Workplace safety training programs are a necessity across all industries. In addition to reducing the amount of injuries in the workplace, businesses will benefit from fewer worker’s compensation claims (which will result in less paperwork and lower insurance premiums), as well as higher employee productivity and morale. And, of course, these programs are required by law.
Still, creating effective workplace safety training programs like these can seem like a daunting task for many business owners. They require a lot of time and effort, but the payoff is well worth it. And in reality, the overall process is the same, regardless of your specialty or size. If you follow these steps, you’ll have a consistent training program that keeps your workers safe and your business running smoothly.
Step 1: Determine Your Needs
The first thing to realize is that not all safety hazards can be eliminated, even with the highest level of safety training. Some threats simply cannot be addressed with training. But you can better prepare your employees to deal with these hazards properly. To do that, you need to assess the causes of the safety issues within your work environment.
Training won’t necessarily make a difference if there’s a physical equipment defect that presents itself. Therefore, you may need to invest in ways to fix these defects in addition to training. But many accidents can be attributed to a lack of employee knowledge when operating equipment, especially when it comes to proper safety procedures. In addition, a poor attitude or lack of personal motivation among your employees could contribute to accidents. While training can tackle many of these issues, you may also need to focus on improving your company culture to get to the root of the problem.
Step 2: Analyze Your Hazards
You won’t be helping your employees or your business by including irrelevant training or leaving out vital information. Your training program needs to address the specific hazards your employees face. This is why a job hazard analysis is key. This analysis will determine what those particular threats are and where the knowledge gaps lie within your own workforce. A job hazard analysis will identify possible hazards during each step your employees take in completing their given tasks. This analysis will be turned into a document or spreadsheet, which will serve as the foundation of your training program. It will outline where your employees experience issues with safety or where they simply don’t have the information they need. You can use this document to see which areas need to be given high priority within your training.
In addition, this analysis lets your employees know that you’re taking safety procedures seriously. It introduces your workers to the concept and allows them to voice their concerns and ask questions. Since getting your employees involved is critical to the success of any workplace safety training program, you should encourage and carefully consider their input throughout the creation process.
Step 3: Develop Your Materials
It’s important to keep your audience (i.e., your employees) in mind when designing your training program. The way in which you present these training materials depends greatly on the type of work you do, the problems you face, and on how your business is structured. Training materials used for construction crews serve different needs than those used for those working at an IT company. Some training can be better conveyed with large groups, but other procedures may be better explained with one-on-one training sessions. You’ll need to assess which methods will be the most effective for the material at hand, as well as who receives the presentation. Keep in mind that hands-on presentations with opportunities to demonstrate and practice are often most effective.
You’ll also need to consider who is best equipped to present this information. While a business owner or supervisor may be well-suited to instruct in certain cases, an outside instructor may be a better choice for other businesses.
Ultimately, regardless of presentation or material type, these training sessions need to be relevant to the jobs and situations your employees will encounter on the job. You neither want to waste your employees’ time nor leave out information that could keep them safe.
Step 4: Schedule Your Training
Now that your materials have been developed, you can start scheduling these sessions. Regardless of whether you run them yourself or hire someone outside the company, the information you present needs to be organized, clear, and relevant. Provide real-life examples that your employees can relate to and encourage their participation in both the training itself and discussions you hold afterwards. You’ll also want to be sure to follow up in the days before and after to reinforce everything that’s covered.
During training, make it clear that safety is everyone’s concern. Employees and managers on every level have an equal responsibility to maintain a safe work environment. While you may provide them with equipment and training to help them stay safe, your employees are responsible for using that equipment and putting their knowledge to good use. You should have a zero-accident goal, so make sure your employees understand there is no such thing as an “acceptable loss.”
Step 5: Evaluate Your Results
In reality, providing these training sessions is just one part of the program. You need to make sure the program you’ve devised is actually effective. One way is to ask your employees for their honest feedback. This can be done through anonymous surveys or through discussions. You’ll also need to check in regularly with your supervisors to see whether behaviors and attitudes have shifted since these sessions were held.
In the end, the proof is in the pudding. Your long-term safety data provides the ultimate evidence as to whether conditions have improved. If your accident rates or “near miss” reports have decreased, you’ll know you’re onto something.
Step 6: Continue Your Efforts
Even if your training program has showed positive results, you’ll need to implement it as a regular part of your company routine. And along the way you’ll undoubtedly find ways to improve as new problems emerge and new employees are hired. If you don’t stay on top of these things, then the safety of your environment can fall by the wayside due to equipment amendments or employee turnover.
Therefore, you need to continue your employee training and ensure that everyone within the company is on the same page. Evaluate how you can make these sessions even more impactful. Refer back to your job hazard analysis and other data you have at your disposal. Expect that your program will change over time; eventually, it won’t require drastic alterations -- just small tweaks here and there.
Remember that employee culture and habits won’t change right away. But if you analyze the situation carefully, get your employees on-board, and keep a watchful eye on the problems to which your environment is prone, you can create a workplace safety program that will benefit your business in countless ways.
This guest post was contributed by Transportation Safety Apparel for Workplace Safety Group