US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

When our work day involves doing similar and comfortable tasks, it is easy for our minds to ‘check out’ while our bodies keep working. A likely familiar example of this is when you get into your car with the intent of making a stop on your way home, only to find you were on autopilot heading home and missed the turn. Unfortunately, it is when we are working with our minds checked out that we are most likely to get injured. So, how do we keep employees engaged? One method, which has been popular in construction and other heavy industries for a while now, is proving to be just as effective in other industries at preventing injuries and is often referred to as a “toolbox talk.” In its best and most basic form, a toolbox talk consists of the jobsite lead taking 5-15 minutes at the start of each shift to discuss with their employees: the day’s job, any special assignments, any safety and/or health hazards they might encounter, any changes to the way things are to be done and how much progress is expected by the end of the shift. Unfortunately, like many things that start off with great intentions, many toolbox talks have devolved into a supervisor standing at the front of the room reading a sheet of paper to a group of yawning employees.

Here are some toolbox talk suggestions:

  • Regular, short and sharp toolbox talks can be an excellent way to get the safety message to your employees and resolve many safety problems.
  • Involve the employees – they know what safety problems they are most likely to encounter; ask them for topic suggestions and/or invite them to run a toolbox talk.
  • A little humor is a good thing.
  • Avoid lecture style presentations whenever possible.
  • Interaction with employees is critical; encourage questions and participation and never be derogatory when answering.
  • Keep an attendance sheet for participants.
  • Thank everyone for their participation.

For further assistance regarding this topic, UVICELL Safety in Paradise can help small and medium-sized employers by providing free OSHA On-Site Consultation Services. To learn more about this free and confidential safety and occupational health program visit:

Please don’t hesitate to contact us directly with safety and health questions, to schedule a consultation, or with any other safety and occupational health concerns at our Safety in Paradise office at We look forward to helping you!