The importance of personal safety training

Personal safety training is essential for creating and maintaining a safe work environment. A successful training program teaches employees the role they play in keeping themselves and each other safe. If you don’t implement individual accountability measures at your site, your EHS team may struggle to reach its goals.

What is personal safety at work?

In the workplace, personal safety refers to the responsibility of individuals to practice situational awareness and protect themselves from safety hazards. Here are just a few of the personal safety hazards that workers must guard against:

  • Security threats (theft, violence, etc.)
  • Equipment and tool hazards
  • Pedestrian and vehicle interactions
  • Weather-related threats

But through process and site-specific training, you can equip your employees to identify, report, and avoid unsafe work conditions.

Free form!

Download this free hazard report form to document safety risks around your facility and determine next steps.

Why is personal safety training important?

Personal safety training is important because it prepares workers for all kinds of hazards and scenarios. Through this training, you can educate employees about the safety concerns relevant to the facility and their specific work areas.

This may help reduce incident rates by creating a more observant, proactive workforce. For example, if machine operators know the common hazards in their department, they can report issues ahead of an incident occurring. Plus, their training will teach them how to recognize active hazards and protect themselves in the moment.

If you don’t teach workers these skills, you increase the risk of safety incidents. So, arming workers with this knowledge ahead of time can only help to improve their situational awareness and prevent catastrophes.

What are personal safety risks?

Personal safety risks are unsafe situations, equipment, and behaviors that pose a danger to physical and mental wellbeing. Examples of personal safety risks include:

  • Using broken or damaged equipment
  • Not wearing the correct PPE
  • Disregarding safety guidelines
  • Experiencing harassment or bullying
  • Failing to pay attention to one’s surroundings

Your training program should not only teach workers these risks but also teach them how to avoid them.

What should your training include?

Personal safety training prepares workers to identify unsafe situations and to protect themselves so they can avoid incidents or injury. Here are the main questions your training program should answer:

  • What are the personal safety risks in this facility or process?
  • How can I identify risks in the moment?
  • How can I protect myself from these safety risks?
  • How should I report hazards to upper management?

What you’ll notice about the list of safety risks in the last section is that each risk is the direct result of employee behavior. So, training should teach workers how to recognize when the equipment they’re using is broken, for example. Or show employees how to properly use their PPE for each task.

I’ve found that sharing real-life examples is the best way to transfer this knowledge. Powerful stories and anecdotes are great tools for reminding workers of what they learned. In my opinion, developing a high-quality personal safety training program is one of the best ways to increase situational awareness and ensure that workers can take care of themselves on a daily basis.