Safety training is not the highlight of most people's work week, but having a team that is familiar with your safety procedures is critical when it comes to staying clear of Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations and minimizing hazards to your employees. In fact, it could even save someone's life. That's why safety team-building games can provide a great way to help reinforce this important knowledge in a fun way that won't result in a bunch of eye rolls and blank stares.
People remember things more effectively when they have a catchy song with which to sing along, and that is even more true when it's a song they created. That is why it can be so effective to ask your employees to come up with their own safety songs. Remind them that they don't need to be musical virtuosos. They can just rewrite the lyrics of a pop song if they want as long as they sing about safety.
Break your employees into teams and then give them a situation about which to write a song that includes instructions on how to handle that emergency. You can even offer a gift card, cash, a chance to leave work early or other incentive to the team that creates the best song in order to push them to do their best. Remember not to judge them by their musical talents but rather by the lyrics and the message.
Break your group into at least two teams and then challenge them to a series of safety games for the workplace environment where they spend the most time. Set up stations and have a safety drill at each station. Give tokens or mark off a progress sheet for each team after they complete the task for each station. The team that completes all the tasks at each safety station in the least amount of time wins.
For example, most employees in most work environments can complete the following:
- Fill out an incident report based on an imagined accident scenario.
- Instruct the team to identify all the supplies in a first-aid kit and when they would be used.
- Demonstrate how to safely place an extension cord to avoid trips and falls.
- Locate the emergency power supply to turn off the power to the building.
- Show the proper emergency exit routes from their seating area.
- Detail what to do in the event of a fire, earthquake, tornado or other natural disaster.
Also be sure to include some industry-specific challenges in your work station game. To get your ideas flowing when considering the best safety games for your work, here are some examples:
- Challenge a warehouse team to show the proper lifting techniques by lifting a box onto a shelf, and then have them show how to reach an item on a shelf that is out of reach.
- Have a lab team rush to put on their hazmat suits, properly dispose of hazardous materials and visit the eye wash station.
- Ask your construction team to put on their gloves and ventilators, demonstrate the proper technique for starting heavy machinery and show how to get in touch with a supervisor who is not at the job site.
- Instruct restaurant employees to demonstrate how to safely store knives and how to clean broken glassware.
Everyone is familiar with charades, and this version is largely the same, only the topics are safety-focused. Use words or phrases such as "seat belt," "emergency exit" or "safety goggles must be worn at all times." To play a safety charades game, divide your group into two teams and then have them take turns acting out different topics. Just like in regular charades, the person acting out the clues cannot talk but can give hints like "rhymes with" by pulling on his ear or "three syllables" by tapping on his arm with three fingers.
Give each team a set time to guess the clue, whether 30 seconds or a minute. Each properly guessed clue is worth one point, and the team with the most points after a set number of rounds wins, or you can play until one team gets a set amount of points instead.
It seems you can't have a safety training seminar without a role playing session – and for good reason. This safety-training technique forces employees to consider how they would respond to an emergency situation in a safe, positive and educational environment. Give your employees a scenario like a fire in the break room, a co-worker collapsing to the floor or an earthquake. Then, ask a number of employees to act out what they would do in that situation.
Create enough scenarios ahead of time that all of your employees will get a chance to role play in at least one situation. You can fill in or ask for volunteers to act in scenarios more than once if you need an extra participant here and there. Remember that you can critique them or correct them if they do not follow safety procedures, but try to be supportive because some emergencies require a lot of safety procedure steps, and some employees get nervous and flustered while performing in front of people.
Also, remember to keep your safety role playing safe. Remind employees that CPR is best practiced on dummies, and most first-aid supplies should stay in their containers so they can remain sanitary until they are actually needed.
Safety-training games can last beyond a one-time seminar. To keep your employees actively thinking about safety, consider long-term safety game ideas like the safety memory lottery. For this game, first decide on an incentive to get your employees fired up to think about safety all week long. Incentives could be the chance to leave early on a given Friday, a paid lunch, a gift card or anything else that gets people motivated.
Then, post a safety slogan or company safety rule on the company bulletin board on Monday morning. Tell employees they have until Friday to remember the slogan or rule. Remove it on Friday morning and then quiz employees randomly throughout Friday to see who remembers it. Anyone who gets the right answer gets a lottery ticket, and at the end of the day, a winner's name is chosen from a hat or bowl for the big prize.
Alternatively, you could post a safety slogan or rule every day at the beginning of the day and remove it by noon, quizzing employees after lunch. You could also make it even more challenging and urge employees to remember all the rules from the employee handbook and quiz them on random rules from the handbook throughout the week or month.