Education: The term "educate" originates from the Latin, Ed-u-cer-e (ey-doo-ker-ey), which means "that which leads out of ignorance." Education is anything that brings us out of ignorance and helps to improve our knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs).
John F. Rekes, PE, CIH, CSP, says it well: "Education is a process through which learners gain new understanding, acquire new skills, and/or change their attitudes."
Education in its broadest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on an individual’s mind, character, or physical ability. In its technical sense, education is how by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills, and values from one generation to another. (Wikipedia)
Training: Rekes goes on to describe training as "a more specialized form of education that focuses on developing or improving skills. While training incorporates educational theories, principles and practices, its focus is on performance. The goal of training is for learners to be able to do something new or better than before."
The outcome: The educational process can be quite complex and learning usually takes place on many levels. An educational program can be successful even if the learners can't do anything new or different at the end of the program.
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Safety education informs, persuades, and motivates students to be involved and work safely. The most important goal of safety education is to show why working safely is essential.
Why do you think most employees don't do what they are supposed to do in the workplace? It's because they don't know why it's important to do it! Consequently, the most important thing we can do as safety trainers is to make sure our students know why working safely is important.
What is the process we can use to make sure employees can most effectively educate to improve safety performance? We call it the KSA Education Process. It involves three basic strategies to educate employees to gain knowledge, increase their skills, and improve abilities: instruction, training, and experience.
General safety instruction is usually conducted as a course or meeting in the classroom, workfloor, or around the tailgate. Instruction may also be given through written notices, newsletters, or videos. Instruction may be quite effective when presenting required and "nice to know" information. For example, general safety instruction may include:
To document instruction, you usually only need an attendance roster. That's because students may not have to prove they've learned anything. If students have to demonstrate they've learned something, then an effective way to do that is with a written test because it formally documents proficiency. Remember, as far as OSHA is concerned, "If it isn't in writing, it didn't get done." This is another reason why it's important to purchase OSHAcademy certificates, cards, and transcripts.
Also, the only evaluation of training required for safety instruction is the student reaction survey. The survey gives trainers feedback about what learners thought about the training topic, the presentation, trainer qualifications, and how strongly the felt the training met their expectations.
Safety training differs from safety instruction because it focuses on improving "how-to" skills through practice. It takes what the student has learned during instruction and provides an opportunity, through practice, for the student to apply that knowledge.
An important consideration when developing safety instruction and training is determining if OSHA requires a "demonstration" of adequate employee knowledge and skills as part of the training.
Technical "hands-on-how-to" safety training that teaches employees how to do hazardous tasks and procedures is the most common type of safety education. The training may be quite specific and usually requires some form of student hands-on participation or practice.
Remember, even though a particular OSHA Standard does not specifically state or require that employees "demonstrate" proficiency, best practices in safety education may require that you include formal testing, hands-on practice, and a performance demonstration in a training session. Ensure you include hands-on practice and demonstration whenever employees may be injured on a job or if they have a deficiency in KSAs.
Click on the link to see a comprehensive list of OSHA training requirements.
Most OSHA training is technical by nature because it teaches employees how to do things. For instance, when reading about the training employers are required to provide regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) in 29 CFR 1910.132, we see that employers must cover the following topics:
OSHA prefers written exams to test student knowledge of the topic. More importantly, because there is a "how-to" requirement above, the training should include a skills demonstration to ensure each student can use the PPE properly.
More examples of hands-on technical safety training include:
This consensus standard establishes criteria for safety, health, and environmental training programs. Criteria includes program development, delivery, evaluation and program management.
According to ANSI 490.1, at a minimum a training program should include the following criteria:
The following information was adapted from 29 CFR 1910.120 Appendix E, Training Curriculum Guidelines - (Non-mandatory). Although written specifically for training hazardous waste operations, the core criteria may serve as an excellent template for your safety training program's design. In the next few sections, we will discuss the ten core criteria.
1. Training facility: The training facility should have sufficient resources available, equipment, and site locations to perform didactic and hands-on training when appropriate. Training facilities should have sufficient organization, support staff, and services to conduct training in each of the courses offered.
2. Training Director: Each training program should be under the direction of a training director responsible for the program. The Training Director should have a minimum of two years of employee education experience.
3. Instructors: Instructors should be deemed competent based on:
4. Course materials: The Training Director should approve all course materials to be used by the training provider. Course materials should be reviewed and updated at least annually. Materials and equipment should be in good working order and maintained properly. All written and audio-visual materials in the training curriculum should be peer reviewed by technically competent outside reviewers or by a standing advisory committee.
Reviewers should possess expertise in the following disciplines where applicable: occupational health, industrial hygiene and safety, chemical/environmental engineering, employee education, or emergency response. One or more of the peer reviewers should be an employee experienced in the work activities directed in the training.
5. The program for accepting students should include:
6. Ratios: Student-instructor ratios should not exceed 30 students per instructor. Hands-on activity requiring the use of personal protective equipment, testing equipment, or hazardous procedures should have instructor ratios of 5-10 students per instructor.
7. Proficiency assessment: Proficiency should be evaluated and documented using a written assessment and a skill demonstration selected and developed by the Training Director and training staff. The assessment and demonstration should evaluate the knowledge and individual skills developed in the course of training. It's important to understand that "individual," not "group" testing should be accomplished. Asking the "group" questions and receiving answers from one or more group members, is not acceptable.
The level of minimum achievement necessary for proficiency should be specified in writing by the Training Director as follows:
The content of the written test or skill demonstration must be relevant to the objectives of the course. The written test and skill demonstration should be updated to reflect changes in the curriculum, and the Training Director should review and approve any updates.
Regardless of the approach or combination of approaches used, the Training Director should justify, document, and approve the proficiency assessment methods. The proficiency of those taking the additional courses for supervisors should be evaluated and documented by using proficiency assessment methods accepted by the Training Director. These proficiency assessment methods must reflect the additional responsibilities borne of supervisory personnel in hazardous waste operations or emergency response.
8. Course certificate: Each student who satisfactorily completes the training course should be provided with documentation. Certificates and cards provide a permanent record of your training achievements and should be kept in the employee's possession.
The documentation should include:
This documentation may include a certificate and an appropriate wallet-sized card of the above information. When such course certificate cards are used, the training certificate's individual identification number should be shown on the card.
9. Recordkeeping: Training providers should maintain records listing the dates courses were presented, the names of the individual course attendees, the names of those students successfully completing each course, and the number of training certificates issued to each successful student. These records should be:
10. Program quality control: The Training Director should conduct or direct an annual written audit of the training program.
You can review the complete CFR 29 1910.120, Appendix E.
Download a Sample Training Plan (pdf format).
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Watch this short video that tells a story. Telling stories like this is one of the best ways to instill the importance of safety on employees. This Safety Memos video discusses a fatal accident that actually occurred in a workplace, and relate the factors and events that may have led to the worker getting killed.