The significance of safety toolbox talks

Nico Pienaar, director of ASPASA.
Nico Pienaar, director of ASPASA.

Nico Pienaar, director of Aspasa.

Every worker in the mining industry has the right to safety and should be continuously trained to identify hazards and modify behaviour in order to prevent injury.

One of the most effective ways of fulfilling this requirement is the introduction of Safety Toolbox Talks in which hazards are identified, accidents analysed and preventative measures continuously discussed in order to reinforce a culture of safety in the workplace.

But, knowing what to discuss is not always that easy and as a result, Aspasa has compiled a step by step approach to implementing toolbox talks with numerous different topics identified, training material prepared and tests compiled and ready to use. There is even a poster for each topic which can be displayed on a wall to continue reinforcing the specific message.

Safety Tool Box Talks are to educate and train employees in health and safety matters at operations. They should be held once a week, at the beginning of a shift or right after a tea break or after lunch and should be limited to approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

On small sites it may be possible to have all employees at the meeting, while large sites may need to split up into smaller groups under their section foreman. An interpreter should be present when presenting Safety Tool Box Talks to workers and sub-contractors must also hold their own Safety Tool Box Talks or participate in those of the main contractor.

Remember, the topics covered should be designed to increase awareness of specific construction and site work hazards that may cause injury to people or damage equipment. The promotion of health and safety is not only the responsibility of the safety officer in an organisation, but is in fact, one of the prime functions of the first-line supervisor or foreman as they have the closest interface with the workers who has to be influenced and convinced to work and act safely.

The topics covered by the Aspasa worksheets are a good place to start and have been compiled to assist the supervisor to communicate with the workers in a programme-based and structured manner. We hope that the talks will make it easier for them to get the message across. Interaction is a vital part of these talks. At the end of each discussion an easy short question section or specific related task is proposed. The contents of each talk serves as a guide. The leader must make the contents compatible to his site and circumstances. The talks are arranged into weekly subjects and may be selected for suitability at the time of use. A check-sheet at the end will assist in keeping track of which subjects have been used and when. Additional subjects will be added to the collection in due course and the author will welcome any contributions in this respect.

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