By Jay Acker, Safety Services Company

At a loss for how to address safety training in your workplace? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) voluntary training guidelines emphasize the following concepts, which provide an organized framework for addressing any company’s safety training needs:

A. Determining if Employees Need Training and Identifying Specific Training Needs

When deciding whether your employees would benefit from safety training, first consider the nature of your industry and the job responsibilities of your employees. Employees working in office environments likely need less detailed training, whereas those working with machinery will always need some guidance on the proper procedures for operating the equipment. OSHA publishes statistics on the incidence of workplace injuries among different industries, and that data can help assess whether your employees need safety instruction. Also, reflect back on any past accidents and injuries, as well as any unsafe conditions that management or employees have detected prior to an accident occurring. Those will help you gauge whether your company has a grasp on the best way to maintain a safe working environment.

B. Identifying Goals and Developing Learning Activities

After determining that employees need training, employers should carefully identify the specific objectives of the training and outline how to present the information. The goals should focus on the core concepts that employees need to take away from training sessions. Presenters should clearly articulate those goals at the start of the training session, infuse them into the meeting’s activities, and review them as the session ends to help employees retain the material.

OSHA guidelines endorse an active approach to training. Presenters should avoid lectures and instead opt for a more interactive style where employees participate in the training process. For example, with employees who operate dangerous equipment, training should involve individuals going through the steps of safely using those machines. Similarly, employees who handle heavy objects should receive training on lifting techniques that minimize pressure on sensitive areas of the body. In addition, employees in any workplace can benefit from hands-on CPR training. In general, safety training should focus on the realities of each specific work environment.

C. Conducting the Training

Training instructors often have a difficult task ahead of them. Information on workplace safety is not the most exciting topic in the world, but presenters should make an effort to engage the audience as much as possible. Introducing humor and varying the mode of instruction can help in that regard. For example, mixing up videos, PowerPoint presentations, interactive games, and role playing demonstrations will avoid a sense of monotony. In addition, if employees discuss the information in small groups, they will likely retain the material. Try creating a hazardous scenario using previous accidents and ask the trainees to figure out what they would do.

D. Evaluating Program Effectiveness and Improving Training Procedures

Conduct anonymous surveys of employees to get their honest assessment of your training procedures. In addition, regularly consult accident reports to determine if safety instruction has helped lower the incidence of workplace injury. Following your training session is a good time. If not, the program needs modification. Finally, regard your workplace safety training curriculum as a work in process. Technological and cultural changes present new challenges and offer new solutions over time.

Rather than relying on outdated standards or fumbling through basic material that has little instructional value for the realities of your workplace, introduce innovative solutions to workplace safety issues by following OSHA’s training guidelines.

Jay Acker leads a production team at Safety Services Company. The company offers contractor verification assistance services along with a complete set of safety training materials.