It is no secret that employee safety training is a crucial aspect of operating a business. However, some safety training protocols are more effective than others. Every safety training program must encompass a wide range of relevant topics to protect customers and employees effectively and equip the latter with valuable skills and knowledge.
A workplace safety training program should be paired with an effective system of delivery and important, actionable materials to meet a business’s needs. Aim to meet the following objectives:
- Understand and meet the needs of staff members. Safety training must consider the employees it is targeting, as information that is not specific and useful will prove ineffective and unusable. Customize training plans according to the needs of the company and each team’s current skill set.
- Hold staff accountable. Managers, owners, employees and interns alike should all be held to the same standards of safety for best results. Upper management needs to set a good example by modeling good safety practices from the top of the hierarchy down.
- Offer relevant, applicable skills. Some workplace safety training programs are only necessary for certain employees, but others will apply to all staff members. The time and resources spent on training should target groups of employees to provide the tools they need to complete their jobs efficiently and safely.
- Remain adaptive and flexible. Gone are the days of tedious, 300-page safety manuals that staff will never get around to reading. Effective safety training needs to be agile, flexible and immediately useful to the team. Consider adding on-the-job microlearning opportunities into the program to ensure that staff have what they need to get their jobs done.
The 9 Essential Topics of Workplace Safety
1. Ergonomics in the Workplace
Ergonomics are important, regardless of whether employees work in a plush office environment or on a hazardous construction site. Ergonomic workplace injuries can cost businesses significant sums of money in losses of productivity and employee compensation claims.
One-third of all injuries in the workplace are categorized as ergonomic. The most common afflictions are lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and shoulder injuries, tendonitis, and tennis elbow. These and other ergonomic injuries place a cost burden of $20 billion on employers across the U.S. annually.
Ergonomic safety training is a necessary tool to avoid costly incidents and keep all employees safe. Training should cover how to sit, move and lift heavy objects on the job in a way that protects employees from harm. Proper training will lead to lower absenteeism rates, lower healthcare costs and happier, healthier staff.
2. Employee Health
All employers should provide their staff with employee resources for mental and physical health and overall well-being. Modern employers must support their staff in their everyday challenges, both on the job and at home.
Resources to share include mental health policies, incentives for physical activity and healthy eating, and even company physical fundraising challenges to keep them active. Incorporate incentives and benefits into the recruitment processes and employees will recognize a business that cares about their health and longevity.
3. Violence Prevention
Statistics show assaults are the second leading cause of workplace related deaths, after motor accidents. In 2019 alone there were 454 fatalities caused by workplace violence. According to the FBI’s first study on the subject between 2000 and 2013, over 80% of active shooter incidents took place at work. In a follow-up 2019 report that spanned 10 years of study, the FBI revealed that 29% of shooting incidents had occurred in businesses open to the public.
Domestic violence is also an issue that needs to be addressed. There have been many instances of women being murdered in the workplace by their abusers. Domestic violence is not limited to the home.
Employee safety training should cover strategies for preventing workplace violence and recognizing the signs of potential workplace and domestic violence.
4. Equipment Use and Safety
It is essential to teach employees how to use job-specific equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) safely. Not every employee will know exactly how to use a specific piece of equipment in a way that minimizes their risk of injury.
A company’s preferred equipment training procedures will depend on the industry it operates in. Consider every machine and piece of equipment staff members use regularly and remember to cover the PPE that must be used while working with them.
5. Environmental Safety Training
Every employee should be instructed on how to respect the planet and its natural resources. Environmental training can differ from industry to industry, but some effective topics include:
- Electrical safety
- Office safety
- Water and power saving strategies
- Recycling and waste management strategies
- Smart use of office equipment
- Hazardous material and biohazard storage, use and disposal.
6. Fire Safety Training
It is dangerous to assume that all employees fully understand fire safety. New staff training should always include the steps employees must take in the event of a fire. It may be necessary to teach staff how to use fire extinguishers and perform basic first aid, such as burn and wound treatment or CPR.
It is also important to teach staff about the precautions they need to take in case of a fire. Whether this means locking documents in a fire resistant safe or never leaving specific equipment unattended, it’s essential that they are aware of what actions they need to take.
7. Cybersecurity and Safety Online
Technology has become an intrinsic and inseparable part of how workplaces operate, regardless of industry or sector. Most workplace communication happens online, so it’s critical that employees are equipped with up-to-date knowledge of cybersecurity and staying safe online.
Online safety training should protect not only employees, but company’s critical data and customers as well. Instructing employees on how to follow HIPAA guidelines for protecting health information online, how to craft secure passwords, and how to set up two-step verification, along with any other key processes will keep them and the company safe from cyberattacks.
8. Proactive Data Backups
Backups are a last line of defense against unavoidable data loss. If employees are trained to back up their work data, it can save them from losing months’, or even years’ worth of work.
Instruct staff on putting the right backup systems and cloud storage facilities in place to back up and store their work regularly.
9. Data Encryption
Data can be stolen regardless of how careful employees are. Therefore, it is important to be proactive and train them to protect all their work and personal data using encryption.
Remember, while many cloud storage providers claim to encrypt data, it is best to encrypt information before it reaches the cloud to ensure that it does not fall into the wrong hands.
Safety training is the key to maintaining efficient workflows and ensuring the safety and satisfaction of staff at the same time. Ensure that training procedures are relevant to each employee’s job, level of skill and to industry for best results!