We don't think you need convincing about the importance of training employees on safe work procedures. You wouldn't be taking this course unless you appreciated instruction and training. In this module, we'll cover your safety instruction and training responsibilities, the safety topics that need to be trained, and the best way to train them. The primary goal of safety education is to shape attitudes. Why? Well, a very important relationship exists among education, attitudes, and behavior.
Safety instruction affects attitudes.
Attitudes, in turn, shape behaviors.
Formal safety instruction and training are important in improving an employee's ability to work safely. Instruction is important because it gives a person knowledge about safety and why it is necessary. Safety instruction does this by emphasizing the natural and system consequences of personal behaviors, actions, and activities. Safety educators call this, "tying safety training to accountability." What are the natural and system consequences we're talking about?
Natural consequences explain how employees will physically suffer if they fail to comply with safe behaviors. "If you don't use the harness, you'll probably be killed if you fall."
System consequences explain how employee behaviors will result in discipline and recognition/reward for their behaviors. "If you fail to use the harness, you'll be terminated from employment. If you consistently use the harness you will be recognized and rewarded."
Training, on the other hand, primarily tells the learner "how" to do something. It gives an employee the knowledge and, through practice, the skills to actually accomplish safe work procedures. Both education and training are necessary components in every training presentation.
In his book, "Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed to Do", Ferdinand F. Fournies states that the number one reason employees do not perform to expected standards is that they don't know why they should do them. The second most common reason is that employees do not know how to do the task correctly. Education and training, when applied together, strike at both of these causes for substandard performance.
To best ensure safety education and training is given to all workers, supervisors should be assigned safety training responsibilities. And, because we are often driven by potential consequences in our actions and behaviors, training without accountability is always ineffective.
Here's why: any educator, instructor, or trainer will tell you that every time they present a session, they learn more and gain greater understanding of the subject. Seriously, if you can't teach safety, how can you supervise safety?
As a supervisor trains, he/she gains greater insight and expertise on the procedure or process he/she are training. Consequently, he/she is better qualified to supervise for safety and more confidently manage accountability. Workers will more likely perceive their supervisors as competent and knowledgeable in safety as well as other operations. "Hey, I can't get away with anything." Isn't this a perceived consequence that shapes employee behaviors?
As a supervisor, your employer may assign training responsibilities to you. If you train, or delegate the training to another person in your department, it's important to incorporate safety into the training. Initial safety orientation should occur when new workers are hired, and more specific safety training must take place prior to workers starting any job that exposes them to a safety hazard.
It's important that your company educates new workers about your safety standards and expectations immediately after being hired. Two primary reasons new employees require initial safety orientation are associated with the concepts of common sense and corporate culture.
Safety meetings or "tailgate" meetings can be a great time to do some safety training. It doesn't have to be long, just relevant!
One mistake a supervisor may make is to assume that a new worker has common sense about workplace safety. Webster's dictionary states that common sense is the "ability to make sound judgments."
But, does common sense actually exist? Good question, so let's take a look at how common sense is developed.
How do we develop our "sense" of things in our environment? Primarily through formal education, observation, and personal experience. Is that education, observation, and experience the same for everyone? I think we can agree that each individual obtains very unique life experiences and education. What's the result? An individuals unique sense about our environment (the way things are, how to act, and what actions are appropriate).
I remember one student in class who firmly stated that I was full of baloney. I asked her to give me an example of common sense. She responded that, "everyone knows what to do if someone is choking." I asked her what that might be. She said, "Well, the Heimlich maneuver." I asked the class how many of them knew how to do the procedure. Some, but not all, of the students raised their hands. I rested my case.
Another mistake that a supervisor may make is to assume that the corporate culture (standards and expectations) of a new worker's previous employer is similar to their own. Such may not be the case. A new worker may have been exposed to an entirely different set of expectations and standards at their previous place of employment- and they will bring these standards with them. If you ask a new employee if they know safe work procedures for a given task, they may reply positively, but the reply is based upon the previous company's procedure which may be quite different from the procedures required by your company.
Because a new worker may lack the necessary individual sense to work safely in a particular workplace, it's important to adequately educate and train every new employee before they actually start work. Each employee needs to know why and how to do accomplish a procedure your way from the start.
The answer to that question depends on the nature of the hazards present in your workplace. Let's divide the answer into two categories:
General and specific safety topics should be trained before new employees start work.
Be sure your organization is familiar with OSHA training requirements.
Workers should demonstrate that they have both the knowledge and ability to perform a task safely before they are allowed to begin work.
Any time the supervisor thinks a worker has inadequate knowledge or ability to perform a task safely, that worker should receive retraining.
The "show and tell" model for on-the-job training has been, and is still, the best method for training specific safety procedures. Measurement occurs throughout this process while keeping the employee safe from injury while learning. If, in using this training method, the employee is not exposed to hazards that could cause injury, you may be able to delete step 3. Otherwise do not skip a step.
The instructor tells the trainee about the training. At this time, the instructor emphasizes the importance of the procedure to the success of the production/service goals, invites questions, and emphasizes accountability.
In this step, the student becomes familiar with safe work practices in each step and why they are important. The trainer explains and demonstrates each step, and responds to any questions the learner might have. The trainer continues to demonstrate and explain each step until the learner understands what to do, when and why to do it, and how to do it.
The student tells the instructor how to do the procedure, while the instructor does it. It's important to include this step if injury is possible; otherwise, this step is optional. There is an opportunity for the instructor to discover any misunderstanding and, at the same time, protects the student because the instructor still performs the procedure.
Now it's the student's turn. To further protect the employee, the Instructor must give permission for the student to perform each step. The student carries out the procedure but remains protected because he or she explains the process before actually performing the procedure.
Once the formal training is finished, the trainer should:
Remind the employee about their responsibilities and accountability by discussing the natural consequences (hurt/health) and system consequences (reprimand/reward).
After the conclusion of the OJT session, the trainer, or better yet, the supervisor should observe the employee applying what they've learned in the actual work environment. Doing so results in strong documentation that helps to legally protect both the employee being trained and the employer.
Tip: To prove the employee has the knowledge and skills to a job safely, have the employee teach you how to do the job. If the employee can effectively train you how to do the job, he or she is qualified and you can sign them off. If they can't, you should not qualify them; it's time for some retraining.
By the way, When OSHA inspects, the compliance officer may ask employees about the job they are doing. The employees won't be able to hide their ignorance and it won't take long for the compliance officer to determine if the employee is qualified to do the job.
The well-known OSHA adage, "if it isn't in writing, it didn't get done," is true for any kind of safety training. For OJT training, documentation should be more than an attendance sheet.
To document the training, the trainee certifies:
The instructor certifies the trainee has:
Safety education and training are vitally important, not only to the welfare of each employee, but to the long term survival of the organization. Safety professionals would do well to make a strong commitment to make sure a successful safety education and training system is integrated into all corporate functions.
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