4 Common Health and Safety Scenarios in the Workplace

02 January 2019

A day in the office is pretty much like any other, but what happens if health and safety scenarios in the workplace occur? These situations can be broad and varied, from fires and weather to workplace violence and health issues. Are your employees equipped to handle these issues, or will they be helpless bystanders if one of these events take place?

Promoting Health and Safety in the Workplace

This idea of preparation isn't about scaring people. It's an extension of promoting a healthy and safe working environment. For example, in one Australian study on workplace safety in non-office environments, the researchers found that the average person was well aware of the potential dangers and risks associated with work, but they still didn't take appropriate precautions.

If it's hard to accomplish this in a setting with known dangers, as this study indicates, it will be even harder to do so in an office environment where people feel relatively safe and comfortable. That said, training is still a necessity. The cost of not taking action is much too high.

The Importance of Employee Training

The types of scenarios that may occur are diverse, but that's exactly why it's important to prepare. Research on employee training shows that simulated exercises are one of the best ways to improve "transfer of training," which measures how much someone retains from training that is directly applicable to the task or job they must perform.

  • If the Transfer Is Low: The training isn't very good. This is where many health and safety training classes currently fail because they are passive or unengaging.
  • If the Transfer Is High: Workers should be able to directly apply the concepts learned from training back into the actual job they are performing.

By using simulations and practice exercises, workers are much more likely to remember the training and be able to apply the core principles when a situation demands it.

What Are Common Health and Safety Scenarios in the Workplace?

The best way to prepare workers is to act out and simulate the exercise in a consistent manner to ensure the emergency response becomes second nature. Consider the following four common scenarios and ask yourself if your employees are prepared for these events:

  1. Inclement Weather: Are employees trained on how to respond to these events by assembling in specified areas to take cover?
  2. Fire: Do employees know where to report for headcount purposes upon exiting the facility?
  3. Workplace Violence: How should workers respond to situations ranging from minimal disturbances all the way up to active shooter scenarios?
  4. Health Event: If someone has a heart attack or another serious health issue, who is qualified to provide treatment? How should people respond?

In the workplace today, there's simply no way to ensure that these scenarios do not occur. Each of the four examples provided here are beyond the control of the business and the average worker; however, we are in control of how we respond to these situations.

By taking the appropriate time to educate workers, identify champions to "own" different types of emergency responses, and train them on various health and safety scenarios in the workplace as appropriate, employers can adequately prepare the workforce for almost any situation that might threaten their lives or health. This isn't about scaring people for the sake of it — it's about promoting health and safety in the workplace for all workers.