Maintaining a safe working environment is about more than lowering corporate insurance rates and awarding prizes for the number of days gone by without an accident. It’s about saving lives. According to the US Department of Labor, 4,551 workers died on the job in 2009. Many of those deaths occurred in occupations that are not considered “dangerous” to the average person, such as assembly line worker or groundskeeper. Periodic safety briefings can help lower workplace accidents and save lives.
Basic Workplace Safety
While certain safety topics can be geared toward particular workers, basic workplace safety applies to everyone. Discuss company policy regarding reporting for work after a disaster. Explain where to find Material Safety Data Sheets for common workplace chemicals. Demonstrate safe operation of fire extinguishers. Have coworkers go on a scavenger hunt to locate safety-related devices such as first aid kits, automatic external defibrillators, Material Safety Data Sheet books or fire extinguishers.
Working in an office poses unique safety challenges. Safety briefings can cover the office evacuation plan in case of fire or other emergency. Discuss how to call the fire department or other emergency responders, especially if your community does not use 9-1-1 or if your telephone system requires workers to dial an outside line before dialing the telephone number. Topics covering ergonomic posture or ways to reduce repetitive motion injuries are also relevant for office safety briefings.
Weather Related Safety Topics
Summertime safety briefings can include ideas for staying hydrated in the sun, how to prevent skin cancer or heat stroke, or whether or not shorts or other casual attire is permitted. In the winter discuss methods for driving in rain or snow, how to install tire chains, and how to recognize the signs of hypothermia. Additional weather related topics include company policy for reporting for work during a blizzard or severe storm, what does heat exhaustion look like, and the proper use of equipment during a thunderstorm.
Equipment accidents account for more than 60 percent of all industrial accidents. Safety meetings highlighting proper operation of commonly used equipment can reduce this statistic. Topics range from mandatory wearing of personal protective equipment — such as gloves and goggles — to specialized training in operating complex equipment including chainsaws or forklifts. Other topics can focus on proper ways to service equipment and company policies related to the number of workers required to operate heavy machinery.
Stephanie Tallman Smith is a lifestyles, business and real estate writer with over 20 years experience as a government analyst. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in management from Kaplan University and advanced certifications in public speaking, large group training and facilitation. Able to write about diverse subjects, Smith also writes extensively about family issues and home improvement.