Communicating the safety message

Safety talks, also known as ‘Team Talks’ or ‘Toolbox Talks’ are an effective way to communicate safety messages.

Whether you are a large organisation or a small business, talking about safety is a great way to let your workers know that you take safety seriously.  Talking about safety can be topical such as manual handling, electrical safety or hazardous chemicals in the workplace, or can be specific such as incident reporting, safety alerts, or a change in the workplace or legislation.

Prepare for the talk 

Safety talks don’t have to take a lot of time but the key to success is to prepare!!  Before you conduct your safety talks determine your aim for each session – what do you want the group to take away with them in terms of learning, what behaviour do you expect to change, what actions do you want the group to take etc.   Research the topic until you have the required knowledge or content. Work out how long you want the talk to go for, who is the intended audience, place, date, time, records to be kept etc.

Plan the talk in stages 

Write down key points you want to be covered and understood by participants. Structure information into stages – Introduction / Content / Summary and Close. Keep it simple – too much information often clouds effective learning.  Think of relevant questions, answers or responses that would best present the information and draw out understanding during the safety talk. Write these down as they act as a checklist.  Summarise key points. We tend to recall the first and last points more easily. Create an appropriate closing statement or “a punch line” to send your group away with a clear understanding of the session in their minds.  Write it down so you don’t forget it.

Before the talk

Before you present your safety talk, it’s important to review the content and check you can present the safety talk in the time available.  Make sure that any training aids you may want to use are available. Ensure you have a thorough knowledge of the information. A rehearsal will give you confidence.  Maybe talk it through with a colleague.

Tips for presenting

How can you ensure the group will remember what you say? Keep information simple. Repeat important points for emphasis and seek their active participation and interaction. Test their knowledge – ask key questions directly to the group throughout the session. Use a simple question sheet to be filled out and “marked” at the end. Conduct a practical test to see if they understand the topic. For example, after you have given a safety talk on “Manual Handling” get them to show you.

At the conclusion of your safety talk make sure you record the content and get sign off by all attendees as this is very important from a legal perspective and demonstrates ‘due diligence’.

For further information please contact Safety Services Australia  on 02 9836 3100 or