A toolbox meeting, or toolbox talk, is a short periodical consultation at work, intended to make everybody aware of the different safety aspects and dangers at the work sites to increase the safety in the workplace.
The toolbox meeting onboard ships is a universal method to improve seafarer safety and should be conducted prior any High Risk Operation subject to Permit to Work procedure.
The job schedule on ships includes many crucial tasks such as entering confined spaces, cleaning tanks, bunkering, working at heights, working overboard, performing hot work, and performing maintenance on vital equipment. When painting is required to be done overboard, at a height, in a small space, or in severe weather, even seemingly basic operations like painting can become perilous on ships.
Toolbox meetings are an effective method for reviewing and refreshing common safety concerns as well as raising the safety awareness within a crew. They are designed as an information exchange where everyone participating can contribute their knowledge and experience. Toolbox meetings are also designed to facilitate health and safety concerns on the job site and assist in promoting company’s safety culture.
A toolbox meeting is considered as the number one task on a ship’s schedule of several shipping companies. Amazingly, though, there are still a lot of ships and crews who are ignorant of this as well.
Why it is called “Toolbox meeting”
The reason is mostly historical. Workers at previous decades used to gather around the Toolbox they had for carrying their equipment, at a construction site, for the quick talk or briefing. These talks produced a kind of Risk management as through knowledge and previous experience from older workers, the youngers learned how to approach a task safely. Nowadays these meetings are to be held at any workplace.
Who is responsible to conduct Toolbox meeting
At the beginning of the workday each department needs to conduct a Toolbox Meeting. The meeting should involve every participant in a job prior to the beginning of the job provided that the participants had first the opportunity to physically review the workplace (where possible).
Toolbox Meetings are held daily, prior to any scheduled work commencement, at the same time and place, if possible. Supervisors or Department Heads must ensure that all available crewmembers attend Toolbox Meetings.
Tips for Toolbox Meetings
- Toolbox meeting is to be held prior task
- Keep it short; only tips and basics are to be highlighted
- Try to do it at the job site (if possible)
- Seafarers’ participation should be encouraged, if not mandatory
- Content should be engaging; for example, instead of reminding the safety rules for a task ask seafarers to do it
- Always include a tip for Stop Work Authority
Duration of Toolbox Meetings
A Toolbox Meeting usually lasts five (5) to ten (10) minutes and includes the following:
- The meeting starts as determined by schedule
- The meeting concentrates strictly on safety topics
- The leader of the meeting guides the participants based on his experience, and should acknowledge comments and questions
- Crewmembers contribute to comments and questions relating to the topics of Toolbox Meeting.
The leader of a Toolbox meeting uses his/her experience to remind all employees, especially recent hires, of any and all dangers associated with this particular task and the types of machinery, tools, equipment and materials being used to complete a specific job.
During the Tool Box Talks, the floor is open to the participants to generally discuss about the topic and are encouraged to ask themselves questions, such as:
- Have I ever done a relative job?
- If yes, which factors have changed since the last time I did this job?
- Is it possible to get injured by this task?
- Which factors related to this task are riskier?
Already prepared Risk Assessments are to be reviewed during the Toolbox in order to reveal the hazards identified and the mitigation control measures.
At the end of the Toolbox Meeting, if it has been determined by the Head of Department that existing Risk Assessment is appropriate, then the work can proceed as scheduled. In case any part of the already prepared Risk Assessment is not satisfied (Initial conditions, control measures), additional safety considerations should be taken and additional Risk Assessment needs to be conducted.
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