Toolbox Talks for August: Monthly Toolbox Talks

Construction workers are standing on scaffodling at sunset

If you ask me, August is the the most challenging month for tailgate meetings. So what should you do for toolbox talks for August? I’ve got a few ideas for you.

The most common and obvious hazard is the temperature, but if your workers are affected by heat stress then you’ve already been talking about it for months. So below I’ve outlined a few topics that EHS people have told me they think is important to discuss in August and/or that I think could be issues this month.

But first, remember that you should constantly deliver toolbox talks on recurring workplace safety issues. If your workers are constantly driving in a company vehicle then you should hold regular safety meetings on driving, regardless of what month it is.

But if you’ve covered all the essentials and still need to come up with more toolbox topics, here are a few options for you.

Working at Height (especially Lifts and Scaffolding)

If your employees have to work at heights, dedicate at least on toolbox talk in August to the danger of falls. A lot can go wrong when workers are elevated off the ground and safety talks are a good way to remind them of safety requirements.

Working at heights is such a broad topic that you should break it down into smaller, more specific issues. If your employees work at height, then ideally you should be discussing the issue throughout the year.

One of the top OSHA violations is scaffolding. So in your toolbox talks for August, I suggest you focus on the surface that people are working on. This generally means discussing safety issues regarding scaffolding, aerial lifts and other similar equipment.

When it comes to scaffolding, consider talks about:

  • spotting problems with scaffolding
  • how to safely climb up/down scaffolding
  • proper use of PPE to prevent falls
  • issues that could increase risk of falls, such as weather conditions or human factors
  • the risk of working near power lines or other electrical issues

Similar issues should be covered for various lifts, including:

  • how to properly operate lifts
  • the use of fall restraints, arrests and other PPE
  • external conditions like high winds that could cause a problem
  • the dangers of coming into contact with electrical wires and other hazards

Keep in mind that your employees have heard all the general safety guidelines before. So get specific in your August toolbox talks. It’s better to really reinforce one issue than it is to have a whole bunch of topics get forgotten an hour after the safety talk.

Heat Stress

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that heat stress is a good toolbox topic this month. But even though it’s an obvious topic for toolbox talks for August, a lot of folks still don’t deal with the issue as well as they could.

Depending on your region and industry, you’ll likely have been dealing with heat-related safety problems for several months now. This means that by August, your toolbox talks on heat stress will likely start getting repetitive.

By now, everyone’s heard about the importance of sunscreen. And everyone should know about the dangers of heat stress and how to spot warning signs that they (or someone else) is starting to overheat.

Workers may also start becoming complacent about heat illness at a time when major heat waves are still possible. So start mixing it up a bit in your toolbox talks for August.

Quiz workers on heat stress, which will force to them to think again about the symptoms and outcomes of heat exhaustion and other problems. Ask them to teach you about how to react if someone is suffering from heat stress. And start talking about other problems caused or exacerbated by high temperatures.

Home Improvement

Home renovations are common in the summer, especially at the beginning and end. This means that May and August have the highest likelihoods of people getting injured during DIY home improvements.

Sure, renovation-related injuries don’t happen at work. But safety professionals should discuss home improvements in August toolbox talks anyway. The first reason is that it’s just the right thing to do. Our job is to prevent injuries, and we should try to do that regardless of where those injuries happen.

The second reason is that it is a golden opportunity to talk about workplace safety issues without people realizing it.

Let’s say that you’re really concerned with workplace PPE compliance. You’re so concerned that you talk about it all the time, and workers are starting to tune you out.

But if you start discussing at-home safety, including how important it is to wear PPE when doing home improvements, then you can accomplish several goals. You’ll be reinforcing your PPE messaging. You’ll stop people from getting hurt at home. And if people wear their PPE at home, they’ll be more likely to do so at work.

Everybody wins. And if you’re not in the habit of talking about off-the-job safety then this is a great way to mix things up in toolbox talks for August.

Housekeeping

Attention to detail can start to slip in the dog days of summer. And if that happens, housekeeping is going to suffer.

In August, toolbox talks should cover any specific housekeeping issues you have. And if your employees appear to be as diligent as usual then get proactive by talking about potential housekeeping slip-ups.

If you’re not sure how to properly address housekeeping in toolbox talks, here are a few ideas:

  • present a few scenarios or real-life stories about incidents caused by poor housekeeping
  • start a discussion on the importance of housekeeping
  • quiz workers what the safety issues are with bad housekeeping
  • ask workers what housekeeping violations are most and/or least likely to occur in the workplace
  • give workers a pep talk on their ability to adhere to housekeeping standards

Hopefully, this will give you several ways to discuss housekeeping in your August toolbox talks.

A Note of Caution on Toolbox Talks for August

When it comes to these topics, there aren’t too many good free toolbox talks available on the Internet. You can find a few talks that cover basic issues, but if you have persistent trouble with these topics then you need more than the free stuff.

That’s because there’s a major issue that affects every single toolbox talk in Augustcomplacency. In this month more than in any other, people are likely to tune out regular safety messages.

You need to do something from a different angle for August safety meetings. Or at least something that’s going to be engaging. If you want to see what I mean, check out a few of my sample toolbox talks.

That will give you a good example of what I mean when I say that safety talks this month need to be good at employee engagement. Because when you deliver toolbox talks for August, you want to make sure that you focus on starting a safety discussion that gets workers thinking and participating.

 

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