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Introduction

Can all employees explain every existing and potential hazard to which they are exposed? Do they know how to protect themselves and their coworkers from these hazards? Can they explain precisely what they must do in the event of a fire or other emergency?

Training can help employees develop the knowledge and skills they need to understand workplace hazards. OSHA considers safety and health training vital to every workplace.

Before training begins, be sure that your company policy clearly states the company's commitment to health and safety and to the training program. This commitment must include paid work time for training and training in the language that the worker understands. Involve both management and employees in developing and delivering the programs.

Identifying training needs

New employees need to be trained not only to do the job, but also to recognize, understand, and avoid potential hazards to themselves and others in their immediate work area and elsewhere in the workplace. Contract workers also need training to recognize your workplace's hazards or potential hazards. Experienced workers will need training if new equipment is installed or process changes. Employees needing to wear personal protective equipment and persons working in high risk situations will need special training.

Periodic safety and health training

Some worksites need complex work practices to control hazards. Some worksites experience fairly frequent occupational injuries and illnesses. At such sites, it is especially important that employees receive periodic safety and health training to refresh their memories and to teach new methods of control. New training also may be necessary when OSHA or industry standards require it or new standards are issued.

One-on-one training is possibly the most effective training method. The supervisor periodically spends some time watching an individual employee work. Then the supervisor meets with the employee to discuss safe work practices, bestow credit for safe work, and provide additional instruction to counteract any observed unsafe practices. One-on-one training is most effective when applied to all employees under supervision and not just those with whom there appears to be a problem. Positive feedback given for safe work practices is a very powerful tool. It helps workers establish new safe behavior patterns and recognizes and thereby reinforces the desired behavior.

Evaluations

Evaluations can help determine whether the training you have provided has achieved its goal of improving your employees' safety performance. Some ways you can evaluate your training program:

  • Before training begins, determine what areas need improvement by observing workers and soliciting their opinions. When training ends, test for improvement. Ask employees to explain their jobs' hazards, protective measures, and new skills and knowledge.
  • Keep track of employee attendance at training.
  • At the end of training, ask participants to rate the course and the trainer.
  • Compare pre-and post-training injury and accident rates, near misses, and percent of safe behavior exhibited.

SOME COMMON TYPES OF SPECIALIZED TRAINING

Safety and Health Training for Managers - Training managers in their responsibilities is necessary to ensure their continuing support and understanding. It is their responsibility to communicate the program's goal and objectives to their employees, as well as assign safety and health responsibilities, and hold subordinates accountable.

Safety and Health Training for Supervisors - Supervisors may need additional training in hazard detection, accident investigation, their role in ensuring maintenance of controls, emergency handling, and use of personal protective equipment.

Job Orientation - The format and extent of orientation training will depend on the complexity of hazards and the work practices needed to control them. An orientation may consist of a quick review of site safety and health rules, hazard communication training, and a run-through of job tasks. Larger workplaces with more complex hazards and work practices to control them, may wish to start with a clear description of hazards, followed by a discussion of how to protect oneself. Employees may have on-the-job training and may shadow an experienced employee for a period of time.:

Sources of assistance

You can often get additional help in developing training programs and identifying training resources from:

  • Your insurance carrier, your corporate staff, or your PPE supplier;
  • Local safety councils or industry associations;
  • OSHA-funded Consultation Projects for small business; and
  • OSHA full-service Area Offices