A robust safety training program is a critical part of every successful company’s safety plan. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires that employers provide training to workers who face hazards while at work. Safety training makes workers aware of dangers in their workplace and helps prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Effective safety training creates awareness for employees to identify unsafe working conditions and teaches the appropriate method for reporting those conditions to management.
OSHA has more than 100 safety standards that contain requirements for employee training, including:
- Hazard Communication (Chemical Safety)
- Bloodborne Pathogens
- Hearing Conservation
- Employee Emergency Plans and Fire Prevention Plans
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Respiratory Protection
- Permit-Required Confined Spaces
- The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)
- Welding, Cutting, and Brazing
A well-trained workforce means workers are safely performing their jobs and that an organization is doing the most to prevent serious accidents and deaths. Companies that do not comply with OSHA’s health and safety training requirements could face the repercussions of large fines, increased insurance costs, reduced productivity, and loss of business due to a poor reputation.
Successful in-person training programs entail a trainer that is well versed in safety and health and uses effective communication in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. More and more companies are turning to e-learning to educate workers about safety protocols. Workers can participate in training courses online and then their completed activities are recorded in the e-learning module of an integrated EHS management software system.
Assess and Assign
Especially in a large organization with many complex roles, it can be a difficult task to track exactly which employees require what type of training. One way to accomplish this is to conduct a hazard assessment for each operation in the workplace. Once the hazards have been identified, it becomes easier to create a list of each training topic and assign those workers who may be exposed to that hazard. To assist employers with these designations, OSHA developed the “Training Requirements in OSHA Standards” guide. Workplace hazard assessments or safety audits can also be documented using an EH&S management software system that may also have modules to simplify the process of tracking safety training.
Training Program Implementation
The make-or-break point of executing a successful safety training program is sustainably maintaining it. A safety training management role should be created (if it does not already exist), so that there is a responsible person to oversee the program, make sure that workers are being alerted when training is required, and encourage all employees to follow through on training requirements. Tracking employee training is just another level of accountability to confirm that all workers have the means to do their jobs safely and legally.
Review and Maintain
Once a safety training program is a well-established part of the organization, it should be reviewed annually (at the very least) to ensure that new employees and those who have been assigned new positions are fully prepared to carry out their work with all the necessary training. The best way to assess the effectiveness and sustainability of a training program is to get out in the field and observe behaviors to confirm that workers are performing their jobs safely. Having a positive working relationship between the safety training management role and those undergoing safety training is an important part of this step. Once a relationship of mutual respect has been established, maintenance is more possible through the solicitation of honest feedback combined with these observations of how the work is being carried out after training.
Earlier systems for tracking employee safety training entailed an Excel spreadsheet for recording names and hours, but this method allows for many mistakes in reporting and can be very time-consuming. The emergence of new technology (especially cloud storage) has introduced more cost-effective EHS management software solutions that simplify every part of this process (administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and even delivery of training programs). With the benefit of automation and fully configurable software, the tasks of assigning training courses, reminding employees of training due dates or expiration dates, running reports, storing course material, and issuing certifications have never been easier. EH&S management software can also keep companies on top of medical surveillance compliance such as annual fit tests and audiometric testing. In today’s fast-paced workplace, EHS management software is quickly becoming necessary to completely engage employees in the required safety training.
The SafetyStratus Research Advisory Group (RAG) brings together thought leaders from the global environmental, health, and safety community to promote best practices and provide key insights in the profession and the industries they serve. The Research Advisory Group also advocates, where practical, the intersection of and advances with the use of technology, such as the SafetyStratus enterprise EHS software platform. Group membership consists of representatives from across varied disciplines and market sectors as well as select members of the SafetyStratus team.
The primary objectives of the SafetyStratus RAG partnership are to:
- Build a strategic partnership between EHS practitioners and the SafetyStratus team.
- Provide engaging and practical content to the global EHS community.
- Provide discipline and market feedback specific to SafetyStratus products and services.
While the objectives of the RAG are varied, the primary public-facing outcome will be available through engaging and practical content found on the SafetyStratus resource pages. Various articles, papers, and other valuable resources will be produced and shared as part of an ongoing effort to cultivate a robust community. Ultimately, the SafetyStratus RAG will expand to have a broader reach and provide opportunities for more inclusion by all interested EHS professionals in a collaborative community environment.