Yesterday I did a toolbox talk in the office, the first in quite some time.
The phrase “toolbox talks” was imported from the language of construction site training. A toolbox talk is an informal safety meeting, generally conducted at the job site prior to the commencement of a job or work shift. The talk covers special topics on safety aspects related to the specific job.
We took the idea and started using it as part of our training programme. Two years ago when I was training two new employees simultaneously as well as running the business single handedly (phew!) they were a weekly feature.
The TBT yesterday was a fire safety talk. Our office is well equipped with information and equipment, including fire doors and smoke alarms, but having a safety conscious mindset is so important. You don’t know how you’ll react when faced with the real thing so preparation and practice are vital. Bear in mind you might have two minutes or less to get from a burning building to safety, so dithering idiotically isn’t an option. If you’ve ever been in a fire you will take it seriously. I managed to overheat a chip pan when I was 15. The resulting column of flame was terrifying. I did do the sensible thing (drop damp towel over the top and turn off the heat) but I have never used a deep fat chip frier since. Apparently some people try to carry the whole thing outside …….
We have very structured training programmes I lots of reinforcement activity, but despite this trainees don’t always remember the material. If a topic is regularly discussed in bite sized chunks and then practiced the skill is more likely to be embedded in the trainee’s long term memory and recalled accurately when needed.
With pressure of work, our regular TBTs have become few and far between in recent months. Training has been going on and it’s been fine as far as it goes. It just needs a bit more. I have decided to reintroduce the TBTs because they are a useful way of refreshing memories, not just for the newest team members but for the more senior people too. With two trainees in the office at present, both at different stages of their training programme that regular flow of information and reminders is vital.
There’s another element to TBTs which adds an unexpected benefit. It’s a team activity. We all hunker down with our preferred brew, I leap to the collective Russell feet and chat on for about 30 minutes about the topic in hand, telling stories, firing off questions and we all have a bit of a laugh. The TBTs help me engage with the more junior members of the team and it seems to energise us too.
As a follow on from the fire safety TBT, the team have been asked to read the H&S manual and familiarise themselves with their responsibilities. We are going to have a short H&S quiz later this month to check their understanding of workplace safety. There will be prizes!
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