Construction work by its nature is subject to several hazards like falls, fires, chemical spills, equipment accidents and more. Some of these hazards can be even more pronounced during the winter months when slips, trips, falls, driving accidents and simply working in below-freezing conditions are heightened. Add some winter-themed topics to your toolbox talks this season.
What is a Toolbox Talk?
A toolbox talk is an informal group discussion that focuses on a specific safety issue. As opposed to a project safety kick-off meeting or pre-construction meeting, a toolbox talk isn’t a formal meeting with a broad agenda. More for safety maintenance and specifics rather than a high-level overview, toolbox talks can be held monthly, weekly or even daily. The name “toolbox talk” refers to the idea of a crew gathering around a toolbox for a casual conversation, akin to an office water cooler talk. During winter months, toolbox talks should stress how weather conditions can affect slips, trips and falls, ladder safety, winter driving, working in snow and working around damaged power lines.
Winter Toolbox Talk Topics
Slips, Trips and Falls
Falls are the leading cause of death in construction. In 2020, there were 351 fatal falls to a lower level out of 1,008 construction fatalities according to OSHA. Snow, ice and wind can increase the chances for jobsite slips, trips and falls. Use a toolbox talk to address how to eliminate or mitigate these hazards, including shoveling and using salt or ice melt on walkways.
Ladder and Scaffold Safety
A ladder and scaffold can become extremely slick when covered in frost, ice or snow. These conditions could cause workers to slip off the equipment, falling themselves or dropping equipment and tools onto other workers. Don’t forget frozen or slick ground surfaces create an unstable base for ladders and scaffolding. If you can’t reconsider using a ladder or scaffold in inclement weather, a toolbox talk should address proper ladder positioning and how to ensure the surface is stable and ice free. When conditions can’t be ideal, ask workers not to stand higher than the third rung from the top. Also, advise workers to wear clean, dry, slip-resistant shoes and gloves with grip.
Winter Weather Driving
Driving during a winter storm can be hazardous no matter what the profession. More than 21% of car crashes that occur each year in the US are weather related. Construction workers don’t always have the luxury of simply staying home when dangerous weather is forecasted and must drive both vehicles and equipment. Hold a toolbox talk that helps workers learn the essentials for safe driving in inclement weather, why vehicle inspections are especially critical in the winter months and both the importance of and how to assemble an emergency kit for personal and work vehicles.
Working in Snow
Construction workers understand the challenges of working outdoors. From staying hydrated in the summer to keeping extremities protected in the winter, workers must use tools and techniques for working as comfortably as possible. Hold a toolbox talk that covers safe techniques for shoveling snow, how to walk safely on snow and ice and proper use of snowblowers and other winter equipment. It’s estimated that 3,000 people are treated in emergency rooms each year for snowblower injuries.
Working with Damaged Powerlines
A good ice storm can knock down branches, power lines and collapsed poles, creating unwanted obstacles on job sites. A great winter toolbox talk will cover how to safely remove downed limbs or trees and the hazards surrounding potentially energized lines and electrocution hazards. Downed power lines can electrocute the nearby ground or worker if touched – even if they’re not humming, according to OSHA. Also, cover how snow and ice and impact personal protective equipment (PPE).
Arcoro can help provide the resources needed to pull off a successful toolbox talk. Arcoro’s partners, TrainingABC and ClickSafety offer several courses that address these topics. TrainingABC offers OSHA compliance training videos that cover slip, trips and falls, ladder safety and many more. ClickSafety offers several training courses including winter weather hazard toolbox talks. The courses are available via Arcoro’s Learning Management System or LMS. ClickSafety offers several training courses including winter weather hazard toolbox talks. The courses are available via Arcoro’s Learning Management System or LMS. And SkillSignal, Arcoro’s safety partner, offers free sample toolbox talks and an in-the-field platform that helps manage jobsite risks.
Contact a member of our team to learn how to take advantage of these essential safety and training tools.