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What Is Safety Training?
Workplace safety training is part of a larger safety program and is geared towards the education and support of specific safety practices in an organization’s workforce.
Why Is Safety Training Important?
No debate about it: the greatest and most important asset a company has is its workers. As such, it is in the organization’s best interest to protect them in every way possible. The best safety measures are preventative, so taking precautionary action to ensure the safety of the workforce is undeniably important. Safety training benefits include:
- Reduced work-related injuries.
- Legal compliance with OSHA. In order to avoid costly fines and legal problems, you must maintain OSHA compliance at all times. This means staying up to date with changes to their mandates and ensuring the workplace adapts to all changes as they roll out.
- Improved morale, work satisfaction, and employee loyalty. An employee who feels valued remains loyal to their company. Nothing conveys being valued more than taking action to look out for the safety and health of your staff.
- Increased employee health. Health and safety are two sides of the same coin. Especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, biohazardous conditions have been scrutinized more closely as an essential piece of workplace safety. All thorough safety training includes action steps to keep workers healthy and protected from sickness.
- Increased production. A natural result of a reduction of work-related injuries is higher production. Safety incidents not only potentially take injured employees out of work for the time being, it also requires time-consuming reporting processes.
- Better communication. Effective safety training opens the channels of communication between staff and upper management. It clarifies what conditions are considered hazardous enough to report so there are no doubts when those channels are to be utilized. Staff feels valued when the reporting processes result in action being taken.
A Note on OSHA Compliance and Safety Topics
Safety topics tend to be industry-specific. For example, your call center likely does not need to be trained on proper safety precautions surrounding exposure to asphalt fumes. Similarly, your roofing crew probably doesn’t need training covering cyber security. Keep in mind that while training on certain topics might not be required by OSHA, it can be absolutely key to keeping your company OSHA compliant as a whole. OSHA requires employers to provide training to workers who face hazards on the job. They create training materials, distribute training grants to nonprofit organizations, and provide training through authorized education centers. Here is an excellent place to start to find out what training is required for your industry.
Types of Safety Training
Training comes in many forms: internal, external, virtual, and more. While each form of training can be effective on its own, keep in mind that a well-rounded safety program incorporates many different methods, including:
Internal Safety Training
This type of training teaches safety measures to employees using only the company’s resources, experience, and knowledge. It is carried out only by the organization’s internal staff and covers in-depth, company-wide, role-specific safety information. Since this is headed up by the company’s own employees, the trainee gains not only pointed safety information, but also insights surrounding the organization’s expectations, priorities, and culture.
External Safety Training
External training is headed up by a third party from outside of the company’s internal staff that is paid to present specific training. Contrary to internal training, external training is typically utilized for broad safety topics such as OSHA compliance.
As its name implies, virtual training takes place outside of the office on a digital platform such as Zoom, GoTo Meeting, or Google Workspace.
Any time employees and trainers are able to commence training face-to-face, it’s referred to as in-person training.
Induction Safety Training
Induction safety training is the initial safety training of a new employee. It covers introductory safety measures such as Person Protective Devices (PPD), first aid kit locations, emergency exits, and emergency procedures.
This type of training refers to the uniformly scheduled (typically quarterly, semiannually, or annually) safety training sessions that include all employees, regardless of tenure. This can be either internal or external and covers a broad variety of important safety topics, such as active shooter protocols and proper use of PPD. Separate training sessions of this kind should also be scheduled to cover location-specific safety information such as emergency evacuation procedures, company expectations during emergency drills, and where to find emergency evacuation maps as well as how to read them.
When safety precautions fail or aren’t fully utilized, leadership may call an informal gathering to discuss a specific area of safety or address a safety concern.
Tips on How to Run a Safety Training
Now that we have a solid understanding of what safety training is, what’s the best way to run one?
Preparation is King
Perhaps the most involved tasks happen before the safety training session even begins. Preparation involves determining the topic and method, how it will be presented, scheduling in a way that works for everyone involved, and reserving the location (or setting the virtual meeting up). Something to also think about is the “who” factor. Who is teaching and who is the training for? Ensure the leaders have proper funds and access to the needed resources and curriculum, as well as adequate time to prepare and enough time scheduled to convey the information in a way that sticks. Support employees with self-awareness tools such as learning- and communication-style assessments. This helps them be the best learners they can be. Also, ensure they are appropriately compensated for the time and effort they give to attend the training session.
Keep it Memorable
Enter the meeting with the tone you want set throughout the entire session. Present information with the goal of everyone retaining it. Some great ways to do this is to keep it interactive, light-hearted, and fun—and of course, giving away free stuff (or providing food!) is always a plus.
As everyone has different learning styles, not everyone absorbs information in the same way. Present the information using as many different methods as possible. For example, verbally communicating a concept with visuals on the projector while passing around a physical example of what is being taught. The learner is getting the information auditorily, visually, and kinesthetically. Include things that encourage interactivity, like a fill-in-the-blank, or divide the class into teams to spark some friendly competition. Get the blood flowing and people talking.
Begin with Compliance in Mind
Not all training is OSHA required. However, having a strong safety program in place can definitely help your company remain compliant. For mandated training, utilize the resources and grants provided by OSHA. But don’t stop there. Make sure your staff is well educated on compliance and proper safety practices. Safety is the job of everyone at your company, and it is more likely that an employee will spot an unsafe situation before it is caught by upper management. Ensuring everyone is on the same page when it comes to safety helps to ensure your work environment is hazard-free.
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Kayla is the Chief Innovation Officer at Hero Culture, where the passion is to create company cultures of retention using the power of personality.
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