Let’s imagine you were given an unknown, brand-new tool to construct a wooden wall with. Without instructions, you could try to figure out how to use this new tool through a process of trial-and-error. You might even determine the correct way to use the tool eventually, but not after making many mistakes along the way. This may take a few hours or even a few days – but just imagine how much simpler it would be to build that wooden wall if you had someone show you how to use that tool the moment you got it.

Safety processes are a bit like this mysterious tool, except there is no trial-and-error; if an employee makes an “error” with their harness on 5th-story scaffolding, they could lose their life.

While that may feel melodramatic, dying on the job is a very real concern for employees in high-risk industries. While mandated safety programs have done a tremendous job in reducing workplace injuries and fatalities, minimal standards won’t cut it. 971 construction workers were killed in 2017 – and that’s with mandatory safety programs enforced by law.

Identifying hazards, creating preventative processes, and even presenting compelling PowerPoint isn’t enough to create an employee safety program that will truly keep your employees safe. Real training is what will trigger that muscle-memory needed to help an employee remember to attach his harness correctly on 5th-story scaffolding – not procedures on paper.

Don’t just hand employees jargon, procedures, and manuals – show them how to truly stay safe by making training an integral part of your safety programs.

OSHA’s Definition

According to OSHA, safety education and training serves the following:

“Education and training provides employers, managers, supervisors, and workers with:

  • Knowledge and skills needed to do their work safely and avoid creating hazards that could place themselves or others at risk.
  • Awareness and understanding of workplace hazards and how to identify, report, and control them.
  • Specialized training, when their work involves unique hazards.”

However, we know this still isn’t enough – 5,147 workers died on the job in 2017. This loss of life is preventable. Every single employee needs to be trained extensively on how to remain safe while working.

How to Improve Employee Safety Training

Training employees is crucial when implementing an employee safety program. Here are a few ways to ensure your safety training modules are as effective as possible:

1. Involve Employees In Creating & Improving Training Methods

Nobody understands their unique hazards better than the on-the-ground workers experiencing them on a daily basis. Whether it’s to point out how on-paper procedures wouldn’t work in the real world, or to raise concerns about an un-discussed hazard, involving employees in the creation of training methods will only improve the program.

2. Create Specialized Training Modules For Unique Roles

Don’t provide vanilla safety training for your workforce. Every department needs specialized, tailored training modules for their unique hazards – and then every employee within that department may even need further unique training. Instead of training metalworkers how to stay safe when working around hot metal, train your metalworkers how to stay safe around molten steel in the confines of the plant’s furnace room while wearing full PPE.

3. Ensure Managers Experience Their Employee’s Training

This one is simple: if managers and supervisors are overseeing a set of employees and are responsible for the health and well-being of those employees, then the manager/supervisor needs to understand every component involved in maintaining their safety. This should include undergoing their employee’s training themselves.

4. Continually Test & Train

Information decays in our minds when we don’t continually reinforce and renew that information. An incredibly effective way to reinforce the retention of important safety information is to test your employees on a regular basis in varying ways. This can be on-the-job tests when appropriate and safe, or actual paper testing. Either way, make sure this testing remains positive – we don’t recommend using these as negative reinforcement indicators.

For help implementing effective safety training programs within your own organization, today, please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone at 630.759.9908 or by email at Info@Optimum-USA.com.

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