LOHP Tailgate Meeting Introduction

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Labor Occupational Health Program

Summary Statement

An overview page of the Labor Occupational Health Program Tailgate Meetings That Work. There are several collections on different topics in this program such as portable ladders and vehicles & heavy equipment.

These tailgate/toolbox talks were developed for use under California OSHA regulations. The complete set is available from the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley. For ordering information, visit the website (www.lohp.org) The American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has adapted these talks to apply to federal OSHA regulations. To contact ACGIH, visit its web site (www.acgih.org).


Project Coordination Team

    Robin Baker
    Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP), School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley
    Robert Downey
    Associated General Contractors (AGC) of California
    Mary Ruth Gross
    Center for Labor Research and Education, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California, Berkeley
    Charles Reiter
    State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO
Additional Writers
    Paula Babcock, LOHP
    Deborah Gold, LOHP
    Greg Raymond, The Cohen Group/ AGC of California
    Ralph Sbragia, AGC of California
    Frances Schreiberg, LOHP
    Michael Horowitz, Cal/OSHA
    Jerry Loften, Asbestos Workers Local 16
    Barry Lubovitsky, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO
    Iraj Pourmehraban, Cal/OSHA Consultation Service
    Scott Schneider, CPWR – Center for Construction Research and Training, AFL-CIO
    Charles (Dick) Steele, Kiewit Pacific
    Eric Svahn, Carpenters Local 713
    Health and Safety Commission, California Department of Industrial Relations
    Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office
    Eugene Darling, LOHP
Designer/Desktop Publisher
    Kate Oliver, LOHP
Cover Design
    Donna Golden, AGC of California
    University of California Printing Services


In California, tailgate safety training for workers in the construction industry has been required for many years. Too often the requirement is ignored altogether. Sometimes training is attempted, but it just isn’t effective.

Even conscientious employers who try to set up training programs can fall victim to:

  • Training on the wrong topic or at the wrong time. When a crew is pouring footings, why give them training on the hazards of paints and coatings?
  • Trainers and crews who lack interest and enthusiasm. Foremen and superintendents are construction professionals, not educators. Yet they are often responsible for tailgate training. They may feel unprepared, or they may feel that the training program gets in the way of the process of construction.
The result can be poor quality training that doesn’t hold the crew’s interest.

In creating the training program in this book, we have tried to provide tools that the foreman, superintendent, and workers can use—tools that tie training to the work actually being done, and that allow people who are not professional trainers to communicate effectively about safety. The training will raise workers’ awareness and invite them to become active players in keeping the job safe.

We have also tried to develop a program that links tailgate training directly to Cal/OSHA safety requirements. For each training topic included here, the foreman or superintendent is asked to inspect the site for related hazards before the training begins. Summaries of Cal/OSHA regulations are provided to guide the inspection. This process of information gathering should ensure that the material presented in the training session is specific to the particular job site. It will make the training “real” to the crew.

Cal/OSHA now requires each construction employer to have an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program, with tailgate training as a key component. By following the methodology of the training program in this book, an employer is complying with both the spirit and the letter of the law. Labor and management can work together to make safety an integral part of the process of construction, not just an “add-on” that gets in the way.

This program is the result of three years’ work. We held a dozen training sessions with construction workers, foremen, safety directors, union representatives, and others in the industry, seeking to find out what makes tailgate training effective. We feel strongly that the format we developed will be of tremendous value to the construction industry and its employees.

Robert Downey
Associated General Contractorsof California
Charles Reiter
State Building and Construction Trades
Council of California, AFL-CIO

How to Use These Materials

This document includes everything a construction industry foreman or trainer will need to hold
tailgate safety meetings on 28 important topics. Each meeting should be limited to a single topic, and will take from 20 to 30 minutes.

Choose your topic from the list in the Table of Contents. Make sure that the topic you choose
relates to the work your crew is doing (or will be doing soon).

After choosing your topic, follow these four steps:

1. Inspect the Job Site for Hazards (Using Checklist)

    For each topic, there is a Safety Walkaround Checklist. (See the Checklists section of this book; topics appear there in alphabetical order.)

    This training program is based on the idea that tailgate meetings need to address real safety problems workers currently face on the job site. You’ll want to have up-to-date information about conditions on the site. So it’s important for you or someone else in the company to do a “walkaround” safety inspection. Focus on hazards related to the topic you have chosen. Use the Checklist for that topic as your guide. Each Checklist summarizes Cal/OSHA regulations related to the topic, as well as additional safety rules. Fill out the Checklist as you walk around.

    Later, you will use information you have recorded on the Checklist to prepare for the safety meeting.

    Most Checklist items simply require that you make a check mark if your job site complies with the safety rule involved. Sometimes the Checklist asks you to write down specific information. (These places are marked with a small pencil like the one at the left.)

    The numbers in brackets after items on the Checklist refer to Cal/OSHA standards and other applicable regulations. They are there for your convenience. Most of the standards can be found in Cal/OSHA’s Construction Safety Orders. Some (with numbers over 3200) appear in Cal/OSHA’s General Industry Safety Orders but apply to the construction industry as well. The Cal/OSHA Guide for the Construction Industry, included in the pocket of this binder, gives more information about many of the Construction Safety Orders. Where a number in brackets refers to a regulation from an agency other than Cal/OSHA, that fact is noted.

    In each Checklist, there is also space in the right-hand column for your own notes, records of conditions that need to be corrected, etc.
2. Prepare for the Tailgate Meeting
    For each topic, there is also a Training Guide with a complete lesson plan. (See the Training Guides section of this book; topics appear there in alphabetical order.)

    You will need to spend from 15 to 20 minutes before the meeting becoming familiar with the Training Guide. Read it over. Make sure you understand all the terms used. If necessary, look up terms and concepts in the Glossary (found in the Reference Section at the end of this book).

    Fill in the blanks in the Training Guide. (These are marked with a small pencil like the one at the left.) You’ll need information from the Checklist completed earlier, as well as from your own knowledge of the job. Adding these details to the Training Guide helps make sure that the safety meeting deals with actual conditions on your own job site.

    Each Training Guide also asks you to write down any Company Rules related to your topic. In some cases, your company may have special safety rules in addition to Cal/OSHA requirements.

    Next, fill in the General Safety Discussion page of the Training Guide. This final portion of the tailgate meeting will not be limited to the day’s topic—it can deal with any safety issue of immediate concern to the company or the crew. To prepare for this part of the meeting, answer the questions on this page about hazards resulting from the work of other crews on the site, recent accidents, “near misses,” and any safety complaints.

    Finally, think about how to begin the meeting. You need something that will spark the crew’s interest. You may want to talk about a recent accident related to your topic, an incident from your own life (either on or off the job), or some common myth.
3. Hold the Meeting
    Throughout each Training Guide you will find frequent instructions directed to you as
    the trainer. They will help you stay on track. These trainer instructions always appear in italics (like this).

    To begin the meeting: Tell the crew what the day’s topic will be. Then read aloud the
    opening section in the Training Guide, adding ideas and stories from your own experience. Tell the crew where the hazard you’re discussing can be found at this particular job site.

    In sequence, ask the numbered discussion questions in the Training Guide (in the section headed Ask The Crew These Questions). After you ask each question, allow time for the crew to think about it, and then call on volunteers to answer. After crew members have given their answers, discuss them, and use the information following the question in the Training Guide to add any points that the crew missed.

    Encourage the crew to speak. Always wait for their answers. Make sure that the crew feels what they have to say will be heard with respect. Never make fun of anyone. For ideas on how to encourage participation, see the Tips for Trainers and How to Handle Discussion Problems sections later in this book.

    Be sure to leave enough time to get to the General Safety Discussion at the end of
    the Training Guide you’re using. This is where you can cover safety issues not related to the day’s topic, such as current conditions on the site, problems that were raised at past meetings, recent accidents, and complaints that have come up since the last safety meeting. Also use this time to encourage crew members to contact you at once about any safety issues or hazards they become aware of at work.

    Use your company’s hazard report form (or the sample Hazard Report Form provided in the Reference Section of this binder) to document any hazards that crew members report to you.

    • Make a plan for correcting any hazards that are under your control. Assign the work. Write down any action you took, and report on it at the next safety meeting.
    • If any of the hazards are outside your control, report them immediately to a supervisor. The supervisor should inform the general contractor or sub-contractor involved, who should correct them. Follow up to see what action was taken, and report on it at the next safety meeting.
4. Document and Sign Off
    To conclude the meeting, you may want to ask the crew for feedback. Did they understand the material? Was it well presented? Was it helpful and relevant?

    Next, have each crew member sign the Sign-Off Form on the back page of the Training Guide. This will allow you to keep good records of who has been trained, and on which topics.

    At this point, you may want to assign a crew member (or members) to help with the next safety meeting. Involve this crew member in choosing the next topic, and take him or her with you when you do your next “walkaround” safety inspection. You might also ask the person to help lead the next meeting.

    Finally, file the Safety Walkaround Checklist, the Training Guide, the Hazard Report Form, the Sign-Off Form, and any other materials you have used, according to your company’s policy.

How Effective are Your Safety Meetings?

California law requires employers to hold regular tailgate safety meetings for construction workers. But running effective tailgate meetings can be a challenge. It takes preparation and a real desire to involve your crew in health and safety. Use this checklist to rate your skills as a trainer—how effective are your tailgate meetings?

  • ARE YOUR SAFETY TOPICS RELEVANT? Do they relate to the work the crew is doing?
  • ARE YOU WELL PREPARED? Before each safety meeting do you:

    • Inspect the job site for hazards related to your topic? (Use the Safety Walkaround Checklist.)
    • Read over the material you plan to cover? (See the Training Guide for your topic.)
    • Look up any terms or concepts you don't understand? (Use the Glossary.)
    • Make sure you are familiar with any laws, regulations, and company rules related to the day's topic?
    • Review reports of recent accidents on the site, including "near misses"?


    • Begin with a real-life example, or with information that will capture people's interest?
    • Encourage full participation by the crew throughout the meeting (while still keeping it focused on the topic)?
    • Invite the crew to ask questions and make suggestions related to the topic?
    • Respond to questions that you can answer, and offer to find answers you don't know?
    • Allow time at the end of the meeting for questions and suggestions on any safety issue?
    • Ask the crew for feedback about the meeting?
    • Involve the crew in preparing for and/or leading future safety meetings?


    • Look into complaints, concerns, and suggestions that the crew brought up?
    • Report back later to let the crew know what will be done?
    • Keep good records of each tailgate meeting and other safety matters?


    • Set an excellent safety example yourself?
    • Invite crew members to come to you anytime with safety problems and suggestions?
    • Encourage and reward safe work practices?

Tips for Trainers : Getting the Crew Involved

Tailgate safety meetings work best if the whole crew actively participates. Here are some ways to encourage everyone to get involved.

  • ASK QUESTIONS INSTEAD OF LECTURING. During the meeting, introduce each new point you want to make by asking the crew a question. After you ask each question, wait a short time to let people think. Then call on volunteers to answer. Use the answers as a springboard for discussion. Don’t just read the answers!
  • ASK ABOUT PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. If you ask a question and no one has an answer, rephrase the question. It may be too abstract. Try to make it more direct and personal. Ask if someone has had any personal experience that can help the group figure out an answer.

    For example, suppose no one can answer the question, “What are the health effects of
    breathing asbestos?” You could try to make the question more personal by asking, “Have you ever known anyone who got sick from working with asbestos? What kind of illness did they have?”
  • LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF TIME ANY ONE PERSON CAN TALK. If a crew member is talking too much, invite someone else to speak. Do it tactfully. For example, wait until the person takes a breath, quickly say "thank you," and then move along.
  • NEVER MAKE FUN OF ANYONE or put anyone down, especially for asking questions.
  • DON’T FAKE IT. If someone has a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t guess or fake an answer. Write the question down. Promise that you will get back to the person, and then make sure you do.
  • STICK TO THE TOPIC. If the crew's questions and comments move too far from the topic, tell them that their concerns can be addressed later—either in private conversation or in an upcoming safety meeting. (This will also give you ideas for future meeting topics.)

Injury and Illness Prevention Programs

Cal/OSHA requires every employer (including those in construction) to set up an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). Tailgate safety training for workers is an integral part of an IIPP. Below are excerpts from Construction Safety Order §1509, which specifies IIPP requirements in the construction industry. The chart on the next page shows what an IIPP must include.

§1509 Injury and Illness Prevention Program

    (a) Every employer shall establish, implement and maintain an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
    (b) Every employer shall adopt a written Code of Safe Practices which relates to the employer's operations.
    (c) The Code of Safe Practices shall be posted at a conspicuous location at each job site office or be provided to each supervisory employee who shall have it readily available.
    (d) Periodic meetings of supervisory employees shall be held under the direction of management for the discussion of safety problems and accidents that have occurred.
    (e) Supervisory employees shall conduct "toolbox" or "tailgate" safety meetings, or equivalent, with their crews at least every 10 working days to emphasize safety.
Title 8, California Code of Regulations
A written plan,
with a
person” named.
safety rules.

A system of
regular safety
workers to report
(such as a joint
committee and/or
daily safety
check-ins by

(including regular
site inspections)
for identifying
and correcting
hazards in a
timely manner.

  • General instruction for all employees
    in how to work

  • Specifictraining
    (such as hazard
    hazardous waste, etc.).

  • Training for
Posted code of
safe work

“Tailgate” or
safety meetings
held at least
every 10
working days.
meetings with
to review
safety issues.

An IIPP in the construction industry must meet all Cal/OSHA requirements for a general industry
IIPP and extra requirements specific to construction. In this chart, the top two rows show what
must be included in all IIPPs (General Industry Safety Order §3203). The shaded row at the
bottom shows added features required in construction IIPPs (Construction Safety Order §1509).