Your co-worker’s space heater catches fire. What do you do? Where is the closest fire extinguisher? Is it labeled A, B or C? All three? Do you even know what that means?

Are you supposed to hit the fire alarm and evacuate, or should you fight the fire? What’s your company’s policy? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, do you think your employees do?

It’s funny how you can walk by the fire extinguisher multiple times every day and not notice it. Writing this post reminded me to remind my own employees. I sent a note on our instant messaging app, and it triggered a lively conversation with memes and gifs. Everyone in both of our offices was reminded of the location and rating of our office fire extinguishers and were encouraged to re-watch our course on how to use them. The conversation quickly moved into other office safety topics.

Safety training isn’t just for warehouse, maintenance and construction employees. Topics such as fire extinguisher safety apply to everyone. Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Slips, Trips and Falls

According to Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety’s 2014 Workplace Safety Index, the second-highest cause of workplace injuries is falls from the same level. The research institute examined claims data for injuries lasting six or more days and ranked the injuries by total workers’ compensation costs. They were not limited to construction, factory or warehouse workers and did not include injuries lasting less than six days.

We’ve all seen how office clutter can accumulate, even in the short term. Boxes piled up near the recycling bin, deliveries at the front desk awaiting their owners, a videographer’s equipment cases gathered for the next photoshoot … It’s all too easy for distracted employees walking with their heads down in their phones to trip and fall.

Distracted Driving

Have you ever arrived at work and forgotten your full commute? It’s easy to sink into auto-pilot when you repeat the same route every day, distracted by your to-do list or kid’s sports schedule. The obvious distraction you see on the road every day is the swerving driver looking down at his or her mobile phone. A text or Facebook post can’t be more important than the two-ton heavy machinery someone is driving.

Distracted driving is defined as any non-driving activity that has the potential to distract the person from the primary task of driving and increases the risk of crashing. It reportedly accounts for 25 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities. Distracted driving is also preventable.

Training on distracted driving is important for all employees. Yes, it’s important for traveling salespeople, campus maintenance workers and truck drivers. But employers want all of their employees to travel to and from work safely. Training could literally save lives.

Employees and Managers

Training can be more effective when it is customized for the different roles employees and managers have in these safety situations. Target your audience with a custom message, and offer them just the right amount of content. Engagement will improve when employees don’t have to guess which content applies to them. They won’t have to sit through training that does not apply to them if the content for employees and managers is separated.

Managers require training on their specific roles. They set the culture and lead by example. They can cover safety topics in their company update meetings and in day-to-day conversation. In an emergency situation, such as a fire, employees will look to the manager for direction and assistance. The manager version of safety training can support this goal.

Personal and Professional Growth

Safety topics are perfect examples of how companies can provide employee training that supports both their work and home lives. Maybe the fire extinguisher training at work sparks a conversation at home about safety, or distracted driving statistics and tips are shared with new teen drivers at home.

We take safety for granted. It seems to be the most important issue when there’s an incident, but when there’s no incident, we don’t think about it. Nobody comes to work thinking they’re going to fall down the stairs and break their leg because they were looking at their phone instead of looking at where they were going. Safety training can’t be a one-time annual event for specific people in specific positions. It applies to all employees, no matter their role. In honor of National Safety Month, I encourage you to keep all of your employees safe.

Editor’s note: This article was updated in 2020 to replace a broken link to the distracted driving statistic.