• Jono Johnson
    Hi guys,

    Quick question: For those of you who conduct daily toolbox meetings, do you have your employees sign the form in recognition that they have attended the meeting?

    Or do you simply have a tick or "X" by the attendance column or whatever to show they were there, with e.g. the Supervisor signing the document?

    Or is it six of one / half a doz of the other?
  • Chris Anderson
    We have all the staff sign the toolbox, either on a hard copy, or electronically on a tablet/ cellphone
  • rebecca telfer
    i have all staff that attend any meetings, sign the toolbox meeting register. when doing an ACC audit i was advised by the powers to be above the worksafe do not accept any tickbox signoff.
  • Jono Johnson
    Awesome, thanks Rebecca. Interesting point re worksafe not accepting any tickbox signoff - although quite obvious why I guess. Cheers.
  • Rachael
    We have a system where a representative of the group (chosen at random but who was at the meeting) signs the minutes as being a true and accurate record of what was covered and people in attendance. It is then counter-signed by the person who took the meeting.

    If it's a toolbox meeting with a PD session tacked onto the end of it then there will also usually be a photo of the group which has come in handy. :)
  • Rachael
    Yeah... pretty irrefutable as evidence they were there. The tricky part is evidencing whether they participated or understood, but it does take a bit of heat off the managers. :)
  • Peter Bateman
    At the Safeguard conference in May, @Drew Rae described "safety clutter" as the duplications and time-consuming procedures that remain in place, even though no one believes they improve safety outcomes.
    Could a focus on documenting who was present at a toolbox meeting be regarded as "safety clutter"?
  • Mike Massaar
    We require JSAs and toolbox talks in the field. They are lead by the team leader who records who is there, but no signatures required, which would indeed be safety clutter. I don't believe WorkSafe require signatures. Afterall it is about doing the right thing to keep people safe rather than introducing bureaucratic nonsense in case you think something may go wrong and you want to cover your behind.
  • Andrew
    A toolbox talk (before the Safety Practioners dead set on a job creation programme got hold of them) was simply a quick, informal chance to catch up and quickly drive a safety message. They generally focused on the major issues faced that day. A requirement to "sign" creates formality and delays and no way assures the message was received and understood. But keeps someone employed thinking they are doing something useful.
  • Rachael
    Could a focus on documenting who was present at a toolbox meeting be regarded as "safety clutter"?

    Yep. And in a perfect world we wouldn't need it. Unfortunately the world isn't perfect, we are all a work in progress and you do need to have that evidence so all duty holders can say, 'we tried our best' and have some sort of evidence to back that claim up.
  • E Baxter
    The minute taker notes attendees to the meeting on the form which is scanned and held on file, individuals are only required to sign when attending a training session
  • Craig Marriott
    Business shows prosecutor signed form. Prosecutor asks worker, "Did you pay attention, was the tool box talk any good, or did you just sign because that's what you've been told to do and you were there even though you weren't listening?" Greg Smith cites some case law (Australian) here in making the point that the paperwork is irrelevant. Better to focus on making sure people understand than getting them to sign.
  • Scott Williams
    I agree with Peter; we need to reduce the paperwork. A toolbox should be just that, talking about general items around the toolbox. I think if you're discussing issues at a toolbox you want to be documented, maybe it should be done in a formal environment. And for speed, if it must be documented, maybe the supervisor could create a note on their phone, take a photo and attach.

    WorkSafe seems to agree about only documenting major items. https://worksafe.govt.nz/the-toolshed/tools/writing-health-and-safety-documents-for-your-workplace/ page 8.

    "In most cases it isn’t a HSWA requirement to keep written records, although it is good practice to record how work risks are being managed.
    Specific documents are required in some situations. For example:
    – the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 require PCBUs to keep written asbestos management plans
    – HSWA requires a PCBU to keep a record of each notifiable event for at least five years."
  • Simon Lawrence
    I agree with Craig Marriott above. I’m aware this practice exists, but I think it gets close to trying to contract out of duties, which we can’t do under the Act. The fact that a worker was present at a meeting, and was “expected” to sign the form is a bit coercive. It does not provide any evidence they understood, or that they were even fully present for the full meeting, or that they were aware what they were signing for.

    It’s a very archaic practice in my opinion. If we are engaging effectively with workers, why get them to line up and put their name on a meeting record? It’s just so in the past and very authoritarian. If we are collaborating with workers, we want them to be engaged and owning risks, not tied at the wrist.
  • SafetylawyerNZ
    The reality is that when investigating an incident WorkSafe expects to see minutes of toolbox talks showing who attended. In my experience, inspectors seem relaxed about whether people sign for themselves or one person writes down all the names. The bigger issues are:

    1. Did people understand what they were told? I agree with Craig Marriott on this.
    2. Did people who arrived late get the briefing too?
  • Simon Lawrence
    I’m not totally against this practice. But I’m unconvinced that it’s honest engagement with workers. If you’re an employer with integrity and respect for your people, and you truly value their input, you don’t push a piece of paper under their noses unless you want to cover your own backside. (In which case, you’re probably talking AT them, not with them). They’re not stupid.

    I think employers have a choice here: Decide if you would take the risk of treating your workers like responsible people and fail a few times with some of them, or treat them ALL like cattle. The argument for treating people like cattle is always “they behave like cattle”, which is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    For me, the net gain of treating people as if they are responsible far outweighs the costs in the long term.
  • Simon Lawrence
    By the way, I’ve no issue with getting signatures on individual training records, particularly where it’s a key skill. In which case, the trainer needs to sign off on their assessment too, if they have the balls.

    But not toolbox meetings, where it’s supposedly a sharing of information.
  • Jan Hall
    Paul Reyneke yes! In the Middle Ages university students' studies included the contemplation of how many angels could fit on the head of a pin. "Angelology". A LOT of "Angelology" in our vocation no question.

    1. Point taken of course about over-documentation BUT (in construction industry anyhow) accreditation organisations Sitewise and Impac/Prequal DEMAND that records of both toolbox talks and JSAs are signed by attendees. Worksafe persons on the other hand, in my experience, are happy with scruffy-ish dated diary notes.

    2. Signatures are easily captured by having a sign sheet fastened to a couple of clipboards with a pen and passed around whilst the talk is in progress. Tbh it isn't difficult.
  • Jono Johnson
    Fair comment Mike. Understand what you're saying however there are examples - such as for our company - where we contract to a very large NZ organisation who demand we have JSAs signed by whoever is working on that task and also anyone who attends a toolbox meeting must sign.
  • Jono Johnson

    First, thanks to everyone who replied - very much appreciated and also all comments were very interesting, so thanks to all for your contributions.

    We have Kept the employees signing the toolbox meeting forms for now, however TBH I do not think this will last beyond the end of the year if it even gets canned before then - for most of the "clutter" reasons above.

    Thanks again everybody!

  • Tania Curtin
    This stuff drives me bonkers! I totally agree with the most recent comments...

    This idea that getting individual signatures on TT's proves or achieves anything is plain nonsense.

    PLEASE let's stop focusing on paperwork and signatures, and start putting the emphasis on doing the right thing and having good conversations about risk!

    To my mind, demanding a signature from a worker in this context is denigrating and disrespectful and sends the message that the employer's focus is covering their own backside.

    On a side note - gosh I feel bad for Worksafe! In my experience, their expectations are reasonable, however they seem to be cited as the one requiring all this bureaucratic nonsense when they actually couldn't care less about it.

    External 'pre-qualification' systems are telling businesses how to manage H&S, right down to trivial details like this. It only turns people against H&S as it becomes viewed as a bureaucratic exercise and all about paperwork, not people.
  • Tania Curtin

    Don't you just love it when another organisation dictates how you must manage your business?

    Do they also tell you how to manage your accounting, human resources, you IT systems? I doubt it. So why has this become so acceptable when it comes to H&S?

    It is beyond me why these big organisations have to be so overly prescriptive about how their contractors manage H&S, without any consideration given to whether what they are asking is fit for that contractor's business, or even keeps people safe!

    I understand that they need to be assured that contractors have the capacity and capability to work safely - I totally get that... BUT, can't they ask contractors to tell them about their risks and how they manage them, rather than demanding evidence that a certain process is carried out in specific circumstances in a specific format...?
  • Jennifer Wood
    At my company we have a Toolbox meeting everyday. These meetings used to be long and with the requirement for everyone to write their name and sign on. As people do, to find short cuts the foremen would then write up the toolbox the day before and get everyone to sign on the next day.

    This defeated the point. So we reduced the Toolbox to a quick catch up of what activities are being done onsite and a quick checklist for the Foreman i.e. signage in place, hazard board current, contractors inducted. At the end the foreman will take a picture of all staff and attach this to the online form.

    There is no legal requirement to record a toolbox. But it is good practice, if it is done on the day and workers are given an opportunity to contribute.

    What I would be interested to know is what time of day the Toolbox is held for other companies?
    We encourage this meeting to be first thing in the morning, but this might mean that some workers are missed if they arrive late or in some cases subbies do not arrive until later that day. And when we are doing high risk work we often set up all the gear and complete inspections before gathering to do the toolbox.
  • James Williamson
    We are using a phone app for reporting our toolbox meetings called Saferme. There is a signature section but it is not easy to use and the signatures mean nothing. However we take a photo of the group which is a better indicator of who is there. The app form takes only a few minutes to complete and is much better than a paper trail.
  • Mark Stewart
    Everyone on the job site has to sign the daily toolbox meeting for with the time they attended to ensure late comers receive the same information.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    - the majority of H&S policies and procedures imposed on workers / contractors are imposed because someone in a position of authority and responsibility believes it will cover their backside for legal liability.

    It's particularly frustrating when people in the organisation imposing the requirements imposes them unilaterally, without consultation (or to give the appearance of asking for input) or opportunities to discuss and debate before implementing procedures and forms.

    If managers would just drop their ego-driven pride and sit down with contractors / workers and invite them to contribute ideas and suggestions, ask questions, and overall ensure those most affected have the opportunity to participate in meaningful ways (this means doing more than just sending the superficial and largely cosmetic afterthought communicating what has already been decided by them and asking for any feedback or comments that will ultimately be ignored rather than risk losing face and having to back down!).

    Genuine participation in the process of developing processes and procedures not only facilitates more effective processes; it also engenders greater buy-in to comply with them.
  • Tania Curtin
    Sadly Sheri, I couldn't agree with you more. You're right, we need to pare it back to the workers, what they want and need. It amazes me how often companies seem to overlook what a massively valuable resource their people are, in stead treating them like morons and a liability.
  • Jono Johnson

    Tell me about it, Tania. this is unbelievably frustrating, especially when we contract out to three major i.e. billion dollar enterprises in NZ and OMG the pre-qualification CRAP we have to submit, jeez lol. I'm sure these things are initiated by people with the sole purpose of only justifying their position, yet with little thought to the faffing about it causes at the other end. Sigh...
  • Tania Curtin
    I feel your pain. As a consultant I often have clients asking for help to complete pre-qualification - it's especially daunting and resource intensive for SME's.
    The main thing that bothers me about it is that it's all focused on paperwork - NOT practice. It perpetuates this idea that processes and paper equal safety - which is simply NOT accurate. Case in point - I know there are companies out there that simply make up the documentation to get a good pre-qualification score - and the DO get it! Then everyone has this false sense of safety because of some meaningless rating they've achieved. Unfortunately, more and more big players seem to be adopting this approach, combined with inadequate monitoring on site which just compounds the issue. Sigh indeed!
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