Employee safety training: it’s critical, but what makes a training program go from mundane to one that actually saves lives and reduces injury in your workplace? How can your managers ensure that all employees know these important safety training topics and practice them throughout their day? Whether you build a full safety training program, or message out daily safety reminders, this comprehensive guide covers the major workplace safety topics to cover, and how to develop a comprehensive employee safety training program.
⭐To help, we’ve created FREE lessons and courses you can share with your employees on key safety training topics, like fire or ladder safety. Find them throughout this post!
What are the best safety topics to cover?
Effective workplace safety training helps to prevent accidents, injuries, and illnesses by increasing your employees’ awareness of potential hazards and how to avoid them. It also ensures that employees have the knowledge and skills to respond appropriately to emergencies and to use necessary safety equipment.
Start here 👉 These are the most important workplace safety topics you should add to your employee safety training program or reminders:
- Workplace ergonomics
- Safe lifting techniques
- Workplace violence prevention
- Fire safety
- Employee health resources
- Fall protection and ladder safety
- Environmental and chemical safety
- Proper use of equipment and PPE
- Food handling and preparation
- Online safety and cybersecurity
- Heat safety
- Emergency evacuation procedures
- First aid and CPR training
- Respiratory protection and air quality monitoring
- Hearing conservation training
Of course, the specific safety topics you’ll eventually cover will depend on the nature of your workplace and the hazards your employees face on the job. A truly safety-first workforce also depends on engaging with your employees in this process, and ensuring managers and other leaders are prioritizing safety to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.
1. Workplace ergonomics
Maybe your employees work in a cushy office with windows that don’t open and climate controlled conditions. What could possibly go wrong?
While it’s true that the risks of injury while working in an office are dwarfed when compared to those when working on an oil rig or a construction site, ergonomic workplace injuries can cost your company real money in workman’s compensation claims and loss of productivity.
OSHA estimates that ergonomic injuries have a total annual cost between 45 and 50 billion dollars per year, with direct costs being approximately half of those numbers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that ergonomics related injuries made up 34% of all workplace injuries in 2012. Ergonomic workplace safety training, although not fancy or exciting, may be the best investment your company makes.
Teach employees how to lift, sit, and move throughout their day so you can be rewarded with fewer sick days, lowered healthcare costs, and happier employees.
👉 Learn more: Find our full guide on creating effective ergonomics training here.
2. Safe lifting techniques
Many workplace injuries are caused by improper lifting techniques. Safe lifting training is important to reduce the risk of these types of injuries and keep your employees safe.
Safe lifting techniques are crucial for preventing injuries in the workplace. In a safe lifting training program, employees may learn:
- Proper lifting techniques, such as bending your knees and using your legs to lift instead of your back
- How to assess the weight of an object and determine if you need assistance or equipment to lift it
- How to properly use lifting aids, such as carts or dollies
⭐ Free course! Give your employees a quick resource for getting started by accessing our FREE safe lifting training course here. Or, learn more about creating a safe lifting program in our full guide!
3. Workplace violence prevention
Federal agencies found that from 1992 to 2019, almost 18,000 people were killed at work, on duty, or in work-related violent incidents. In addition, 1.3 million nonfatal workplace violence victimizations occurred from 2015 to 2019.
The statistics on domestic violence that seeps into the workplace are sobering as well. Women in the workplace are overwhelmingly the target of this type of workplace violence. A study of domestic violence survivors found that fully 74% of them were harassed or attacked in the workplace. Homicide is also a leading cause of death for women at work.
Employee safety training must include strategies for workplace violence prevention, including recognizing the risk factors and signs of potential workplace and domestic violence that spreads to the workplace. This can literally save your employees’ lives. Find our full guide for developing violence prevention training here.
4. Fire safety
We take for granted that our adult employees understand fire safety, but it’s an important (and OSHA-required) part of every industry.
New employee safety training must cover employee egress in the event of a fire. Many employers do not want employees fighting fires, but your employers must know how to stay safe and report an incident. Some industries may also train employees in the use of fire extinguishers.
⭐ Free course! Give your employees a refresher on the basics of fire safety by accessing our FREE fire safety training course here. Find our full fire safety guide here.
5. Employee health resources
Of all the safety topics for office workers, clearly outlining available employee resources for mental and physical health and well-being may be the most proactive step you can take.
It used to be that employee resources consisted of a few pamphlets in the HR department about mental health and substance abuse, with maybe a brief training on being healthy. These days, employers are recognizing the importance of supporting employees in all of the challenges they face, both on and off the job.
If your company has an outstanding mental health support policy, share it with them. Maybe you offer incentives for exercise or include employees in physical fundraising challenges like Race for the Cure.
Make these benefits a part of your recruitment strategy and your employees will recognize you as a company that cares. Employees who feel valued will work harder, stay longer, and be more productive for your company.
👉 Learn more: Find our full guide on creating a mental health training program here.
6. Fall protection and ladder safety
Falls are a common cause of workplace injuries and fatalities, so it's important to learn about fall protection and ladder safety. What should you include in this type of safety training for employees?
- Proper use of fall protection equipment, such as harnesses and lifelines
- Identifying fall hazards and developing a plan to eliminate or control them
- Inspecting and maintaining ladders to ensure they are safe to use
Falls are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries and fatalities. Fall protection, operating at great heights, and ladder safety training are important topics for preventing these types of accidents and keeping your employees safe.
⭐ Free course! Make sure your employees know how to use ladders appropriately. Find our FREE ladder safety training course here, or learn more about creating a full ladder safety program.
7. Environmental and chemical safety
According to OSHA, over 190,000 workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals each year, and 50,000 deaths related to chemical exposure. Environmental and chemical safety training is crucial to prevent exposure and keep employees safe.
While environmental safety topics may include electrical or general office safety, chemical safety training for employees includes strategies that can vary widely by industry. Some topics that may be covered in a workplace training program include:
- Understanding the hazards of chemicals and how to read safety information
- Proper handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials
- Identifying environmental hazards, such as asbestos or lead, and developing a plan to control or eliminate them
The more your company deals with hazardous materials, the more crucial this type of safety training becomes. All companies can benefit from environmental safety training, but dealing with biohazards and hazardous waste definitely requires more than a passing mention. This should be a robust and comprehensive part of your training program.
8. Proper use of equipment and PPE
Safe use of job-specific equipment is a must, even if employees come to your company with skills and experience. While there is something to be said for on-the-job experience, some employees may not know the ins and outs of a particular piece of machinery (including what it can do and any special safety features).
This aspect is particularly dependent on the industry you're in. Make sure to account for every piece of machinery or equipment your employees will come into contact with. Fully cover any personal protective equipment they should use when working in dangerous areas or with special equipment.
👉 Learn more: Find our full guide on how to create PPE training for your employees.
9. Food handling and preparation
According to the CDC, an estimated 48 million people contract foodborne illnesses each year in the U.S. Food handling and preparation training is so important for preventing foodborne illnesses in the workplace–for both employees and your customers.
Some topics that may be covered in a food safety training program include:
- Proper hand washing techniques and personal hygiene practices
- Understanding the risks of cross-contamination and how to prevent them
- Proper food storage, handling, and cooking temperatures
- Identifying and handling food allergies and intolerances for customers
👉 Learn more: Find our full guide on developing custom food safety training programs for the workplace!
10. Online safety and cybersecurity
For many of us, much of our work lives occur online today. While health and safety topics don't usually cover cybersecurity, it's a critical portion of your training programs.
Online safety training protects your employees, your customers, and your company by making sure employees are all following best practices when it comes to being online. This includes following any HIPAA guidelines for protecting sensitive health information, but also covers things like standardized passwords and two-step verification procedures.
👉 Learn more: Develop your cybersecurity training with our comprehensive guide.
11. Heat safety
Heat-related illnesses can be incredibly dangerous, leading to thousands of workplace injuries a year. With rising temperatures, it’s more important than ever to learn about heat safety in the workplace.
When considering rolling out training on this workplace safety topic, add information about:
- Understanding the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke
- Proper hydration and cooling techniques on the job
- Identifying high-risk jobs or situations where heat-related illness is more likely to occur
⭐ Learn more: Beat the heat, and keep your employees safe, by reading our full heat safety training guide.
12. Emergency evacuation procedures
No matter where your employees work, workplace emergencies can be caused by natural disasters, fires, and other incidents. Emergency evacuation training is important to ensure that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.
This means ensuring that everyone can safely exit the building in the event of an emergency. It may also include developing and communicating an emergency evacuation plan for each location and training on the locations of emergency exits and assembly areas.
This is one of those workplace safety topics you should cover often and regularly, customized to each of your locations.
13. First aid and CPR training
According to the American Heart Association, nearly 90% of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting die. First aid and CPR training are important to increase the chances of survival in case of a medical emergency.
This type of safety training program may cover:
- Understanding basic first aid techniques, such as treating burns or cuts
- Proper use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) and performing CPR
- Identifying signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke
Your community can play a big role in this type of training. Look for free training events in your community from the Red Cross, local police or fire departments, hospitals, or other groups.
14. Respiratory protection and air quality monitoring
Respiratory protection and air quality monitoring training is important to prevent respiratory-related illnesses and to keep employees safe.
For this topic, make sure employees understand the risks of exposure to hazardous substances, such as dust, fumes, or chemicals. There will be some overlap with other workplace safety training topics too, like the proper use of respiratory protection equipment, such as masks or respirators. If needed, make sure employees know how to monitor the air quality as well to identify potential hazards.
15. Hearing conservation training
We don’t realize just how much we rely on our ears. According to the CDC, over 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Hearing conservation training is important to keep your employees aware of this danger and avoid risks.
Your training program may cover:
- Understanding the risks of exposure to loud noises and how they can cause hearing loss
- Proper use of hearing protection equipment, such as earplugs or earmuffs
- Monitoring noise levels in the workplace and identifying potential hazards
⭐ Free course! Give your employees a quick resource for getting started by accessing our FREE hearing conservation training course here. Or, learn more about creating a hearing conservation program in our full guide!
How to create a safety training program for your workplace
While these are some general health and safety topics your training should cover, there are additional industry-specific and location-specific training your employees will need. Find longer, comprehensive lists of workplace safety topics from OSHA, the National Safety Council, the CDC, or your local union or industry organizations.
Your workplace safety training is only as good as the materials you use and your system of delivery. A solid employee safety training must do the following:
- Understand the needs of your employees: Your safety training must take into consideration who is being trained. Information that is too broad and general can be ineffective and a waste of time. Tailor your training to your company’s needs and your employees’ prior knowledge.
- Be applicable: While some workplace safety trainings are required and may not apply to all employees, most of the time you spend on training should give employees the tools they need to do their job, safely and effectively.
- Hold everyone accountable: From upper-level managers and company owners to interns, all employees must be held accountable to the same safety standards. Modeling safety from the top sets the tone for the company.
- Be mobile and adaptive: Five-hundred page safety manuals no one reads aren’t the standard of business anymore. You need safety training that is mobile, agile, and useful on site. Consider incorporating on-the-job microlearning resources into your program, or create geofenced resources that employees can use when on a particular site.
We know how to create safety training that works
Need help tailoring your current safety training to your modern company’s needs? Ready to roll out a full training program? EdgePoint Learning can help! We've developed an innovative library of on-demand safety training materials for today’s companies. Or we can work with you to build fully custom courses for your specific employee safety training needs. We can help. Need a better way to deliver your safety training to a mobile workforce? Our technology partner, PinPoint Workforce has you covered.
From on-the-job safety training to a curated learning experience, we can help you create training that engages your team and helps you protect your employees in the workplace. Get in touch today to learn more.