Toolbox Talks: A human performance post-job review of Memorial Day


Memorial Day is an important holiday in America. It is a day for us to remember those who have fallen in the service of our country. It also serves as the unofficial kick-off of summer.

In the lead up to Memorial Day, you no doubt saw news reports and Facebook posts asking us to consider potential holiday dangers as we celebrate with our family and friends. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead for safe and efficient celebrations, but we are seldom asked “How did it do? Any areas for improvement?”

We thought it might be useful to do a post-job review using the REMEDY human performance method of TOAST (Traps, Organizational Weaknesses, Additions, Simplify, and Tools), since human performance can be used everywhere.

Traps not identified: Any number of traps could be present over a long holiday weekend. Did we fall into the trap of time pressure after losing some time to holiday traffic? Was peer pressure at work as you tried to outdrink your bragging brother-in-law? How about the trap of multitasking? Did we try to run the grilling operation AND watch the little ones as they took to their first swim of the season?

Organizational or system issues (LOWs): Are the coolers or refrigerators able to keep the unprepared food at a safe temperature? Did we check the condition of grill and propane well before it was time to cook in case repairs or replacements were needed?

Additional equipment, resources or error defenses that would have improved performance: Were the tongs and spatula available on the beach or did we have to improvise? Did we take advantage of services like Uber to help some of friends make it home safely?

Simplify the process: Did we encourage good food handling and preparation by making hand wash and sanitary wipes readily available? Was sunscreen or bug spray handy so it could be easily applied throughout the day?

Tools not used that could have improved job performance: Did we have the right equipment to safely haul gear to and from the beach or campsite? Do we need to get a trailer hitch cargo trap or roof-rack so we don’t have to precariously strap items on top of the vehicle or stack them so high that the back window is blocked? Were we missing a first aid kit?

Let’s not forget our fallen heroes who fought to provide us with the opportunities we have today in America. Let’s also not forget that we will have several more opportunities to gather with family and friends this summer, so we need to capture the lessons learned from Memorial Day. Human Performance can be applied everywhere and now is a good time to use the HP Tool of Post-Job Review to ensure your upcoming Fourth of July gathering is a huge success.

Toolbox Talks offers quick insights and thoughts to use for your toolbox (tailboard) talks. Dave Sowers is a founding member of Knowledge Vine, a veteran-owned human performance training and consulting organization that strives to reduce the frequency and severity of human errors in the workplace. He has almost 30 years of experience in power generation and the utility industry. He is a veteran of U.S. Navy Nuclear Power Program and holds a bachelor’s degree in resources management and a master’s degree in both management and emergency management and homeland security.