Tool box talks (TBTs) have been described as “missed opportunities” for providing important safety messages. During a three year study of ergonomics in construction trades (Grant No. NIOSH U60 OH009762), WU researchers developed a TBT Guide (pdf) (Tool Box TIPS – Training Injury Prevention Strategies) for safety reps to use to lead meaningful, interactive ergonomics TBTs. The guide is designed for the safety representative to tailor TBTs to the work crew’s current worksite and tasks, lead discussions to identify problems that may lead to injuries, and with worker input identify solutions to those problems.

During the construction of a mixed residential building, WU researchers performed a case study of the TBTs with the help of a general contractor’s safety rep, a union carpenter, and a crew of 36 workers. The case study showed these TBTs may potentially:

  1. Improve the delivery of ergonomics training,
  2. help safety reps prepare site specific information,
  3. improve open discussion of problems and ergonomic solutions between safety reps and workers, and
  4. maximize the opportunity for workers to participate during these important safety meetings

Why should I use this ergonomics TBT training guide?

  • Ergonomics training using a TBT format may help with improving leading indicators for injury prevention (e.g. workers’ knowledge, skills, and use of solutions) for reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries in construction.

What is different about these TBTs?

  • They were designed to relate ergonomics information to the crew’s current job.
  • They provide a simple format for planning and leading open discussions about ergonomics with the work crew.
  • They help with pointing out problems: current injury risks or issues in work tasks that make it hard to do the work.
  • They give suggestions for ergonomic solutions: ways to make work tasks easier to do.
  • They are based on research with multiple construction trades.

Who should use this training guide?

  • Safety representatives who conduct worksite safety training. This includes safety managers, foremen, or crew leads.


Tool Box Talks

  1. Ergonomics in Construction (pdf)
  2. Keep Reach Close (pdf)
  3. Positioning (pdf)
  4. Move Materials with Assist (pdf)
  5. Manual Tools (pdf)
  6. Power Tools (pdf)