diamond-shaped “non-flammable gas, “oxygen,” “flammable gas,” and “inhalation hazard” signs

Identify Confined Spaces

Crew members who work in confined spaces need to understand the unique aspects of these environments. It's among the OSHA safety training topics that benefit from visual aids, which makes the following video a great resource for this discussion. It provides the precise criteria for defining confined spaces and cites key OSHA regulations. It’s also easy for workers with limited English skills to comprehend:

Presentation Tips for Health and Safety Training Topics

Follow these tips to effectively deliver your job safety topics:

  • Ask for input from members of your team as you prepare presentations, and practice speeches beforehand
  • Include hands-on instructions and have attendees repeat your demonstrations
  • Use visuals that clearly convey information; find or create some that are humorous to bring levity and good cheer to what can be dull or unpleasant subjects
  • Provide a way for attendees to submit anonymous comments
  • Follow up with a post-presentation survey and request suggestions for creative ways to present workplace safety training

Routinely Discuss Safety Training Topics

Making toolbox talks regular events results in a safe and healthy work site. Knowing how to act and respond during duties instills confidence, creates a comfortable atmosphere, and opens lines of communication. Develop a plan with your workforce to routinely discuss safety training topics so that everyone is heard and valued.

Download our Safe Cutting Paper to reduce workplace injuries

Topics: Safety Tips, Safety Training, Safety Culture

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