Workplace safety is something the law requires and employees frequently take for granted. In the eyes of regulators, employers are responsible for identifying and communicating about hazards and making the work environment as safe as possible.

Discussing short safety topics can be a great way to keep people aware of the potential risks in their line of work. These refreshers will elevate safety from a background issue to a top priority for all involved.

Here are some short safety topics to add to a rolling list to tackle during company meetings and morning standups. Not all of them will apply, but if you make your living in construction, manufacturing or anything where workers put their bodies on the line, a substantial number probably will.


1. Be aware of your surroundings

This is a familiar refrain in any work environment involving heavy lifting and large equipment. According to OSHA, 5,333 workers lost their lives on the job in 2019. There's no way to tell how many of these could've been prevented through better spatial and situational awareness, but chances are good the number is considerable.


2. Maintain health and fitness

There's no way around the fact that some occupations are more physically demanding than others. When it comes to workplace safety, research suggests physical conditioning can reduce the likelihood of sustaining workplace injuries.

Stretching before shifts may not make an appreciable difference, but encouraging solid general fitness among workers can.


3. Wear appropriate PPE

Employers are required by law to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) matched to each task and its risks. They also must regularly coach team members on wearing it during every shift. PPE deserves regular mention because it saves limbs and lives.


4. Get enough sleep

Tie the previous two points together — awareness of one's surroundings and attaining peak physical condition — with a short safety topic relating to sleep hygiene. You and your team earn your living in a physically and mentally demanding field. Show your bodies the respect they deserve by aiming for an amount of sleep commensurate with your age and physical job requirements.


5. Understand emergency procedures

Meetings — whether workplace-wide or departmental — are ideal opportunities to refresh teammates' memories on what to do during emergencies. Nobody wants to dwell on the implications of a severe-weather event or an active shooter. Still, it's even worse to potentially face these events without the proper mental and material preparation.

The Department of Homeland Security has a guide for workplaces with some timely reminders worth repeating, such as having a plan in place beforehand and being prepared to leave your belongings behind during an evacuation.


6. Follow proper safety incident responses

A related point is communicating what to do during various safety incidents. These might include:

  • Spills of chemicals and other materials
  • Bodily injuries
  • Vehicle collisions
  • Equipment malfunctions
  • Unsafe conditions at the worksite
  • Damaged facilities or equipment


Not every employee will be trained on chemical-spill procedures, but they should all know to deploy signage or cones, avoid the area, and alert a supervisor immediately. Other responses may also be universal, such as never moving an injured person to avoid provoking further damage to their body.


7. Address mental health and workplace bullying

There will probably always be unreported cases of workplace bullying and sexual or physical harassment. Still, employers can ensure there are fewer places in their organizations for such behavior to hide.

When acts of aggression or abuse go unreported, it's often because the victim fears there's no channel to do so or because they worry leadership won't take them seriously. Use short safety tip meetings to let your teams know you run a zero-tolerance workplace where uncivilized behavior is answered decisively.


8. Provide news about ongoing or future changes

Management in manufacturing, construction and logistics environments sometimes gets too caught up in technology investments, workflow changes and facility upgrades to communicate about these changes effectively to the workforce.

Will new procedures and technologies change how workers do their jobs? If so, companies get better results when communicating about them before, during and after implementation. Doing so ensures workers can roll with the punches safely and ask questions before implementing new materials or practices.


9. Teach how to lift heavy objects

Pride is the cause of lots of workplace injuries, from dislocations to hernias. Take every opportunity to remind employees there's no shame in calling in a buddy to perform a team lift on a heavy or awkwardly shaped burden or to reach for something from the oversized warehouse racking. Lots of job listings request applicants who can lift 50 or 100 pounds, but it doesn't necessarily mean doing so is safe in every case.


10. Discuss tool handling and storage

Your facility or work site might have dozens or hundreds of hand tools and pieces of powered equipment. Each has a function, and workers expect their devices to operate safely each shift, from brooms and hammers to air compressors and lift trucks.

There's a lot of potential subject matter to cover in short safety topic meetings related to handling and storing tools and equipment. Here are some of the highlights worth hitting regularly:

  • Every team member must conduct a pre-startup inspection of powered equipment.
  • All tools must be returned to their designated storage areas to avoid damaging them and causing unsafe operation.
  • Tools left in unexpected locations can cause pedestrian injuries and vehicle malfunctions if they're stepped on or run over.
  • Team members should take damaged tools and equipment out of circulation if they detect breakage or unsafe operation. Never attempt to use compromised equipment.
  • Machine and tool breakdowns are among the leading causes of safety incidents in various industries.


11. Mention seasonal hazards

If you live someplace where the weather oscillates between seasonal extremes or gets dangerously hot,   you owe it to your team to discuss seasonal and weather-based hazards.

Heat exposure killed 43 employees in 2019 — lower than 2011's figures but higher than most \years in between. Wherever heat can cause illness, ensure workers know the risks and feel empowered to take regular breaks in the name of their health.

There are plenty of other hazards worth coaching on, although they vary by area. Discussing flooding contingencies, locations to take shelter during extreme weather events and the best ways to avoid Lyme disease while working outside are all fair game.


Use short safety topics to create a culture of safety

These short safety topics are perfect for discussing at morning standups and other meetings. New hires and old hands alike benefit from regular repetition of core learning concepts. Try to couple these gatherings and formal training sessions with positive reinforcement for safe behaviors. Combining these efforts inevitably leads to a safer and more conscientious workplace culture.