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Tool Box Talk - Foremost Topics

Tool  Box Talk - Foremost Topics

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Toolbox Talks cannot serve as a substitute for an employee's formal safety training, they do serve as a great way to address safety issues and concerns that may be plaguing your workplace right now.

The topics listed below are not meant to be comprehensive tool box discussions, instead they are provided as a reminder of areas you should be covering. 



Let's start with simple ways to keep employees safe; first and foremost is proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). For example, no employees should wear hard hats backwards, use heavily scratched face shields, or use improper hearing protection. These are all simple fixes, but the fact that they have to be addressed may be a symptom of a much larger problem"a lack of safety culture.


To avoid any workers getting hurt via electric shock, it is very important for the worker to de-energize electrical circuits before doing any kind of work with electricity. All employees working with electricity should use an AC voltage tester / Multimeter to verify that the electrical power is off before they start working.  It is also imperative that employees working with electricity wear proper PPE and use rubber insulating gloves to further protect themselves. 


Hazard communication is meant to limit the amount of chemical-related illnesses and injuries that occur in a workplace by displaying specific information that help workers identify and evaluate the severity of the chemicals around them. To keep everyone safer, employers should have all containers labeled and have multiple copies of relevant Safety Data Sheet (SDS) strategically placed around the work area. Employers should also have first aid kits and emergency contact information readily available and easily accessible in case of an emergency. It is also imperative employees have the right PPE, including gloves and respirators. 


Injuries sustained from ergonomic stress, such as sprains, can be acute. However, repetitive stress injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, can also develop over time. In order to avoid injuries related to ergonomic stress, all workers should properly stretch to avoid injuries,  especially as the day goes on. Workers should also make attempts to keep pressure off their shoulders, keep their arms and neck relaxed and keep wrists unbent and relaxed as well. To further avoid injury, workers can invest in back braces to support their lumbar along with wrist rests for keyboards.


In order to prevent accidents, injuries, and potential death, all workspaces must be equipped with working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. You should make sure all fire extinguishers are appropriate for your workplace and have not past their expiration date. It is important all workers know: 

  • Where the fire extinguishers are located
  • How to use fire extinguishers 
  • Emergency evacuation skills


Inhaling silica is extraordinarily dangerous for workers as it can lead to fatal illnesses, like silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and has even been linked to lung cancer. Some of the best ways to prevent silicosis are dust suppression, putting up barriers, and PPE, such as face masks and respirators. Workers should use vacuums and water to reduce the amount of the dust that becomes airborne. Silicosis can also be prevented by not eating, drinking, or smoking near areas with silica dust. 


Housekeeping may not seem important to safety, but having a clean, well-organized station greatly reduces needless worker injury. Workers should keep floors clear, clean, and dry at all times. Make sure all tripping hazards are removed to ensure further safety. Additionally, workspace should have separate, labeled containers for different kinds of waste like trash, oily rags, dry rags, and flammable objects. It is essential you keep clutter free from: 

  • Openings
  • Emergency exits
  • Roof edges
  • Excavations
  • Trenches 


Heat stress occurs when the body can no longer cool itself down with sweat, which can be dangerous as heat stress can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion.  

             Heat Exhaustion Symptoms: 

  • Headache, dizziness, lightheartedness, fainting 
  • Weakness and moist skin 
  • Confusion
  • Nausea, vomiting

              Heat Stroke Symptoms: 

  • Dry, hot skin with no sweating 
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness 
  • Seizures/ convulsions

             To prevent against heat stress, you should: 

  • Know the signs of heat related illness 
  • Block out sun or other heat sources as much as possible
  • Use cooling units as much as possible in high heat
  • Hydrate yourself every 15 minutes to help cool your body down
  • Wear clothes and PPE appropriate to the weather 
  • Wear sunscreen 


In an effort to save lives, workers should wear highly visible colors along with the proper PPE for their job. Workers should be very aware of their surroundings and should use traffic control devises like signs, warning signals, and barriers/ barricades while working. Workers are also encouraged to stay out of areas where walking is prohibited. 


Stress in the workplace is an ever-growing problem. Stress at work can lead to mental breakdowns and workers cutting corners to meet deadlines, which can have disastrous effects. To reduce workplace stress workers should: 

  • Ask for help
  • Try relaxation techniques
  • Take control of the situation
  • Talk to someone
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take care of yourself

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