CoatingsPro Magazine

NOV 2017

CoatingsPro offers an in-depth look at coatings based on case studies, successful business operation, new products, industry news, and the safe and profitable use of coatings and equipment.

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22 NOVEMBER 2017 COATINGSPROMAG.COM Safety Watch T oolbox talks. Safety start- ups. Tailgate meetings. W hatever you call them, short discussions with workers are a great way to: • promote safe working practices; • fight complacency; • solidify and sustain lessons from training; • increase employee engagement; and • provide opportunities for feedback. Want to deliver more captivating and effective toolbox talks? en this is for you. From topic tips to keeping your audience engaged, you'll learn to take your toolbox talks from bland to grand. With these 15 tips, your safety meetings will be more effective than ever. 1. Set a Goal If you only have 5 minutes to prepare for a toolbox talk, spend it asking yourself one question: W hat do you hope to accomplish with the talk? Identifying a single clear goal will make for a more direct safety meeting. And goal-setting has been proven to boost the effectiveness of almost any activity. Are you trying to ensure compliance? Address a recurring issue? Raise awareness? Pick one, and then build a safety meeting that zeroes in on your biggest need. A good rule is that you should be able to describe in a single sentence what you want the talk to accomplish. If you can't, then you've still got work to do. 2. Know Your Audience You also need to know your audience and how the topic of a toolbox talk relates to them. Take your corporate agenda items and reposition them in a way that will have meaning and benefits to your audience. Don't tell workers they need to comply with rules to avoid Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines — they won't really care about that. Try giving them an example they can relate to. You could tell a story about how someone took a shortcut because they were in a rush, and it cost them dearly — and that's why it's important to follow the rules all the time. Help them draw the connection between the topic at hand and their own personal safety. Ask, don't assume you know what matters to your employees. Ask one-on- one questions or as a group where they can put up their hands. Find out what motivates them to come to work. Is it to provide for their family? Or the satis- faction of a job well done? Knowing what they care about will help you engage them directly with safety. 3. Anticipate Problems Lay the groundwork for how you' ll deal with possible issues that may arise. ink about: • What questions will people likely have? • How will you answer them, and what is your plan B if the toolbox talk gets derailed? • Is there a difficult person who could try to circumvent your message during or after the talk? Sometimes letting workers know that you can discuss their question personally after the session will be enough to let you continue with your discussion with the group. Look at your audience as you're delivering the talk. Are they engaged? Have they gone cold, or did you get their attention with anything you said? Pay attention to these cues and adjust your sessions accordingly. If you can't react on the spot, then keep them in mind when planning your next safety talk. 4. Practice and Then Practice More Most advice on improving toolbox talks is to develop better material, leverage management support, or spend more money. But what if you don't have more money or support? Focus on what you can control: yourself. W hen it's time to present a toolbox talk or other critical communication, a lack of presentation skills could seriously hinder effectiveness and results. Skilled speakers become great through preparation and practice — neither of which require money or support. Deliver better toolbox talks by trying the following: • read the talk ahead of time to famil- iarize yourself with the material; • practice reading out loud to increase your comfort level and identify any possible trouble spots; • record yourself reading to ensure you're speaking in a confident and natural tone; • change the words you use so that the toolbox talk doesn't sound dry or clinical; • prepare a personal story or anecdote to make the talk more authentic and relatable. Research shows that being prepared for a presentation improves the odds of success. Practice is only one aspect of preparation. Setting goals, By Andrew Faulkner, Communications and Content Manager at SafeStart 15 Tips to Improve Your Toolbox Talks

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