Do You Discuss Safety Hazards?

Staff | September 28, 2010

User #1: Here in my corner of the world, employers are required by law to exercise "due diligence" at the worksite. They have to do everything "reasonable" to provide safe working conditions and practices. Part of this work-site safety is the "tailgate meeting," which is documented by the Supervisor/Employer so proof can be shown in the event that a safety officer comes on site and asks. Also, if an accident was to happen, it would be proof that the employer was practicing due diligence.

User #2: We have work-site meetings at the commencement of every job. The tailgate is where I explain the intricacies of each job. At the last job, we discussed asbestos removal, demolition, overhead power lines, and machinery hazards due to restricted access, manual lifting, and dust control.

User #3: We call them toolbox talks. I have to document what safety stuff we talked about and turn it in monthly, or I don't get paid.

User #4: My own personal experiences indicate that these meetings must be documented on paper and everyone present needs to sign off. Why? Let's say you have a meeting on Monday where everyone is instructed not to go under a gravel screening plant while it is in operation. Everyone that works at that operation is present and signs off. On Wednesday, the plant maintenance mechanic violates this instruction and is found lying on top of the plant generator fuel tank, dead. [Investigators] reviewed all documentation and visited the screen plant manufacturer's facility.

The saving grace in this tragedy was that I always made a copy of the original weekly toolbox meeting sheet after everyone signed off. I turned in the original to the project safety director, and the copy then went into my own files in my office desk. A day or two after the incident, the safety director let me know that he could not find the original copy. I said, "no problem," and pulled out my copy. We then made a dozen copies, and my original copy went into the office safe.

That little sheet of paper did not stop a good man and personal friend from being killed despite his being aware of the dangers. He chose to disregard the warnings he had been given. The paper did save the company and several supervisors severe penalties and potential loss of our jobs, not to mention what likely would have been large legal fees.

In today's tort-happy atmosphere, you have to cover yourself every way you can. is a user forum where professionals in the heavy-equipment industry can exchange ideas and post questions or comments. Posts have been edited for clarity and content.