If you’re planning safety at work training, it’s important to get the blend and balance right. For some industries, there’ll be explicit safety requirements that are mandated in law and heavily regulated. The food industry’s a good example of this. But there’s also a core portfolio of training courses that every business should provide.
To make sure you’re ticking off all of the essential safety topics for work, we’ve put together a checklist. And provided a bit of background to each one to help firm up your business case, and build your strategy.
10 safety topics for work
So, what should you include in your safety training toolkit? The following 10 courses cover the most essential and universal areas impacting businesses.
1. Slips, trips, and falls
A slip-up sounds minor. But slips, trips, and falls can be serious and even fatal. The main focus of this training is prevention.
By understanding how to identify potential hazards, employees are better placed to avoid them. Of course, accidents will happen. So it’s important that this type of training covers what the next steps are (pardon the pun.)
2. Using a handrail
Falling down the stairs is more common than you might think. Every year, over a million people are injured going up or down steps. And for 12,000 of those, the consequences are fatal.
Remembering to use the handrail at work may seem obvious. But without the right training, it’s a simple safety measure many of us don’t take. A good course will share statistics, practical tips on prevention, and ways to manage a fall if it does happen in the workplace.
3. Cable management
Despite advances in technology, cables are still a common feature in most workplaces. Whether it’s PCs, laptops, phones, or AV equipment, most of the electrical devices in an office need to be connected to a power source. Or another device. And the number of cables can easily add up, even if yours is a small workspace.
As well as being a trip hazard, cables are a fire risk if not properly organized. So the right training is essential for the overall safety of your organization.
However many risk assessments you do, every workplace has hazards. They come in different forms. For example, biological, physical, and chemical. And many of them aren’t obvious.
Training employees to recognize and report potential hazards doesn’t just help prevent accidents. It also helps to protect your business. Neglecting your responsibility to keep employees safe could lead to fines or even a custodial sentence.
5. Manual handling
Even if your employees work at a desk in an office, there are times when they’ll have to lift, move, or carry potentially heavy objects. Whether it’s a chair to a new desk, a monitor not positioned correctly, or a box of paper in the middle of a walkway. They’ll probably do it without noticing.
And that’s where the risk lies.
Because if they don’t get it right, they could seriously damage themselves. Giving employees guidance on the correct way to handle heavyweights reduces the risk of injury and accidents.
6. Workstation ergonomics
Most people spend around half of their day sitting down. That figure leaps to 15 hours for the average office worker. The problem is, if you sit at a desk for long periods, your body will start complaining. Being sedentary is linked to chronic illnesses and even an earlier death rate.
It’s important to include ergonomics in your safety at work topics, so your employees know how to set up their workstations correctly and minimize risk. “Correctly” will differ for each employee. The right training will give employees the knowledge and understanding to create a comfortable, ergonomic environment that’s right for them.
7. First aid
Medical professionals are, of course, the best people to treat illness or injury. But they’re unlikely to be on-hand when there’s an accident in the workplace.
Knowing what to do in an emergency to limit the damage, and provide immediate assistance, saves lives. First aid training empowers employees to act with confidence in potentially critical situations.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was limited to a few specialized industries. Now it’s commonplace in nearly all organizations.
Wearing the right PPE keeps your workers safer when exposed to certain workplace hazards. A relatively new addition to the portfolio of “Safety topics for work,” PPE training gives employees the knowledge they need to decide what PPE is required and when.
9. Reporting and record keeping
“Paperwork saves lives” sounds like an exaggeration. But it’s true.
Reporting hazards and workplace safety incidents helps employers highlight areas of concern. With the right information, businesses can build a case for change. And introduce permanent preventative measures to make the work environment safer. Training in this area is essential for gathering the evidence needed to improve workplace safety for all.
10. Mobile tech in the workplace
Digital devices are becoming increasingly mobile. Tablets, laptops, and wearable tech have all joined the realm of cell phones to give us the power to communicate on the go. There are huge benefits to this. But there are also risks.
With mobile tech, the temptation to multitask while moving around is high. And it’s this that can cause accidents.
With their focus distracted, employees who text while walking, for example, put themselves and others in danger. Running a course around this encourages employees to question a habit they’ve probably unconsciously developed. And this, in turn, can help drive a behavior shift and move toward a more mindfully safe workplace.
The alternative workspace: Keeping your remote workers safe, too
We’ve talked a lot about safety in the “workplace.” But let’s not forget that, for many employees, the workplace won’t necessarily be one of your corporate buildings. With the rise in remote and hybrid working, the “workplace” could be a home office, a cafe with wifi, a train, or even (if they’re lucky) a balcony overlooking the sea.
Those environments are, to a greater or lesser extent, out of your control. But you still have a duty of care to your remote employees. And your “Safety topics for work” program needs to be designed with this in mind.
Ergonomics training is the biggie. In fact, if you have a large number of distance workers, it’s worth providing an ergonomics course specifically for them.
Based outside the office, there are a unique set of ergonomic challenges your remote employees will face. And a tailor-made course addressing them will go a long way to keeping them safe.
For example, not only do workstations need to be properly configured, but they also need to be “fit-for-purpose” in the first place. Without the natural distractions and social interactions of an office environment, home workers also have a tendency to take fewer screen breaks. Which means sitting correctly is even more important. (A saggy armchair in a dark corner of a room won’t meet the criteria.)
Having the right technology is vital too. A laptop may be more practical because it’s easy for your employee to bring it into the office if needed. But having a PC set up at home will probably be better for their posture, vision, and comfort. Their electrical equipment also needs to be safe. Which means homeworkers need to be able to visually assess damage to sockets, plugs, or leads, and understand the protocol regarding overloaded extension cables.
Outside this, there are safety risks around lone working, which should be covered through training. Without any direct supervision, your remote employees need to know what to do if things go wrong. And how to ensure their lone working environment doesn’t make them vulnerable or put them at risk.
Finally, let’s not forget reporting. Working outside the office makes it harder for employees to decide if an incident is work-related and should be reported. Or if it’s non-related. For clarification and to reduce unnecessary paperwork, training around this subject area is a good investment,
Training in all of these areas supports effective self-assessment, which is so important to employees based outside the formal workplace. And it acknowledges that your “Safety topics for work” commitment applies equally to all employees, wherever they’re based.
A culture of care
Tackling safety in the workplace through effective and relevant training goes beyond simply being compliant and keeping employees safe.
It indicates a culture of care, which makes employees feel valued and protected. This, in turn, leads to higher productivity levels and, ultimately, a loyal team of people who want to stick around.
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