Tailgate Talks with Your Crew Improves Jobsite Safety



Two multiracial construction workers taking a coffee break, conversing, leaning on the tailgate of a pickup truck. The African-American man is in his 40s. The main focus is on his coworker, a senior man in his 60s.The importance of safety on jobsites cannot be overestimated. Unsafe jobsite practices can lead to accidents that impact business operations by slowing down and causing delays, reducing productivity. Worse, jobsite accidents can cause injuries and even death. More importantly, accidents can profoundly impact the lives of injured or killed workers and their loved ones.

In addition, there are significant costs associated with an unsafe jobsite. These can include cost overruns, delay penalties, workers’ compensation claims, legal fees, and higher insurance premiums.

The importance of safety training cannot be overestimated. An effective workplace safety training program helps ensure that employees are safe from harm.

“Toolbox/tailgate talks are a way to reinforce what workers have learned in their safety training and help keep that information front and center in their minds,” explains Monica Rakoczy, Owner, of EnterTRAINING Solutions. “Furthermore, these informal group discussions are a quick way to remind workers of the hazards they are around every day that they tend to get used to and forget about.”

EnterTRAINING Solutions provides OSHA safety training and compliance assistance for the utility, construction, and industrial industries with a focus on presenting safety in a fun and engaging manner that leads to lasting impressions.

When a person goes through safety training, they realistically only retain a percentage of what they learned, she explains, and that slowly fades over time. What’s more, people retain different types of information for different lengths of time.

“The important thing is to keep safety information fresh in people’s heads so they can remember that information when they are going out in the field,” stresses Rakoczy. “The purpose of toolbox/tailgate talks is to give small little bites of information to highlight some of the hazards that are out in the working environment and some of the mitigation techniques behind that, making it very easy to both convey and understand.”

Hazards are everywhere

The term toolbox/tailgate talks came about because short safety meetings were done on the jobsite at the start of the workday, Rakoczy says. Because hazards are everywhere, it does not make sense to only reinforce a company’s safety program to just crews in the field. It is also beneficial to talk about hazards in the office and other places as well.

Those who give these talks do not have to be managers, she points out. Depending on the company and how they run their safety program, some companies will have superintendents or supervisors run their toolbox/tailgate talks. Other companies rotate the responsibility to their workers so that they take some ownership of safety.

Rakoczy stresses “that for any type of safety training to be effective it has to be consistent and continual. Safety is not a once-and-done message. It is continuous.”

She will be discussing how to use available resources to develop engaging, informative toolbox/tailgate talks to provide relevant site-specific safety information during her sold out Toolbox/Tailgate Talks education sessions at The Utility Expo 2023.

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About the author

Monica Rakoczy headshotMonica Rakoczy grew up walking jobsites with her father, the CEO of a general contracting company in Lancaster, PA. She says safety was not a huge part of her career when she started.

“It was some 10 years into my career when I discovered the importance of workplace safety and I fell absolutely in love with it,” she recalls.

One of the things that sets EnterTRAINING Solutions apart from other training organizations “is that the format is interactive and involved, plus the training has a lighter atmosphere,” notes Rakoczy. “As a result, attendees change from being forced attendees to willing participants and this leads to lasting impressions.”

Rakoczy has presented at previous The Utility Expo shows – the largest and fastest-growing trade show in the utility industry. She says there is great value in participating in the event’s comprehensive education program because of the wealth of information and knowledge imparted to attendees.

The sessions are a chance for show attendees to pull themselves away from the Expo floor and gain a better understanding of certain aspects of products and technology on display, she points out. This allows attendees to get a deeper dive into certain products and topics. Moreover, the show floor and the education sessions work together.

“I can tell you all day long about fall protection. But then when you hold it in your hands and understand the different components of it and how technology is moving things along, that becomes a totally different story.”


While both of Rakozy's sessions on the topic have sold out, that is just one of dozens of learning opportunities at The Utility Expo 2023. Discover new strategies and techniques while making lasting connections with your peers in the utility industry. Click here for more information on The Utility Expo's comprehensive education program. 

2023 Education Sessions


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