Making “tool box talks” relevant (and keeping people safe)

In many industries one essential form of communication is the “tool box talk”.  Originating from a discussion held at the point of work, i.e. the ‘tool box’, it has now transformed into a regular methodology for getting pertinent and relevant messages across wherever and whenever they are needed.  I have been reminded of this by an e-mail this morning from our Facilities Manager, Glen Cavanagh at the Consulting office in Billingham.  We have had various issues relating to people entering the building and making off with some goodies like toner cartridges, etc., and this tends to happen when the doors and windows get left open or individuals “tail gate” someone entering the building.  So Glen’s note this morning was letting everyone know that with the warmer, sunnier days, it is tempting to leave the doors open a little longer to allow fresh air into the building and to leave the windows open at night (by mistake) but it also allows thieves and villains in too.  Good on you Glen for a serious and timely “tool box talk”.

There is an even more serious side to this; while working in South Africa a man was killed when hit by lightening.  The prevailing mood was one of “we couldn’t have avoided that, that was a ‘pure accident'” to which I replied “of course it was preventable as all accidents are!”  My reasoning was that the seasons in South Africa are hugely predictable, often down to the hour of the day when these electric storms occur, and a “tool box talk” about the dangers of climbing reactors stacks in this kind of weather may well have prevented this death.

How do you use tool box talks in your environment?  In our own small team we have a weekly telephone conference and this is an ideal opportunity for us to give each other tool box talks.  It doesn’t have to be just “top down” but anyone can share a story or give a reminder on any subject; safety, business or otherwise.

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About the author

Dave Dyer

Dave Dyer is a principal consultant within the Operations Improvement team in ABB Consulting. His speciality is in bringing sustainable change and operational benefits to an organisation through the engagement of its people. He hopes to share good ideas and good practice, to inform and to learn.
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