Tool Box Talks provide opportunity to consult, communicate and cooperate with workers.

Tool Box Talks are a great way to engage with workers about whats happening at the ‘coal face’.

Tool Box Talks


What is a Tool Box Talk ?

A Tool Box Talk appears to have originated from around the 1940’s and points to a short meeting taking place in the workers environment where the speaker would stand on a tool box.

It could also date back earlier to times when machinests would train apprentices in the use of their tools in their tool box.  Research would suggest that it certainly is not a recently developed term.

There are other names given to similar processes such as tailgate meetings (meeting at the back of a utes tailgate), safety time-outs and crew briefings. Each industry tends to have their own names for the Tool Box however each have some foundational similarities such as:


  • They are regular either, daily, weekly or monthly meeting;
  • The meetings are short, usually no greater than 10 minutes;
  • They are informal and not complicated;
  • They tend to be run with small groups;
  • Are conducted at an emplyees usual workplace and not in a formal board room or corporate setting that is unfamiliar with workers;
  • It is used for an exchange of information, typically safety information between management/supervisor and the workers on the ‘coal face’.

Some tips to help you out.

  • Don’t try and run a tool box with too many workers, it gets hard. Do two sessions if that’s easier;
  • Preparation is critical to know what to discuss;
  • Carefully think out what you want to say – this helps you to be confident;
  • Be ENCOURAGING and POSITIVE, this is not a forum to air your dirty laundry and grievances;
  • Workers won’t remember a lot of detail – Highlight the important points;
  • Remember people talk faster than they hear, so don’t speak fast;
  • 85% of all communication is non-verbal -watch your body language;
  • Position yourself so you can see everyone and they can see you;
  • Maintain good eye contact at all times;
  • Use notes to remember things;
  • Remember you called the meeting because it’s important to everyone on site;
  • Ask open questions and /or ask individuals what they think about an item;
  • Don’t get defensive when people ask the hard questions or seem to be criticising the site or company;
  • Don’t get sucked into arguments in the meeting in front of others, arrange to meet the individual after the meeting to discuss grievances;
  • Put a time to the meeting such as  – no longer than 10 min;

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