Safety training is relevant to every industry. Whether your employees work in an office or a warehouse, each employee should be properly trained for the job they perform and prepared for the potential risks they might encounter. Often this training is provided to new employees during orientation when they first start the job. However, this shouldn’t be the only time new employees are exposed to safety training.
What is safety training
But first, what is safety training? According to OSHA, safety training involves ensuring workers have the required skills and knowledge to safely do their work. Training is an essential part of every employer’s safety and health program. Proper training not only protects workers from work-related injuries, but also improves productivity, performance, and morale.
To see how training is critical to keeping all employees safe, let’s explore a scenario.
When safety training is overlooked
At a small construction site, a new construction worker is hired to the build site. Because the construction foreman has worked with this worker in the past, he feels the new worker doesn’t need training. The foreman, with his long list of things to do, leaves the new worker with the rest of the crew without educating him about the site or providing him with safety training. Thinking the new worker has enough construction experience, nobody mentions the procedures for using and working from a scaffold.
On his first day, the new construction worker is installing brick siding from scaffold more than 10 feet off the ground. He stumbles on the scaffold while reaching for a brick and accidentally drops the brick. Because the worker wasn’t instructed that guardrails are required on scaffolds more than 10 feet off the ground, the brick slides off the edge of the scaffold and narrowly avoids hitting another construction worker walking below.
Could this have been prevented?
New employees are often left alone to perform their duties without exposure to the risks they may encounter while doing them. This mentality can be extremely dangerous and lead to an increased chance of workplace injuries. Research shows that new employees in their first months on the job have more than 3x the risk for a lost-time injury. Poorly or untrained employees are not only a danger to themselves, but they are a danger to those around them. Simple training and exposure to the dangers and risks of the job site and specific job functions can increase awareness, reduce the risk of injury, and even improve performance.
Because the construction foreman worked with the new employee on a previous job, he felt the employee was qualified and didn’t require additional training on the construction site. Due to his negligence, the new worker almost hurt himself and another worker due to improper use of the scaffolding and ignorance of scaffolding safety hazards.
Best Practices for Safety Training
Don't overlook the importance of proper safety training. New and veteran employees alike should undergo safety training regularly to ensure everyone is being safe and productive. Inform employees of potential hazards of the job and train them to properly mitigate issues to prevent injury. To do this, consider the following best practices for new employee safety training:
- Reinforce safety training through workplace communications. Use internal newsletters, emails, posters, and other communications to reiterate key safety training concepts and build a safety culture.
- Provide safety training regularly. Provide all employees, new and veteran, with safety training routinely. Just because someone has experience doesn’t make them immune to injuries and hazards. Spread out training over several sessions to allow employees to absorb and reflect on what they’re learning.
- Offer Q&A sessions during training to encourage engagement. Instead of treating training sessions like lectures, engage employees with discussion. This gives employees an active role in their safety training and offers employees a platform to voice their own concerns and experiences.
- Integrate wearable technology to assist with training. Wearable technology is an objective way to collect safety data. Sensors can capture moments that are often overlooked, such as near misses, incorrect posture, environmental temperature, and more. Use this data to identify work activities or employees that require additional safety training.
To ensure the safety of your employees, it’s important they are properly trained to perform their jobs. Providing this safety training helps your employees prepare for worst-case scenarios and avoid hazardous situations.
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