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Tailgate Meetings in the Digital Age


Posted on June 10th, 2019

tailgate meeting sign-in sheets.

The last thing anyone in the construction industry wants is for a worker to get hurt on a jobsite. To avoid workplace injuries, it is crucial to educate crews on the most up-to-date safety practices, and to make sure that all your bases are covered when it comes to accident prevention. Whether you have a tailgate meeting every day or just once a week, you're probably either spending some time using the web to research toolbox talk topics or downloading talks sent to you from your safety manager. You may think that finding a toolbox talk on the internet, sharing it with your crews, scanning their sign-in sheet, and sending it off to the office is the most efficient and current method.

Although using the internet and computers to find and store toolbox talks (and the accompanying paperwork) is certainly less painful than digging through some dusty repository of binders trying to find the right talk, the workflow requires quite a bit of effort. Of course, we all hope that holding safety tailgate meetings prevents incidents, but unfortunately accidents still happen, and when it comes time to show proof of the tailgate meeting and its attendees, you don't want to struggle to dig up your papers or files. Ideally, there would be a system to digitally schedule, organize, and store toolbox talks.

The Current Tailgate Meeting Process

So maybe you've noticed a safety risk on the jobsite, or your office has asked you to hold a tailgate meeting on a certain subject. First, you have to search around the web to find the appropriate toolbox talk. Then you have to print it out, and share it with the crew working on the jobsite. When you make it back to your trailer at the end of the day, you have to scan that sign-in sheet along with the toolbox talk you gave, and email them to your PM or someone else in the office.

While this process isn't exactly complicated, there are a lot of steps to follow, and there are definitely some flaws with the system. You're supposed to collect signatures from each person attending the tailgate meeting, but often times, the toolbox talk sign-in sheet never makes its way around, or folks just forget to sign. While this may not seem like a huge concern when the talk is given, it is an unfortunate possibility that somewhere down the road during this project, an accident will occur onsite. If a worker gets injured, and they never signed off on a toolbox talk relevant to the incident, the company can still be liable in the case of a legal dispute.

The Future Tailgate Meeting Process

Now that we're seeing nearly all other construction management workflows go digital, it's no surprise that construction safety is following suit. There's no reason the process needs to be as choppy as it currently is, and with a proper safety management system, a company should be able to maintain safety standards with organization and confidence that all of their projects have informational, documented toolbox talks. By having a way to officially track when and which safety tailgate meetings are held, and exactly who was in attendance, there will be less room for error when it comes to keeping records.

If you're already using a mobile app like Raken for your field management, you know how much time and effort you save with easy-to-use reporting features. You can walk the jobsite while recording your dailies, and submit them with the tap of a button. With the capability to use a smart phone for your field reporting, inconveniences that once were standard components to your workflow, like double-entering data, decoding messy handwriting, or spending hours in your trailer at the end of the day, are no longer issues. Now, just imagine if toolbox talks were that easy to manage. Cutting out the time spent researching and preparing for tailgate meetings and using an organized sign-in system would allow you to focus on your other day-to-day duties, shortening your workday and further ensuring safety on the jobsite. You'd get home to your families faster, and your crews will always make it home to theirs'.

The Construction Safety Dance

Although construction has been slower than other industries with adopting modern technology, companies are finally implementing a variety of softwares for each step of a project. Now that folks in both the office and the field have seen how digital tools are just as useful for construction as physical ones, they are receptive to continuous changes and upgrades in systems. In terms of safety management, the internet is a decent place to search for toolbox talks, but as many of you have likely experienced, it can be tough to sift through the vast sea of information before finding exactly what you're looking for. In addition to that, it is imperative that your information comes from a reliable source, as workers' lives are up in the air (literally). Even if you are downloading company-approved toolbox talks, the process of giving a toolbox talk ends up being pretty time consuming. 

What if there were a one-stop shop for toolbox talks? The days of searching, scheduling, and storing toolbox talks within a matter of minutes may be sooner than you think. Learn more about Raken's toolbox talk app.

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