Providing training and developing people's understanding of health and safety is vital in the construction industry as there are a variety of high level hazards. Your company should do this primarily through formal training, such as hands-on sessions on specific workplace equipment and hazards, along with additional awareness training where required, such as online health and safety courses.
However, supplementing formal training with regular speaking engagements is incredibly effective in cementing employee knowledge and fostering a strong safety culture.
This article explains what pre-work meetings are and why they are beneficial for raising awareness about health and safety in your workplace. It includes some examples of important topics to cover in the building requirement lectures, as well as some tips for maximizing the effectiveness of each session.
What are safety meetings?
Pre-work meetings are short presentations or discussions with a group of workers on a specific health and safety issue. They often serve to refresh people's knowledge and then start their working day safely.
take this proactive and frequent actionReinforcing safety information has proven effective in improving health and safety in the workplace. actually onePost 2017found that companies that held Toolbox talks daily saw a 64 percent reduction in overall incident rates, and those who held them weekly saw a 20 percent reduction compared to those who held them only monthly.
As previously mentioned, pre-work meetings are useful for increasing people's knowledge of health and safety and helping to build a culture of safety in the workplace. They are effective because they actively engage workers with information in small amounts, and ideally frequently, which encourages knowledge retention.
Please note that pre-job meetings are not a substitute for formal on-site compliance training and briefings, but since workers typically receive them only once a year, or less frequently in some cases, pre-work meetings are an excellent complement between formal training to consolidate knowledge.
All this together can help to comply with the CDM (Building (Design and Management) Regulations 2015) regulations – see relevant extract below – and most importantly, to ensure the health and safety of people.
A contractor must provide adequate supervision, instruction and information to any worker under its control to enable construction work to be carried out, as far as practicable, without risk to health and safety. The information provided includes […] health and safety risk information.
– CDM Regulation, Obligations of Contractors, Section 15, Regulation 8
How are preliminary meetings held on construction sites?
The following points provide orientation and tips on how to conduct work preparation discussions on construction sites effectively.
- Older or experienced team members typically lead pre-work meetingson construction sites, as a supervisor or team leader, with a small group of workers (usually around 10 people). Conducting it in a small group ensures that participants have the opportunity to ask questions in the time available.
- Using presentations, videos or PDFs is helpful to convey the informationin a clear and engaging way for workers. You can also use handouts if you have additional information and don't want the session to be too long. Alternatively, you can save the information for a safety interview at another time.
- Ideally, pre-work meetings should take place at the beginning of the working day.This brings safety considerations to the forefront of everyone's mind when going to work.
- They should be run frequently, e.g. B. once a week or if possible daily.This will maximize your effectiveness and help create a strong safety culture.
- Normally they should last about 10 to 15 minutes,but it can also be up to 30 minutes. The goal is to keep it short and concise so people get all the important information they need and don't lose focus.
- Each should address a single health and safety issue.Because these are short sessions, many topics would be sparse and difficult for people to remember. We see examples of topics covered later in this article.
- It is preferable to keep records of preliminary meetings.It's not required by law, but it's great for tracking your company's training and letting you know what has and hasn't been covered lately. Distribute an attendance sheet during the session or make a note for yourself and include some brief details of what you covered.Sitemateprovides a good sample template.
It is particularly important that preliminary talks must be relevant and approachable for the audience.
For example, if workers are doing a lot of manual handling tasks that day, refresh workers' knowledge of hazards and safe manual handling techniques at a pre-work meeting. Likewise, when you put them in context, for example by tailoring them to the specific devices and loads that employees need to handle on site that day, retention and engagement will be better.
You should also focus on proactivity and prevention, rather than responding to past incidents on the ground or ones you've seen on the news that might frighten you. Focus on the positive aspects of people observing health and safety in your location rather than scaring them about what could or has happened.
9 examples of topics that can be covered in pre-job site meetings
Pre-job interviews can cover a wide range of health and safety topics, especially for construction sites, but remember they should focus on one topic at a time. Importantly, they are concise and provide workers with clear, actionable guidance based on issues relevant to their jobs and the risks they face.
Here are 9 examples of Build Toolbox topics and some additional resources:
1. Asbestos Awareness
Materials containing asbestos are still present in many buildings constructed before the year 2000. Construction workers can encounter them in the course of their work, such as demolishing old buildings, and it is absolutely vital that they know how to handle this safely. Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to lung cancer, and despite the fact that asbestos use was banned in 1999, people are still developing problems from earlier exposure - two decades after it stopped.
If people have to work around materials containing asbestos, your job safety conversation might includeUpdating their knowledge of the risks of asbestos and what they should and shouldn't do to avoid exposure.For example, if they are not qualified to remove them, you can explain where asbestos-containing materials are on the site and the risks of disturbing them and how to avoid doing so.
Do you need an asbestos course?
OurAsbestos Awareness (Category A)The course provides guidance on asbestos hazards and how to prevent people from being exposed to them. This can be useful for anyone who wants to give presentations before work as it will help refresh your knowledge and you can use the information to inform your presentation ahead of time. work.
2. Fire safety
It is vital that staff understand how to minimize fire safety risks on your worksite and that they understand how to follow emergency evacuation procedures.
A conversation about fire safety canUpdate people's knowledge of how fires start, what type of fire hazards exist at your location and how people should control them– for example with proper waste disposal on site and safe practices when using tools that can generate sparks. They can also raise people's awareness of how to evacuate in the event of a fire, where to meet on site, and remind firefighters of their duties.
Do you need a fire safety course?
OurFire safety courseprovides guidance on how to start fires and minimize workplace hazards, which may be helpful for those wishing to hold breakout meetings on the subject. This will help you refresh your knowledge and you can use the information to support your preliminary talk.
3. Slip, trip and fall prevention
Slips, trips and falls from the same height are one of the leading causes of work-related accidents and injuries every year. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) claims that thousands of construction workers are injured each year when they trip or slip while working on a construction site.
Your tool kit talks about slips, trips, and fallscover common dangers on your website that people should watch out for,and what measures they should take to mitigate those risks, such as: B. Supervising their steps and proper management of materials and waste on site.
Need a slip, trip, and fall course?
OurSlips, trips and fallsThe course provides guidance on common slip, trip, and fall hazards in the workplace, which may be helpful for anyone wanting to conduct prepackaged lectures on the subject. This will help you refresh your knowledge and you can use the information to support your preliminary talk.
4. Working safely at height
Working at height is an incredibly risky activity and can be commonplace on your job site, so it's important everyone knows how to do it safely, whether they're a few feet off the ground or several. This includes the use of ladders and scaffolding.
A working at height lecture can cover common risk areas at your site andRemind people of the procedures to follow, including how to safely use equipment to help them work at height, such as scissor lifts. It could also explain the risks posed by ladders and how to safely assemble and climb them. You can also cover risks when working on scaffolding and, for example, emphasize the importance of correct assembly. with matching railing.
Need a Work at Height class?
Ourwork at heighteladder safetyThe courses provide guidance on working at height and on stairs safely, which can be useful for anyone wishing to give presentations on the subject. We have one tooLOLER coursewhen using equipment on the job site to lift people who need to work at height. These courses will help you refresh your knowledge and you can use the information they contain to inform your preparation meetings.
5. Mental Health
Speaking openly about mental health and receiving appropriate support is critical in any workplace, but it's especially important on construction sites. The construction industry has one of the highest suicide rates of any industry. Studies show that 75% of suicides in the UK are committed by men, andMale construction workers are three times more likely to commit suicide than the average man in the UK.
Work-life balance, unrealistic expectations, and a culture of not being able to voice concerns are often cited as reasons for mental health problems in construction workers. It is therefore important that senior personnel on construction sitesPay close attention to people's workloadsand that they helpbreak the barriersthat men (and people in general) often face when they open up about their feelings.
Use safety interviews as an opportunity to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with openness and that workers should not be afraid to speak to colleagues and managers about work issues. the welfarecompanion in mind, which aims to help businesses raise awareness of mental health and reduce the stigma associated with it, can help inform the content of your session. You can also promote it as a resource for people to learn about mental health beyond the lecture.
For more mental health advice in construction that can help you in your pre-work conversation, see our dedicated article:Management of occupational medicine in construction
6. Manual handling
Manual handling is often a key part of working on construction sites, but this physical aspect of the job can pose a real risk to workers' well-being if not effectively controlled.As stated by the HSE, Injuries related to manual handling are not only an inevitable part of the job – they can be avoided through good planning, safety practices and control measures.
Use safety talks toRemind people of the risks arising from manual handling activities, which are mainly musculoskeletal disorders.They develop over a long period of time, so people may not realize they are overdoing it until the damage is already underway. They can remind people about weight limits, how to use good technique, and how to use manual handling aids.
Do you need a manual handling course?
Ourmanual handlingThe course provides guidance on the risks that manual handling activities can pose to the body, such as: B. Musculoskeletal Disorders, and explains how to use good technique when performing manual handling activities and how to use manual handling aids safely. This can be helpful for those who want to hold security briefings on the subject. This will help you refresh your knowledge and inform any security meeting you plan to hold.
7. Dangerous weather and night work
All kinds of adverse weather conditions can put construction workers at risk, from cold and hot temperatures, heavy rain and lightning, strong winds, poor visibility and night work. For example, hot weather can cause health problems when workers are constantly exposed, ranging from minor sunburns to more serious, long-term conditions like skin cancer. Strong winds can affect the stability of the equipment, and poor visibility, e.g. B. during night work or dense fog, can make the operation of vehicles dangerous.
You should cover the control measures that are in place to combat these issues in a conversation about hazardous weather and night work safety.Make people aware of the health risks they may be exposed toand what they must do on site to protect themselves and others, including procedures for postponing work if weather conditions are too hazardous.
For more advice on working outdoors, seeWebsite tun HSE.
8. Hazardous Substances
Construction work can involve or generate a number of hazardous substances that can harm workers if inhaled or touched. These include harmful dust, cement, lead, solvents and more. For example, frequent exposure to cement can cause occupational dermatitis, while paint thinners can put workers at risk for occupational asthma. Silica is a particularly notable hazardous dust to which workers involved in grinding, drilling and grinding operations can be exposed and cause serious lung damage.
Use a pre-work meeting to remind workers of the hazardous materials they may be exposed to or that may be generated while working on site.Emphasize the importance of following safety procedures to protect yourself and others from exposure, including the use of PPE where required, such as respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and gloves.
Do you need a hazardous materials course?
OurCOSHHThe course provides guidance on common hazards from hazardous substances in the workplace and how to control them. The course can be useful for those who want to give lectures on the subject. This will help you refresh your knowledge and you can use the information to support your preliminary talk.
9. Environmental Awareness
Construction sites generate waste and can impact the environment in a number of ways.The work must be carried out taking into account possible environmental impacts on the surrounding area and wildlife.You also need to be aware of any impact the work may have on the local population, such as: B. Noise or material pollution.
You can use pre-work meetings as an opportunity to remind workers of the procedures you have in place to minimize the environmental impact of work, processes for accidental spills, and how to minimize the consequences. Another control example to remind people about is turning off noisy vehicles and machinery when not in use when near a public area to reduce noise pollution.
Also remember to make sure people understand the construction waste disposal rules as there are legal requirements in this regard. For guidance on construction waste, see our dedicated article:How to dispose of construction waste
Besides these 9 examples, there are many other topics you could cover in construction tool talks such as: B. First Aid; vehicle and road safety; cramped spaces; use of equipment, tools and gadgets; Personal protective equipment; electric security; dangers from falling objects; emergency and rescue procedures; excavations; noise hazards; and tons more. Online examples of what a session should include can be found e.g. More colorfulThis pagee noHSE page for pre-work meetings.
After reading the examples above and the advice on how to carry them out effectively, you should now be in a good position to hold regular pre-work meetings on your site. Remember to always tailor the topic to your specific site and place the information in the context of your site's activities and risks. This helps with customer retention and supports your overall goal of promoting health and safety.
What to read next:
- administration of health and safety training
- PPE in construction: safety guide and checklist
- Dust hazards in construction: importance of risk management and RPE
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