Toolbox talk meaning
What is a toolbox talk? A toolbox talk, safety moment, tailgate meeting or safety briefing are all synonyms for the same thing - an informal job safety meeting that typically takes place in-person, on-site ahead of the commencement of a day’s work.
They can be anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes in length and are usually carried out at the start of a shift, serving as a reminder to employees about occupational health and safety risks and best practice to bear in mind to avoid them.
Why are toolbox talks important?
It’s estimated that non-fatal workplace injuries cost employers more than $1 billion per week. Ensuring your workforce are up to date, refreshed on and frequently reminded of workplace safety hazards related to their role is a surefire way to decrease likelihood of injury.
Toolbox talks serve as a quick refresher to your team on Health & Safety. Refreshers are important - knowledge is committed to long-term memory when it is repeated at intervals. This is known as the ‘spacing effect’.
Beyond the financial incentive, there’s also a legal motivation behind delivering toolbox talks. While they don’t explicitly outline how, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states “employers shall instruct each employee in recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions''.
And toolbox talks just happen to be an established method of making your employees aware of all “regulations applicable to [their] work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure that can result in illness or injury”.
However, the fact they exist as a method of reducing injury does not mean they are delivered in the most effective way, or can’t be improved on.
Why in-person toolbox talks are putting your company at a disadvantage
If you’re reading this, you likely know what a toolbox talk is, and why they are important. You’d probably also agree - while passing paper around at 6am and making sure it's appropriately stored in filing cabinets afterwards - that the current way toolbox talks are carried out leaves something to be desired.
There are more than a few problems with the existing process - making sure everyone is in one place at the same time, an inability to account for who is or isn’t actively listening, excessive time spent printing, collecting and filing paperwork, and a lack of consistency in training standards between staff members.
All of this turns this essential learning moment into an inefficient, inconvenient and inadequate box-checking process.
But what if there was a way to standardize the process, take time off your hands and inject fun into it for employees? To be able to easily vouch for individuals’ engagement with the material, decrease time spent delivering the talks, and spare your company the associated costs, from printing to lost productivity?
4 reasons to digitize your toolbox talks
1. Save time and maximize workforce productivity
Using a remote training tool that leverages microlearning - learning delivered in brief, bite-sized bursts - can shave days off time spent training.
Short-form learning better suits the modern, time-starved, employee. The modern learner shares three main traits - a shortened attention span, little time (employees report having only 4 minutes daily to dedicate to learning) and wanting their training to meet them where they are, at the moment they need it, i.e. ‘on-demand’ and just-in-time. 57% expect to receive training in this manner.
The ideal length of a microlearning lesson is just 2-5 minutes - half the time a conventional toolbox talk takes. Additionally, having a toolbox talk available via a mobile app means that the talk can be accessed from wherever the recipient is, whenever they need to access it.
Employees can flexibly complete the lesson in their own vehicle before departing, for example. As no one - employees or managers - is required to travel to or congregate in a designated location, the time and cost incurred by doing so is eliminated and employees can begin working faster.
The accessibility and shorter nature of mobile-based microlearning doesn’t just free up a driver’s time, but a manager’s time too.
When following an in-person, paper-reliant method, managers are required to print out relevant information or sign-in sheets, travel to the worksite, manually distribute the printed collateral, ensure each attendee has signed it, then, once back at the office, scan this documentation to a computer and spend time filing it (physically or digitally).
This is a time consuming, multi-staged process that doesn’t lend itself to a scalable safety culture. Delivering vital Health & Safety information regularly needn’t be so demanding and productivity-hindering.
With remote, digitally administered training, managers cut out every step detailed above, bar the one-time activity of putting the information into a lesson. After this initial effort to compile material is made, the lesson exists forever, and can be sent out as many times as needed, at the click of a button.
2. Lower cost
There are a few reasons why taking your toolbox talks online could help reduce cost.
Digital training is by nature paperless, which wipes out printing costs. You may scoff at the notion of printing being a significant expense, but it can be quietly costly and, depending on the frequency and scale of printing, can amount to up to 3% of a company’s annual revenue. So if your annual revenue was $10 million, printing alone would make a $300,000 dent.
Human labor is another cost lost incurred, but when an app does the hard work, an individual no longer has to. In switching to digital from in-person training for their workforce, IBM saved $579 million in the first two years.
If your training instructor is externally sourced, you can eliminate that labor cost from your outgoings entirely. If it is an existing manager that administers your toolbox talks or compliance training, then their time is simply freed up to be spent in a more productive manner.
The final way in which utilizing a safety meeting software can significantly lower cost to your company is simply by reducing the number of workplace incidents that occur over time. As mentioned - at present, non-fatal workplace injuries eat a $1 billion sized hole into US companies every week.
3. Analytics and data ensure accountability
If an employee was injured, and your company needed to provide evidence of relevant safety training, would you easily be able to access this information? Could you quickly find out who received and completed which lesson?
An essential pillar of compliance training of any form, even an ‘informal’ toolbox talk, is employee attendance and being able to account for it. It’s in performance and participation tracking where a remote training tool really stands apart from conventional training.
To avoid legal liability, a company should feel confident that employee participation is recorded. Easy access to this record is the icing on the cake. With digitized training systems and workflows as in a mobile training software, you are able to access powerful analytics that drill down to the very fine details.
Assessments in eduMe
You can see that employee y started course x on 01/04/21, but didn’t complete it. You can also see that the same employee only scored 20% in the follow-up quiz. At the end of a course, add an Assessments with a set minimum score. These can act as a barrier to service - e.g. until an employee achieves 100% on an Assessment on forklift fatalities, they are barred from operating one.
In-person, you might get a signature that you later may be able to access for proof in the event of legal action, but you will never be able to know whether an individual is listening to, absorbing, or retaining the information you are telling them.
When you have digital access to in-depth data records, you can state with confidence that an employee paid attention during their digital ladder safety toolbox talk, as they started and completed the course on the same day, then scored 100% when assessed.
4. Greater engagement
Analytics enable you to easily identify who has completed how much of which piece of training with pinpoint precision, meaning that if you are called on to provide evidence in relation to a workplace injury, it is available at your fingertips.
But in an ideal world, there would be no injuries in the first place, meaning no subsequent need to substantiate evidence that covers your company’s back.
Fortunately, a remote training tool can also help with reducing injuries from occurring at all, rather than just mitigating your liability in the event that injury occurs - microlearning raises engagement by 50%, and knowledge retention by 20%. How does it do this?
Through a whole host of features designed expressly to promote engagement in learners. From being able to choose the way your information is presented - e.g. in a slideshow format that mimics apps your employees’ know, use and love out of hours - to use of short videos, gamification, illustrative images, GIFs and quizzes.
Gamification in eduMe
Video is a particularly engaging medium - employees are 95% more likely to retain information presented via video than text. This is because of the way it activates the brain - more neural pathways are fired up, and quicker (in 250 milliseconds, to be exact!).
Ultimately, the ways in which you can present information digitally are infinitely more diverse than in in-person or instructor-led training, informally delivered or otherwise.
This, in addition to scalability of online training, reduced cost, increased productivity and higher engagement make digital toolbox talks - and, compliance training more generally - a no-brainer for a business that wants to stay ahead of the curve.
With a remote training tool like eduMe, active participation is required. It also removes social pressure - employees engage with the material 1-on-1, as opposed to in a group setting, where they may shy away from participation.
After implementing our product, a logistics company that handles the supply chain, outbound logistics and warehousing for dozens of companies including the world’s best known fast food companies, increased employee engagement with training by 200%. They also reduced workplace injuries by 26%.
Looking to achieve such results for your own company? Just pop your details in below for a quick, no strings attached tour of our remote training tool, used by leading brands across industries worldwide. 👇