Office space with plastic partitions around each desk.
Office safety trainings should provide employees with necessary, relevant information and can be done in a variety of ways, from quizzes to expert-led presentations. — Getty Images/mixetto

Office safety has been top of mind for many business owners still managing the risk of COVID-19. However, office safety training should go well beyond preparing to welcome customers back into your restaurant or storefront. Office safety training is an important part of employee onboarding and something that you should host regularly to make sure your team is prepared in an emergency. Here are some strategies for updating and hosting office safety training during the pandemic — and beyond.

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Plan for the immediate future...

Many businesses have adapted to the reality of the pandemic with sanitizer stations, social distancing measures and temperature checks. But as you bring on new employees or return more team members to the office, your office safety protocols should be adjusted accordingly.

Some cities and states are requiring that businesses provide COVID-specific office safety training before permitting employees to return to the office. Over the next six to 12 months, SHRM recommends that you update your office safety training to include:

  • Up-to-date CDC and OSHA workplace safety protocols.
  • Complete state-mandated training elements.
  • Any recent state-specific workplace safety protocols.
  • Industry-specific workplace safety guidance, if applicable.
  • Employer workplace safety policies and practices.

Keep in mind that state training requirements vary widely. “Each of the 16 states that require training has distinct content mandates. For instance, Michigan requires that training include instructions on how employees can report unsafe working conditions. Training in Virginia must include information about the state's anti-retaliation provisions,” wrote SHRM.

You may also need to make arrangements to have office safety training hosted online so that remote workers are onboarded before returning to the office. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences released a training tool that could prove useful in designing your own office safety training. It’s a good place to start!

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The key to any office safety training you offer is making it relevant and interesting so that employees take away new knowledge.

And plan for long-term, general safety.

Remember, office safety training is mandated by law. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace. Training requirements will vary depending on your industry (OSHA divides training into five categories: general industry, maritime, construction, agriculture and federal employees). It’s likely that most small businesses fall under the general industry category. Check this reference guide to learn more.

The type of training that you provide should be tailored to your specific workspace. For instance, if your team works in an office environment, cybersecurity and ergonomic injury prevention may be relevant. If you run a restaurant, make sure everyone knows how to maintain a safe kitchen environment. Generally speaking, your office safety training should cover these areas:

  • Office ergonomics.
  • Fire safety.
  • Workplace violence prevention.
  • Employee health resources.
  • Environmental safety.
  • Equipment safety.
  • Online safety and cybersecurity.

The key to any office safety training you offer is making it relevant and interesting so that employees take away new knowledge.

“It’s your job to ensure the information covered in safety training is presented in a straightforward and easy-to-comprehend way. One way you can do this is to create a top ten checklist of the most important things to remember about safety in your workplace. You can customize these to specific job categories or create a general one for your company,” wrote Christie Mendola a safety training specialist for Emedco.

Use a few different methods, such as videos, checklists and quizzes to make the information stick. You can also bring in an expert to put on office safety training for you.

Bring in an expert

There are plenty of online partners who can provide office safety training for your workforce. Here are just a few highly rated options.

  • National Safety Council:The National Safety Council is a nonprofit that provides tons of online training in topics like first aid, emergency preparedness and even defensive driving. Once you become a member, you can access courses designed for your specific industry or to meet specific OSHA requirements. Prices are, on average, between $25 and $50 per person.
  • J. J. Keller: J.J. Keller has tons of video resources in training topics such as workplace safety, hazmat safety, vehicle safety and even lab safety. Most of its trainings are priced between $25 and $80 per person and can be purchased through its website.
  • Safety Skills: Safety Skills is used by big-name brands like Walmart, Mazda and Ace Hardware to provide online training in workplace safety. You’ll likely find what you need from its library of over 700 HR and safety courses.
  • Pryor Learning: Pryor Learning offers both in-person and online seminars with topics covering a wide range of business areas — not just safety, but also software programs and management and leadership.
  • American Safety Council: The American Safety Council is similar to the National Safety Council and offers self-paced, online courses in a range of office safety training topics.

Check with your local business council to see if they have anyone in the area who can provide office safety training, too.

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