Safety (or “toolbox”) talks are a simple way to educate workers and promote better awareness of the risks they face, but even the most seasoned safety manager might struggle to come up with fresh daily safety topics for the workplace from week to week.
These briefings are crucial, though, as poor workplace safety remains high: 5,333 workers died on the job in 2019, according to research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And some of the most commonly violated safety standards, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), include fall protection, respiratory protection, and eye and face protection.
To combat this, safety managers may need to incorporate a consistent daily safety topic all year long. In this post, we’ll explore 52 daily safety message topics you can cover to help workers stay safe in warehouses, factories, and other potentially risky environments.
How to Organize a Week of Daily Safety Talk Sessions
First, let’s look at one way you can form a full five-day set of talks from a given safety topic.
Have a brief talk about the topic in general. Cover the basics, and convey why it matters. For example, why is personal protective equipment (PPE) so important in a manufacturing environment no matter how unnecessary it may seem to someone who has been doing their job for 30 years without an injury?
Set up role-play scenarios: How could one worker approach another who operates machinery without the necessary PPE? What could an employee say to encourage proper safety precautions and reduce a colleague’s risk of injuring oneself?
Use storytelling to explore safety topics in these scenarios, too. For example, when covering the importance of hearing protection in noisy environments, ask workers with kids to raise their hands. Invite one or more of them to play out a scenario in which prolonged exposure to excessive workplace noise prevents them from hearing their children say their first word, laugh, or sing. These risks will have an even more memorable connection than the average workplace safety tip.
Try to find real examples of workers who were hurt on the job, such as someone who suffered an eye injury because goggles weren’t used. Videos, images, and statistics can all help drive the message home. Try turning it into a game. Provide a hazardous situation, and see if anyone can guess what happened next.
Invite workers to suggest their own ideas on improving safety related to each of your daily safety talk topics. For instance, they might be aware of a new type of PPE that could be beneficial or feel concerned about the lack of sizes available for different body shapes. You can use this as an opportunity to identify safety gaps.
Host a short pop quiz to test workers’ knowledge on the week’s topic. Using PPE as an example again, questions might include:
- What does a specific piece of PPE do to protect the wearer?
- What possible injuries could occur without a certain type of PPE?
- What should workers do if they feel their current PPE is unsuitable for a task?
- What should workers do with PPE after use to make sure it’s safe for the next wearer?
Now that you have an idea of how to incorporate these topics into the daily work day, let’s talk about daily safety message topics.
List of Daily Safety Topics
1. PPE: Discuss different types of PPE that workers need to use in their duties, how they help them stay safe, and what dangers they may face without them. You can also demonstrate how to properly put on and remove PPE for optimal protection.
2. Electrical safety: Exposure to electricity caused 166 fatal workplace injuries in 2019, so this is one of the most important safety topics in any environment. Cover how workers can handle cables or machinery that may create a higher risk, the right PPE, and how to apply first-aid to someone who may have been electrocuted.
3. Forklift safety: Forklifts can pose a danger to the operator and other workers when handled improperly. This could be due to a lack of training, limited awareness of surroundings, or poor visibility. Offer tips on safe operation and common hazards (e.g., driving too fast in small workspaces).
4. Carbon monoxide poisoning: Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal, so safety managers should consider this one of the key workplace safety topics for a daily toolbox talk. Examine what causes it, its effects on the body, and how to prevent it.
5. Fire prevention: Explore how and why fires may start in your workplace, such as through faulty machinery or mishandling of chemicals. Show workers how they can decrease the likelihood of a fire.
6. Fire safety procedure: What should workers do if they discover a fire, and how and where should they evacuate? Cover everything they need to know to stay safe, including exit door locations.
7. Staying focused and aware of hazards: This could be considered one of the top daily safety topics for warehouse workers, as these environments can become cluttered, piled high with stacks of crates, and hard to navigate. Offer advice on how to avoid distractions, and identify potential dangers (such as cluttered package areas).
8. Dealing with accidents: What should workers do if one or more people are injured in an accident? Clarify who’s capable of performing first-aid, how to stop it from happening again, and when specific areas should be closed off.
9. The side effects of accidents: Contextualize accidents in the workplace by examining their repercussions. For example, a back injury could prevent workers from playing sports with their kids or enjoying other hobbies in their downtime. Help them see why injuries are about more than the immediate pain.
10. Safe machine operation: Demonstrate how workers should operate machinery properly, no matter how familiar they may be with certain devices. Cover how machine guards help protect operators and others, as well as how to check machinery for signs of damage or faults before switching it on.
11. Responsible behavior in the workplace: All workers should behave in a responsible manner, particularly when operating machinery, driving vehicles, or working at height. Examine the risks of reckless or inconsiderate behavior in your workplace.
12. How to handle hazardous substances: Hazardous substances (such as acids and poisonous materials) should be handled with the utmost care. Help workers learn what PPE is required for specific substances they may encounter and common accidents.
13. First-aid: Address different types of first-aid that workers may be required to perform. Offer tips on everything from dressing burns to cleaning out cuts and performing CPR in emergencies.
14. How good hygiene can improve safety: Workers with poor hygiene may create a mess and not clean it up, creating a slip hazard. Or, they could neglect to clean PPE after usage and put others at risk of catching bugs.
15. Hand protection and common injuries: Gloves may be required in your workplace, particularly for lifting heavy objects, handling cutting tools, or working with chemicals. Emphasize the risks of complacency and which gloves are most effective.
16. Staying safe when sick: Employees may come to work with the flu or another virus that could affect others. Cover the health risks they could create if they fail to keep their distance, cover their mouths when sneezing, or forget to wash communal cups after use.
17. Handling flammable liquids safely: Any flammable liquids must be handled and stored responsibly to prevent accidents. Explore how to do both safely, even at dangerous temperatures, and how to handle leaks.
18. Using ladders: Workers may overlook basic safety when climbing up or down ladders if they’re distracted or in a hurry. And improper positioning can increase the risk of falls, injuries, and structural damage. Discuss proper ladder setup, placement, and usage.
19. Proper lifting technique for large objects: Lifting large objects with poor technique can cause debilitating back injuries and overexertion, and put others at risk. Demonstrate safe and unsafe lifting form, as featured in this video:
20. Safety in noisy environments: This is one of the most important daily safety topics for manufacturing plants or other workplaces where loud machinery, tools, or vehicles are constantly in operation. Examine the dangers of foregoing ear protection, how loud noises can distract workers, and how they may affect others within hearing range.
21. Working outdoors: Workers should know how to be safe when outdoors, from warning pedestrians of potential obstructions or debris to assessing risks related to weather (e.g., slippery surfaces in heavy downpours).
22. How to stay safe in hot weather: Staying safe in high temperatures is crucial during summer months or in locations subjected to constant heat. Provide tips on covering up, the dangers of too much sun exposure, staying hydrated, and finding shade.
23. How to stay safe in cold weather: Advise workers on how to dress appropriately for lower temperatures, the risks of prolonged exposure to cold weather, and how that can affect their ability to work safely (such as operating machinery with numb hands).
24. Performing risk assessments: This should be one of the fundamental daily safety meeting topics in any workplace. Highlight why risk assessments are so important, how they’re performed, and what constitutes a risk.
25. Identifying safety signs: This topic enables safety managers to teach workers the different signage they need to know, including those that may be easily misunderstood or ignored.
26. Signage rules: Workers performing specific tasks, especially in public spaces, will be required to erect signage to maintain safety. Examine what signs they may need, what they mean, and why not displaying them could be dangerous.
27. Setting up scaffolding: Both experienced and beginner workers may set scaffolding up incorrectly due to inadequate training or a complacent attitude. Discuss proper setup techniques for different heights, building types, and weather.
28. Responsible behavior on scaffolding: Working on scaffolding creates the potential for workers to fall, drop heavy objects on others at ground level, slip when climbing ladders, and more. Focus on how to behave responsibly on scaffolding at any height.
29. Handling cutting tools safely: Improper handling of cutting tools can lead to minor and major lacerations. Show how to use relevant blades safely to decrease the risk of cuts, and advise on which glove density may be necessary.
30. Disposing of sharps properly: Sharp objects must be disposed of safely to prevent others from cutting or stabbing themselves. Explain how to dispose of sharps properly, potential injuries, and which objects qualify as sharp.
31. Why regular sleep patterns are important for shift workers: Employees who work night shifts may struggle to get restful sleep during the day, and they may not be as alert as they should be. Share insights on health effects of poor sleep and related workplace dangers.
32. How to recognize when coworkers may be too tired to work safely: Help workers understand what signs to watch out for if they suspect a colleague isn’t alert or focused enough to perform potentially dangerous tasks.
33. What to do if people are on-site without authorization: Trespassers may create safety risks by interfering with operations, or distracting workers in control of machinery or vehicles. Establish standard procedure for reporting and removing unauthorized visitors.
34. Who should accidents be reported to? All workers need to know how to report accidents, who to inform, and when to contact the emergency services. This is ideal for role-play scenarios.
35. Stress in the workplace: Ninety-four percent of U.S. workers experienced stress in the workplace in 2019. That can have a negative effect on health, and cause mood swings and distractions. Explore relaxation techniques and warning signs that someone may be extremely stressed.
36. Driving vehicles responsibly: Anyone at the wheel of a vehicle in the workplace must know how to operate it properly, what routes to take, and the maximum capacity limits when transporting cargo.
37. How to dispose of waste safely: Waste that could be harmful to the environment, wildlife, or humans should be disposed of carefully. Make workers aware of local and national regulations, and what types of waste can be dangerous.
38. Working close to water: Any teams working near water for any reason, such as a lake or swamp, may be at risk of falling in or being swept away by incoming tides. Increase awareness of dangers and responsible behavior.
39. Repetitive strain injuries: A repetitive strain injury (RSI) can cause muscular pain due to ongoing repetitive movements and overuse. Help workers recognize the signs, and share techniques to avoid it.
40. Stretching to reduce discomfort and stress: Stretching the back or limbs can help to decrease the risk of developing aches and pains, particularly when lifting heavy objects repeatedly. Explore good stretching technique, benefits, and poor posture.
41. Handling power tools: Power tools are a staple of construction sites and other industrial settings, but complacent or untrained workers could injure themselves and others. Cover how to handle relevant tools, how to know when they should be replaced, and other tips to mitigate risks.
42. Working in confined spaces: Working in confined spaces poses various risks, from oxygen-depletion to low visibility. Look at how to perform a risk assessment, how to check for gases, and when breathing equipment may be required.
43. Fall prevention: Any individuals or teams working at height should be aware of common risks, such as leaning too far over guardrails, walking on slippery surfaces, or using ladders irresponsibly.
44. How to prevent infections: Cuts can occur when handling blades, operating machinery, or falling, so workers need to know how to clean them to avoid infections. Antibacterial and antiseptic products should be available in any workplace.
45. Avoiding eye strain: Workers who use computers or screens repeatedly should be aware of eye strain (i.e. computer vision syndrome), its causes, its long-term implications, and how to prevent it.
46. The dangers of drinking on the job: Inebriated workers may be unable to operate machinery safely or exercise sound judgment. Shed light on the dangers they could pose to themselves and others, and the disciplinary action that may result.
47. The dangers of poor lighting: Clear visibility is a must in any work setting, from offices and warehouses to construction sites. Discuss the minimum lighting requirements for your environment, and when workers should request more effective lights.
48. Protecting the public when working outdoors: Workers have a responsibility to the public when outdoors, whether driving heavy-duty vehicles along busy streets, digging up roads, or using noisy tools that create dust. Safety managers should cover signage, practicing good safety when working beside roads, and any other risks to the public.
49. Staying safe when working alone: Individuals working in a secluded area of a warehouse or at the top of a building undergoing development may be more vulnerable in an accident. They should know to keep a phone close by in case of an emergency, and that they still need PPE even if there’s no one around to check.
50. Working safely with gas: In workplaces where gas may be an issue, safety talks should educate teams on how to identify leaks, what to do if one occurs, and how to store gas canisters securely.
51. Asbestos dangers and safe handling: Construction teams may run into asbestos when working on older buildings. Talks can teach them how to recognize it, the dangers, and who to call.
52. Carrying loads safely by hand: It’s vital to carry packages, tools, crates, or materials responsibly to prevent injuries and property damage. Workers may try to carry too much at once to avoid going back and forth, but that could hurt them and cause more problems than it solves. Share tips on staying safe when carrying heavy or sensitive items, especially in bustling workplaces.
We hope this list of 52 topics inspires you to create daily informative toolbox talks and improves safety in your workplace. Focusing on one topic across a five-day period gives you an opportunity to explore all the related problems workers may experience, and their solutions, in detail. Addressing daily safety topics can also help you build a well-informed, well-prepared team that knows how to identify accidents, avoid accidents, and how to handle them when need be.
How can I successfully implement new safety initiatives?
How do I get buy-in from management and workers?
What’s the best way to build trust and rapport?
Should EHS be a C-Suite position?
We explore these questions and more on the Safety Labs by Slice podcast. Check us out using the links below.