June 11, 2018 - Holly Foxworth

How to Deliver the Perfect Toolbox Talk

Are you delivering your toolbox talks with an impact, or is your tone causing them to tune out? To encourage your employees to actively listen and respond to safety measures, you’ve got to bring out a new role in your leadership position: that of motivational speaker! Here’s how to deliver the perfect toolbox talk so they’ll respond, react and work as their ‘safest selves’ every single day.

It’s In the Timing

Last week two celebrities (one world famous chef, one famous designer) committed suicide. Isn’t this the perfect time to have a toolbox talk on the importance of mental health? You bet it is.

You can do the same with any topic:

Drilling safety

Back injury


Fire hazards

Electrical hazards

Disease prevention

Ladder Safety


If an employee has been recently injured, use their story to motivate others in the workplace to stay safe. The more relevant the topic, the greater engagement you’ll have.

Get Creative With Toolbox Topics 

Getting your employees to stay safe is all about engagement. To enhance their engagement, you’ve got to play into the topics that make sense to them. Think of toolbox talks as ‘employee targeting’ and stick to those topics that will bring value to their job, asap!

Here are some topics you can use for your next talk:

Seasonal issues. During the winter months, design talks around winter driving tips, danger working near ice and snow, or hypothermia prevention. During the summer season, design your toolbox talks around fireworks safety, heat stress or how to stay properly hydrated while working outdoors.

Common injuries. Common injuries like back, neck, knee or ankle falls can be prevented when proper measures are taken. Offer valuable (even life-saving!) advice for simple movement techniques your workers can implement to avoid injury.

Industry-relevant topics. Design your talks so they are short and to-the-point, and applicable to your employees. If you’re in the construction field, choose forklift and other construction equipment topics. If your employees have to lift heavy supplies daily, choose a proper lifting/ergonomics topic.

Get creative and relevant to keep your workers healthy, fit and happy!

Get Personal

If you miss the mark with your talk, you’ll lose your audience.

The best way to grab their attention?

By getting personal.

Start your talk with a personal story of when you were injured because you failed to practice safety as you should. Or, ask an employee who has been injured to come up and tell the group his/her story.

Nothing creates a shock-and-awe to grab worker’s attention than a personal story of their peers. Remember, there’s power in the impact: if it can happen to someone they work with, it can happen to them.

Get Interactive

Do you regularly give talks on how to stay safe and wonder why your employees look like a deer caught in headlights? If you aren’t hooking their interest with engagement, they’ll think about their weekend plans instead of focusing on you.

Get interactive to keep their attention.

Instead of starting your talk with, “Trips and falls are dangerous because…etc., etc., etc…” teach your employees how to scan their work area for possible obstructions that lead to slip and falls.  Show them in a live demonstration by asking for assistance from 1, 2, or 3 workers.

Ask them questions throughout your talk, like: “Who can guess what the number one cause of slip and falls is (and I’ll give you a hint, it’s not a slippery surface.”)

Quiz them as a group: “What’s the first thing you should do when you get a chemical burn?” and offer a small prize for whoever answers correctly.

Promote greater interaction and teamwork by ending the talk with a pow-wow: Divide them in small groups where they get to brainstorm a new and improved way to stay safe in their fast-paced environment and share with everyone.

Watch Your Tone

Your tone will communicate one of two things: you’re bored and unengaged yourself (which will make them detach from the conversation too), or you’re a safety expert. The more of an expert you sound, the more your employees will perk up—because you are providing something of value!

Speak with enthusiasm.

As you talk, make sure you are moving around the office so you can observe who is raising their hand and participating, and who is trying to blend into the background. Watch your worker’s body language, and that will help clue you into how to engage your group at large.

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Holly is an ER nurse by trade, but loves content marketing.  She was born outside the box and believes everything is better with “sprinkles and sparkles”.  She is passionate about impacting lives and uses marketing as her platform for sharing practical solutions to address real life occupational health challenges.

Find out more about our Injury Case Management services or our Occupational Health Programs.

Posted in Employee Health Management, Health Guidelines, Incident Case Management, Injury Case Management, Occupational Health Management, Occupational Health Programs, Workplace Safety