Introduction to Tool Box Talks


The following are only suggested topics and inclusion for some Tool Box talks to help you get your team thinking about safety when they work.


Always refer to Ontario’s Occupational Healy and Safety System (OSHA) which is administered by the Ministry of Labour for full regulations and guidelines as courses and certifications are often required for equipment and tools found on the farm.

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General Response Talk


Why Emergency Safety Tool Box Talks with staff and family members. why tool box talks

As highlighted by this resource there are many different types of emergencies that can happen on the farm.  Being proactive in having preventative steps in place, and resources and processes in how to deal with an emergency when it happens is key to mitigating the recovery time and possible lose of not only property but human life.

Suggestions for areas to include in a Tool box Talk for staff and family members about general response to every emergency:

  • Take a breath, pause and reset;
    • Do not overreact, rush in or make poor choices by being too quick to react;
  • Before helping a victim of an incident, always ensure it is safe to do so;
  • Know farms procedures when dealing with natural disasters and emergencies;
    • When to call 911;
      • Know farms muster points, farms legal address for responders;
    • Know where the emergency response equipment is located; and
    • Know where power, water and gas shut off is, and how to shut off equipment/machinery.

Remind staff and family members that only those trained in first aid should assist a victim. Never give first aid treatment for which they are not trained.

Knowing what to do in an emergency, is just as important as knowing how to prevent the emergency in the first place.  Knowing this may save your life or those around you, along with your farm animals.

Four Seconds to Safety


Before starting a new, but familiar, task or in an emergency situation, the act of re-focusing for a mere four seconds has been reset shown to reduce the probability of an injury or incident by more than 90%!

It is easy to imagine the different activities we do every day and how this applies. For example, getting in a forklift take 4 seconds to look around, this allows us to change our thinking from the task at hand to focusing on the area, road conditions, other vehicles and so on. This is a “reset”, an excellent way to refocus on the job at hand and an effective tool to prevent injury.

Four seconds is all it takes. Creating this new habit of taking four seconds can significantly reduce your chance of injury.

Talk with staff and family members about how they can incorporate the “reset” into their daily work.

Chainsaw Safety Tips


Using proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and safe operating procedures can minimize potential injuries.

Suggestions for areas to include in a Tool box Talk for staff and family members about Chainsaw use.

Before Starting:  

  • Ensure proper personal protective equipment is worn when operating the saw, which includes hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing and head protection;
  • Ensure you clothing does not have anything the blade can get caught on;
  • Always check controls, chain tension, bolts and handles to ensure that they are functioning properly and that they are adjusted according to the manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Ensure that the chain is sharp and that the lubrication reservoir is full; and
  • Move to at least 10 feet from any fueling area, with the chain’s brake engaged, before starting.


  • Use approved containers for transporting fuel to the saw;
  • Dispense fuel at least 10 feet away from any sources of ignition;
  • Use a funnel or a flexible hose when pouring fuel into the saw;
  • Never attempt to fuel a running or HOT saw; and
  • Never smoke during fueling.

General Saw Safety:

  • Ensure that the saw’s chain path is clear of dirt, debris, small tree limbs and rocks;
  • Look for nails, spikes or other metal in the tree/ wood before cutting;
  • Always start the saw on the ground or on another firm support;
  • Keep your hands on the saw’s handles, and maintain secure footing while operating the saw;
  • Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw on rough or uneven terrain;
  • Watch for branches under tension, they may spring out when cut;
  • Gasoline-powered chain saws must be equipped with a protective device that minimizes chainsaw kickback; and
  • To avoid kick-back, do not saw with the tip. If equipped, keep tip guard in place.

Conveyor Safety


Conveyors can be dangerous. Loose clothing, untied long hair and jewelry, particularly rings, are dangerous to wear on the job. conveyor Combine these with the presence of a conveyor and the hazard potential increases quickly.  Like other tools we work with, conveyors are safe when used correctly.

Suggestions for areas to include in a Tool box Talk for staff and family members about Conveyors

Certain safety tips for all types of conveyor belts should always be observed:

  • Don't attempt to operate a conveyor unless you've been checked out on the procedures and are authorized to run it;
  • Show staff working on or about a conveyor the location and operation of stopping devices and control locks;
  • Do not crawl under, over or on a safety belt that is in operation. Turn off the power prior to doing so to perform maintenance and cleaning; and
  • Set an inspect schedule for barrier guards, moving parts and pinch points.

Tips for setting a safe working environment for a "powered" conveyor. Instruct staff to:

  • Position themselves so that they are not hit by objects moving down the conveyor; and
  • Ensure that they can see the conveyor system at all times when they are at the operating controls.

Set up your conveyor for safe use:

  • Locate guardrails around low level conveyors and areas where conveyors pass through the floor/ceiling;
  • Locate emergency power stop switches near the operator(s) and along the length of the conveyor at approximately 30 metres (100 feet) apart (or closer);
  • Ground belts on belt conveyors to prevent static buildup; and
  • Ensure that guards, covers and guardrails are in place for all moving parts of the drive system where hazards such as drawing-in, trapping and crushing, friction burns or abrasion are present.

Each conveyer system will have its own areas of possible safety issues. Be sure to walk through these areas thoroughly with each team member working in and around the conveyer system area.

First Aid Awareness


First aid is emergency care given immediately to an injured person. The purpose of first aid is to minimize injury and future disability. first aid kit In serious cases, first aid may be necessary to keep the victim alive.

Remember the first aid equipment and training requirements in all Canadian jurisdictions depends on:

  • The number of employees;
  • The types of hazards present in the workplace; and
  • The travel distance to a hospital/availability of professional medical assistance

In addition, each jurisdiction will have specific requirements for reporting injuries (types, length of time to report to compensation board, details that need to be reported, etc.).

Suggestions for areas to include in a Tool box Talk for staff and family members about First Aid Awareness

Remind staff and family members that only those trained in first aid should assist a victim. Never give first aid treatment for which they are not trained.

As part of the talk, discuss how to respond during an injury or illness situation. In terms of first aid, they should know:

  • Location of first aid room and/or first aid kit/ equipment, list of first aid attendant’s information that list emergency contacts, (e.g., who to call for help, remain with the victim until first aid attendants arrive, etc ;
  • Location of a list of the organization's key personnel by name, title and telephone numbers that are prioritized by "call first, call second, etc."; and
  • Procedures to be followed when first aid is required (including what types of injuries should be reported).

Talk about some simple objectives when providing First Aid to an injured person until professional help arrives:

  • Make sure you and the victim are not in any danger;
  • Maintain individual breathing;
  • Maintain blood circulation;
  • Prevent continued loss of blood; and
  • Prevent or treat for shock.

A helpful tool is to download the First Aid app from Canadian Red Cross. In the event someone isn’t trained this app is designed to help learn, prepare and respond to various first aid emergencies.

Heavy Equipment 


Heavy equipment can be dangerous and cause injury when not properly operated or maintained. truck roll over

Suggestions for areas to include in a Tool box Talk for staff and family members about the use of heavy equipment.

General Operating Precautions should always be observed, as well as the following:

  • Maintain machines in good working order. All vital parts such a should be thoroughly inspected each day;
  • Before using the starting motor, check to make sure that all operating controls are in the neutral position;
  • Operate at safe speeds and in a manner consistent with conditions;
  • Equipment should never be left unattended with the motor is running;
  • If possible, equipment should be driven entirely off the road at night;
  • When any portion of a machine projects into the road, it should be adequately marked with red lights or flares. Red flags should be used in daytime;
  • Stop motors and refrain from smoking and using cellphones during refueling operations;
  • Keep deck plates or steps on equipment free from grease, oil, ice and mud. Corded soles shoes are recommended;
  • Other than the operator, no one should ride on equipment; and
  • Restrain from wearing loose clothing, which can get caught in moving parts of equipment.

Injuries often happen when, so use precautions when:

  • Repairing and servicing equipment in dangerous positions;
  • Working around individuals or other vehicles and equipment;
  • Avoid unexpected violent tipping of the equipment by surveying ground;
  • Try and avoid unexpected violent shocks or jars to the machine by being aware of surroundings;
  • Watch out for limbs of trees or overhead obstructions, such as electrical wires; and
  • Don’t leave equipment in dangerous position while unattended.

Poultry Dust - Respiratory Disease Prevention. 


Poultry farming is a dusty business, and poultry workers are at higher risk of respiratory disease when compared to other famers. dust Periodically asses the risk from poultry dust.

As part of your emergency preparedness talks, raise the awareness of the importance of protecting from family and staff from poultry dust.  They should know what poultry dust is, how it is activated, what happens when you breathe it, and prevention methods.

Suggestions for Discussions:

What is poultry dust: It is an airborne organic dust including any biological agents arising from work activities on poultry farms. This includes feed, bedding material, bird droppings, feathers, dander, dust mites, moulds and endotoxins.

The activities that generate poultry dust in a barn:

  • Laying down bedding;
  • Populating poultry houses with young birds;
  • Litter/manure removal;
  • Catching poultry (depopulation); and
  • Cleaning poultry houses after depopulation (final clean).

What happens when you breathe it in: Poultry workers often have breathing problems at work such as: coughing, bringing up phlegm, shortness of breath, wheezing; and chest tightness.

Working with poultry dust commonly causes symptoms affecting the:

  • eyes (itching, watering or redness);
  • nose (sneezing, itching, runny or blocked nose);
  • throat discomfort; and/ or
  • flu-like symptoms with headache, fever and muscle aches.

Encourage family and staff to avoid respiratory disease and to visit their doctor for advice and treatment if needed.

Ensure appropriate mask safety equipment is available, that it fits appropriately, and that staff have knowledge of how to use it and when to replace filters etc.

Prevention: It is much better to prevent respiratory disease by using good working practices.

Provide Training In Protect airways

How to check the fit of the RPE before use;

    • How to wear the correct Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) for the job (e.g. dust masks; air-fed hoods, visors, helmets etc.);
    • Remind they not to remove the RPE during the work activity; and
    • Discuss how facial hair affects the performance of close-fitting respirators, so faces should be clean shaven for the best performance.

Note if you use RPE which relies on a good face seal to be effective (e.g. disposable dust masks, half and full-face masks), then your respirator must be face-fit tested.

iconShort-Term Operational Plan


There could be a variety of reasons why the farm’s main decision-maker is unable to make decisions. This person could be laid up for weeks and someone needs to step in and know how the farm operates. The PIC’s My Farm resource tool can help. 

Suggestions to include in a Tool box Talk for key back up staff and family members about the use of My Farm App and the farm’s Short-Term Operational Plans:

My Farm App, consider including how to access information and utilise the following:

  • Farm contacts and information;
  • Business and financial information;
  • Staff and payroll;
  • Response procedures for:
    • Poultry Disease(s);
    • Deadstock Mass Mortalities and Depopulation;
    • Severe weather, fire, power outages, structural collapse and hazardous material spills and other natural and man-made disasters;
    • General Emergencies and personal injuries; and
  • OSHA and other regulatory requirements.


Consider including specific:

Farm Information: Contact information for family, staff, first aid providers, where to locate emergency equipment on the farm, local emergency services, meeting sites, farm site map, an inventory of hazardous materials on hand, and an emergency action plan.

Barn Information: Contact information for Veterinarian, Marketing Board representative, transporter, feed supplier, deadstock removal (Hatchery /egg grader/catching) and barn management plan.

Livestock information. Provide animal inventory, including number of head and location. Explain feeding practices, watering schedules and delivery / stocking / catching schedules. Share animal welfare and bio-security procedures.

Equipment information.  List of inventory/equipment used in daily operations and, more importantly, the location of equipment.  Include equipment representatives and preferred mechanics. Share list of trained family members and staff who are qualified in the safe use of specific equipment.

General information.  Financial information such as bank accounts and loans, payroll and farm advisers such as attorneys.  Extension specialists and insurance contacts. It also should include rental agreements with landlord name and contact information.

Remember most importantly, talk about how to:

Assess farm information

Document information in your absence

Communicate and activate the plan with others

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