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Whether you’re a fan of the hit show The Office or you’re too busy keeping people safe to watch TV, it’s hard to argue with their depiction of office safety training in one of their episodes.
In Season 3, The Office takes us on a humorous journey of what goes on behind the scenes in a day in the life of safety leadership.
It’s a typical scene: office workers are “forced” into attending safety training, much of which does not apply to their direct duties. The office leader, Michael, suggests that office work is more dangerous than working in the warehouse, which leads to a walkout of warehouse workers during the training.
Being a competitive, egotistical person, Michael goes to drastic measures to emphasize his point, putting all safety aside for the sake of being right.
This episode approaches several serious subjects with a grain of salt, but pearls of true wisdom are not completely overshadowed. Take a look at seven things Hollywood actually got right:
In the episode, their fearless leader makes a move to drive a forklift but is immediately barred because he is not authorized. Their safety trainer explains that only trained individuals can operate the forklift, regardless of their company status – no exceptions.
The show’s safety trainer mentions that they do safety training every year or after an accident (but they’ve never made it a full year without it). It’s not a bad idea to hold a safety training after someone gets hurt. It can be a cautionary tale that accidents can and do happen. Ironically, it was the safety trainer who sustained the last injury and conducted his training while on crutches.
During the episode, the safety trainer demonstrated pieces of equipment, such as the baler and forklift, while talking about their dangers. He also backed up the seriousness of safety with statistics, including how 10 people per year have their arms cut off by baling machines.
Office workers are engaging in safety training with warehouse workers, including learning about the dangers of machines and equipment they’ll never need to do their jobs. The safety trainer says that no office employee should ever have a need to touch the machines. Bottom line: if it’s not critical to your job, there’s no need to put yourself in a precarious situation, especially if you aren’t trained in machine handling.
Desk workers can become injured on the job, too. Things like carpal tunnel and musculoskeletal disorders can be avoided. The office workers were encouraged to get up from their chairs, step away from their computer screens, and move around every hour.
Throughout the episode, Michael (the office leader) is his usual eye-rolling, laughing, snarky self, and is told by a lower-ranking employee to “pay attention.” The fact is that no one is immune from accidents and hazards. Whether you’ve heard the same spiel for years or are learning about a new threat, every safety training session should be taken seriously.
During the safety talks, Michael mentions that some of the office threats are more dangerous than balers and other machines. But keep in mind, safety isn’t a competition. It doesn’t matter whose job is more dangerous or safer. The most important thing to remember is that ALL threats should be handled with care.
If you want to get your team’s attention, just show them a couple clips from The Office safety training episode. It’s an easy, entertaining way to reiterate that safety should be taken seriously, but doesn’t usually receive the attention it deserves.
For more advice on how to foster a safer work environment, explore our blog. You can make every safety training more effective by ensuring your talks directly relate to the participants. Visual aids, demonstrations, and factual data can all lend credibility to your training and help others take an interest.
Further reading: Safety Trainers: Connect with Your Teams with the Right Health and Safety Topics
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