How to Run Effective Toolbox Meetings

In our industry, safety is undoubtedly the priority – and equally important is keeping it at the forefront of your employees’ minds. With that being said, it can be difficult to do so in a way which really means something to them; it being paramount to running a successful manufacturing operation doesn’t make safety the most exciting topic to talk about.

Enter the toolbox meeting. Toolbox meetings, or toolbox talks, are part-and-parcel to any manufacturing business leader’s schedule. Offering a way to quickly impart safety knowledge, protocols and tips to your workforce in a succinct, engaging manner, they usually cover just one subject in detail (rather than being a ‘cover-all’ solution).

With that in mind, running effective toolbox meetings come down to a few key factors. Here are my top tips for ensuring your meetings hold maximum impact with employees, and truly help them better understand individual aspects of manufacturing safety.

Keep it current

There’s no time like the present – as a manager, you’re undoubtedly already abreast of every incident, accident or injury which goes on in your own business and should use these as relevant topics for toolbox meetings. But what about the news, current affairs? Or even drawing from the tasks which need to be done this very day for inspiration? The more current your choice of topic is, the more effective your meeting will be.

Keep it specific

Toolbox meetings shouldn’t be the only safety meetings you hold – therefore not everyone needs to be invited. Conducting effective toolbox meetings means running them for relevant, involved employees only, not the team at large. Save the overarching issues for the bigger meetings, and stay true to the topic chosen for this particular talk; keep any tangent subjects you might stray onto in your back pocket for tomorrow’s toolbox!

Keep it short and sweet

A toolbox talk, by definition, isn’t designed to be a full-on briefing. Try to keep this format of safety education to 10 minutes, 15 at the absolute maximum and only if you must – short, sharp and sweet is the name of the game. Holding your meetings in this way will ensure that your staff are engaged from start to finish, and will allow them to draw upon what they’ve learned throughout their day as such.

Encourage collaboration

A sure-fire way to test if the team has been listening is to get them involved! During effective toolbox meetings, there should be an opportunity for you to ask for examples where staff may have witnessed the issue being discussed; have them ask their own questions about the matter at hand. Real-life examples make the subject matter more real, tangible, and as such important.

Get the team involved

Not just yourself or the chief safety officer!

As humans, when we’re given information via multiple different sources, we’re much more likely to retain it. Having different decision makers involved in or even leading each toolbox talk – be it project leaders, site managers or otherwise – will reiterate both its importance and its relevancy. Not to mention being all-round more engaging for those taking part!

It’s the year 2020 and safe to say, for the most part, lecture-style meetings are out. Humans more so than ever require impactful information delivered in an engaging fashion to really take it in – so effective toolbox meetings should be a staple in every manager’s arsenal. The snappier your safety briefings and the more often you hold them, the lower the risk of complacency in the workplace; whatever your management style, that’s something any manufacturing business should aim for.

Whilst staffing and recruitment is what we do most of, consulting with our clients on how to get the best out of their staff comes a close second. We’d love to help you do the same – get in touch with the team today.

Any views or opinions expressed within this blog do not necessarily reflect the official policy of  NLG. Any points made are for general information only, and none should be relied upon as a basis for making any business, legal or other decisions. Neither NLG nor the author can be held responsible for any reliance placed by you on any information or material within this article.

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