Article #188 Managing and Documenting Safety Toolbox Talks on Construction Projects

Toolbox Talks are quick and easy informal training conducted to enhance the safety requirements on construction projects. Toolbox Talks cover a wide range of topics, from workplace electrical safety to lifting basics. Toolbox Talks also help to create an environment to discuss task-specific or timely safety communications, identify problems or highlight specific safety concerns/risks.

A Toolbox Talk is an informal group discussion among employees of an individual department that focuses on a particular safety issue. They are usually 15 minutes long that will be conducted on monthly basis held in a comfortable location at the beginning of a shift or after the lunch break. Although anyone can conduct a Toolbox Talk, however, it is recommended to select individuals who have expertise on the given topic.

Toolbox Talks can be used for post-accident communications, re-enforcement of safe work practice, pre-task planning, and talking points for hands-on training or tabletop exercises. Predefined pamphlets that will summarize the content of the toolbox talk will be shared with the participants. Those can be pamphlets prepared by the organization itself or readily available by safety organizations like those Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) quick cards.

Organizations that are using Project Management Information Systems (PMIS)like PMWeb to manage, monitor, evaluate and report the different health, safety, and environment (HSE) processes can also use the same platform to manage toolbox talks. This will provide the organization with a single version of the truth platform to manage and report on the performance of their HSE management plan.

To start with, the PMWeb document management repository will be used to create a shared folder for which all pamphlets created for the toolbox talk will be uploaded and stored. The shared folder will be used to provide access to all projects to those pamphlets. If needed, subfolders can be created to group and organize those pamphlets to ease locating the needed topic.

To ensure that toolbox talks are an integral part of each project as well as made participants of those talks aware of when those meetings will take place, the PMWeb meeting calendar module will be used to schedule the toolbox talk meetings as well as other scheduled project meetings.

The details of those toolbox meetings including the list of project team members who have attended the meeting as well as the details of all comments made during the meeting will be captured using the PMWeb meeting minutes module. If there were any actions decided during the toolbox talk, a meeting business item will be added to capture the details of the action and the individual or individuals responsible for those actions. Those actions could be task-specific or timely safety communications, identify problems or highlight specific safety concerns/risks.

The meeting minute will state the topic of the next toolbox talk and who will be the individual giving the talk. It is also recommended to use the “Create Next” option to confirm the next toolbox talk meeting date, time, and location as well as create the agenda for the next toolbox talk.

In addition, the relevant safety pamphlet and other documents shared during the toolbox talk will be attached to the meeting minute. This will enable those who have attended the toolbox talk and those who could not attend to have details of what was discussed and access the relevant pamphlet. It is also possible to video record the toolbox talk and attaches it to the meeting minute.

About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with more than 35-year service record providing project management and controls services to over 100 projects with a total value of over US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education, and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication, and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.

Bassam is a frequent speaker on topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 35 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 250 articles on project management and information systems featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), an Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE), and a Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Master’s in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – from Kuwait University, Kuwait, and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and London Business School, London, UK.


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