Toolbox Talks: Safety on the Job


Construction sites are inherently hazardous environments, with the most common types of injuries being slips and falls, struck by an object, electrocution, and caught in between. Here are some essential safety reminders to help prevent on-the-job injuries.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Most injuries from being struck by an object, such as being hit by a machine or falling materials, can be avoided with clearly marked or blocked off hazard areas and wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE), according to OSHA. PPE should do the following:

  • Protect the head from falling objects and overhead hazards through use of hard hats
  • Safeguard the eyes from debris, dust, and flying particles through use of safety glasses or face shields
  • Provide hearing protection to prevent hearing damage from loud equipment and tools
  • Make workers highly visible with noticeable clothing in areas with moving vehicles or equipment
  • Protect against inhalation of dust, fumes, or hazardous gases through use of respirators
  • Shield hands from cuts, abrasions, chemicals, and extreme temperatures through use of gloves
  • Protect feet from heavy objects, tools, and potential crushing hazards through use of steel-toed boots

Fall Protection

According to OSHA, most falls on construction sites result from uneven surfaces, improper mounting and dismounting from equipment, improper ladder use, or lack of fall-protection equipment. Slips and trips are often caused by misplaced items or spills and leaks. Be sure the following fall-protection measures are in place and in use.

  • Install guardrails around openings, edges, and elevated platforms.
  • Use safety nets to catch workers who may fall from heights.
  • Provide harnesses, lanyards, and anchor points for workers at elevated locations.
  • Ensure scaffold structures are stable and equipped with guardrails and access points.

Ladder Safety

  • Choose the right ladder for the job, ensuring it can support the worker’s weight.
  • Maintain three points of contact while climbing (two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand).
  • Use ladders on level surfaces and secure them to prevent tipping.

Tool Safety

  • Keep tools and equipment in good working condition through routine inspections and maintenance.
  • Train workers to use tools correctly and follow manufacturer guidelines.
  • Use tool lanyards or tethers to prevent dropped tools from injuring workers below.
  • Follow safety protocols when using hand and power tools to prevent accidents.

Electrical Safety

  • Install GFCIs to prevent electrical shock hazards.
  • Implement procedures to control energy sources when servicing or repairing electrical equipment.
  • Check for damaged cords, use extension cords rated for outdoor use, and avoid overloading outlets.

Hazard Communication

  • Make Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) readily available for hazardous materials.
  • Clearly label hazardous substances and use appropriate signage to identify hazards.

First Aid and Emergency Response

  • Provide well stocked first-aid kits and ensure workers are trained in basic first aid.
  • Develop and communicate a site-specific emergency response plan, including evacuation procedures.

In addition, conduct regular safety inspections of the site and equipment to identify and address potential hazards. Also, perform regular safety training for all workers to ensure they understand and follow safety protocols. Provide ongoing education to keep workers informed about new safety procedures and hazards.