Fact Sheets & Toolbox Talks
The Workplace Safety Group within University Health and Safety provides a variety of outreach materials designed to help your location provide a safe and healthy work environment for your employees.
These materials include documents including Fact Sheets, Toolbox Talks, Haz. Comm. Topics, and Safety Alerts. While these materials may seem very similar, there are important differences in their purpose, design, and use.
- “Fact sheets” are brief introductions to a specific safety topic or concept, such as respiratory protection. They are intended for use by University supervisors or managers and/or staff who may have some responsibility for safety in their areas. Thus, they tend to be detailed and explain the issue from the perspective of a supervisor or manager.
- “Toolbox talks” (sometimes called tailgate talks, or similar) are brief, informal safety training sessions on a specific topic. They are often held in a very casual environment, such as the actual work environment, as opposed to a training room. The Toolbox Talk documents are guides, or outlines for conducting these training sessions. They are often written in a very brief, bullet list format, and include “knowledge checks” to verify that participants are understanding the material. Like all other types of safety training, Toolbox Talks must be documented, so the Toolbox Talk document includes a sign-in sheet which the department or location providing the training maintains in their training records.
- “Haz. Comm. Topics” are exactly the same as Toolbox Talks, but they specifically address hazardous chemicals, harmful physical agents (noise, heat and radiation) and infectious agents (i.e. human blood, TB, etc.). OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (formerly known as the MN Employee Right to Know Act) requires most employees to receive training on the hazardous chemicals, harmful physical agents, and infectious agents to which they may be exposed on the job. This training must consist of general topics, such as how to read and understand chemical labels and Safety Data Sheets, but must also include hazard-specific information on topics such as Carbon Monoxide, Formaldehyde, etc. UHS has developed online training materials which cover these general topics, but since specific exposures will vary greatly from department to department, these Haz. Comm. Topic sheets are helpful in providing the hazard-specific portion of your training.
- “Safety Alerts” are summaries of incidents and near misses that have occurred at the University. The purpose of these alerts is to publicize the incidents, and their causes, so that members of the University community can be alert and vigilant for predictable hazards.