Course 121 Introduction to Safety Training

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Trainer Qualifications and Course Development

ANSI Z490.1-2016 Instructor Qualifications

Trainers need to be competent and qualified to train safety.

Trainers should be "competent" in developing and implementing the various elements of a safety training program.

Trainers can gain competency by achieving an appropriate level of technical knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) in the subjects they teach. They can gain these skills through training, continuing education and, of course, on the job experience.

Trainers should be:

  • competent in effective safety training delivery techniques,
  • able to use methods that are appropriate to employee learning preferences, and
  • able to apply adult learning principles appropriate to the target audience and the learning objectives.

It's important to document trainer competency by maintaining course completion certificates, experience records, licensing, and other documents. The methods used to document trainer competency is left to the discretion of the employer.

1. According to ANSI 490.1, to be competent, safety trainers must have _____ .

a. a professional credential
b. adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs)
c. at least two years job experience
d. a formal college degree

Trainer Qualifications

Trainers need to have experience, training, and instructional competence.

Instructors should be deemed competent on the basis of the criteria below:

  1. They have previous documented experience in their area of instruction. Job descriptions, performance appraisals, and statements by co-workers or managers would help document previous experience.
  2. Successful completion of a "train-the-trainer" program specific to the topics they will teach. A typical train-the-trainer course will discuss best practices in adult training principles, and provide an opportunity to practice presenting instruction and training in the subject area they will be expected to train.
  3. They possess an evaluation of instructional competence by the Training Director. If you don't have a Training Director, the Human Resource Manager or another qualified trainer may evaluate the instructor's training skills.

OSHA rule 1910.120(e)(5) Qualifications for trainers: Trainers shall be qualified to instruct employees about the subject matter presented in training. Such trainers shall have satisfactorily completed a training program (train-the-trainer) for teaching the subjects they are expected to teach, or they shall have the academic credentials and instructional experience necessary for teaching the subjects. Instructors shall demonstrate competent instructional skills and knowledge of the applicable subject matter.

2. According to OSHA 1910.120, to be considered qualified, trainers must _____.

a. complete a "train-the-trainer" program
b. obtain a college degree in occupational safety
c. have certification from OSHA to train
d. complete the OSHA 10-Hour Outreach Training course

Trainer Evaluation and Annual Review

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To be most effective, everyone should be involved in safety training.

Instructors should be required to maintain professional competency by participating in continuing education or professional development programs or by successfully completing an annual refresher course and having an annual review by a training director or other competent manager.

The annual review should include an observation of the instructor's delivery, a review of those observations with the trainer, and an analysis of student evaluations during the previous year.

Source: 1910.120 App E, Training Curriculum Guidelines - (Non-mandatory)

Management Involvement

First-line supervisors and managers play a crucial role in safety and health protection because of their responsibility for workers and the work being performed. Effective training of supervisors and managers will address their safety and health management responsibilities as well as information on hazards identification, hazard prevention, and response to emergencies. Although they may have other safety and health responsibilities, supervisors and managers should be fully involved in training safety to send messages of strong personal leadership to employees.

Bottom line: Only if supervisors have adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities (SKAs) needed to train safety requirements, can they effectively supervise for compliance with those safety requirements.

3. Supervisors are able to effectively supervise employee for safety compliance only if they _____.

a. demonstrate tough-controlling leadership in safety
b. always discipline employees who violate safety rules
c. have adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities (SKAs) needed to train
d. do not get personally involved with teaching safety

Course Development

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Is training really the answer? The employee may, or may not have adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Throughout the rest of this module, we will discuss the various principles and best practices of developing safety instruction and hands-on training. For a more complete discussion, see OSHAcademy courses 721 Developing Safety Training and 723 Conducting Safety Training.

Is Training the Answer?

The first step in the safety training development process is a basic one; ask questions to determine if training can solve a problem. Whenever employees do not perform their jobs safely, we might assume training will bring them up to standard. However, training may not actually be the solution.

Let's say supervisors in the maintenance department come to you and complain that their employees are not using safe work procedures. Your first assumption might be that they need training. Don't just roll over and agree with that assumption. It is possible that the supervisors may need to accomplish one or more of the following non-training strategies to help make sure their employees use safe procedures:

  • use engineering controls to correct existing hazards;
  • provide adequate resources to work safely; or
  • adequately enforce safety rules.

Who knows, maybe the supervisors, themselves, need the training! Let's not always assume employee safety training is the solution for unsafe behavior.

Check out the online decision-tree checklist exercise at the end of this module to ask the right questions if someone requests safety training. You can download a similar checklist (pdf) to help you determine if training is the answer to a performance problem.

4. What is the first step in the safety training development process?

a. Determine the number of employees to be trained
b. Develop training goals and objectives
c. Ask if training can solve the problem
d. Determine the anticipated length of the course

Necessary Training

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If training is the answer, find out what is necessary for employees to learn and do.

If the problem can be solved in whole or in part by training, the next step is to determine what training is needed. For this, it is necessary to identify what the employee is expected to do and in what ways, if any, the employee's performance is deficient.

When designing a new training program, or preparing to instruct an employee in an unfamiliar procedure or system, a job hazard analysis can be developed by examining engineering data on new equipment or the safety data sheets on unfamiliar substances. The content of the specific OSHA standards applicable to a business can also provide direction in developing training content.

If learning needs can be met by revising an existing training program rather than developing a new one, or if employees already have some knowledge of the process or system to be used, appropriate training content can be developed through such means as:

  1. Requesting employees to provide descriptions of their jobs, including the tasks performed and the tools, materials, and equipment used.
  2. Observing employees at the worksite as they perform tasks, asking about the work, and recording their answers.
  3. Examining similar training programs offered by other companies in the same industry, or obtaining suggestions from such organizations as the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), National Safety Council (NSC), and insurer and OSHA consultants.

Employees can provide valuable information on the training they need. Employee responses to the following can help identify safety and health hazards:

  • If anything about their jobs frightens them;
  • If they have had any near-miss incidents;
  • If they think they are taking risks; or
  • If they believe their jobs involve hazardous operations or substances.

5. What is an effective method for developing a curriculum for procedures for which employees are unfamiliar?

a. Purchase a video on the topic
b. Conduct a job hazard analysis of the procedure
c. Look for previous training on the topic
d. Check for information online

Supervisor and Manager Safety Training

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It's vitally important supervisors and managers understand their safety responsibilities.

Some organizations consider the safety and health function as a human resource or staff responsibility. They fail to understand safety as an integrated part of overall operations (production or service). Even worse, they believe safety education is not required for line managers because it's not a "line" responsibility: it's a "staff" function. Consequently, some employers may not adequately educate managers about general safety and health concepts and how to apply them in the workplace.

Managers who understand both the manner and the extent to which effective safety and health protection impacts the overall effectiveness of the business itself are far more likely to ensure that the necessary safety and health management programs are designed and performed well.

First-line supervisors play a critical role in safety and health protection because of their first-line responsibility for workers and for the work their employees perform. Effective training of supervisors will address their safety and health responsibilities as well as information on hazards, hazard prevention, and response to emergencies. Click the button below to see a short list of topics for supervisor safety training.

  • how to conduct a safety inspection
  • hazards in their specific workplace
  • how to conduct an accident investigation
  • how to properly recognize and discipline employees
  • what is safety leadership
  • how to conduct a Job Hazard Analysis
  • how to apply hazard control strategies
  • introduction to the safety management system
  • how to conduct on-the-job training (OJT)

6. Why may management not place adequate emphasis on safety training for managers and supervisors?

a. Only "exposed" employees need safety training
b. Safety is just the "cost of doing business"
c. They believe safety is a "staff" responsibility
d. OSHA does not require training for managers

Writing Goals and Objectives

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An objective is more than a mere wish.

One of the most important, yet for some, the most challenging activities in the training process is writing clear-cut, competency-based learning objectives that describe what the learner will be able to do at the end of the training session. Some trainers believe goals and objectives are the same things; not so. Let's take a look.


A goal is nothing more than a wish. We've all stated goals like, "I wish I could lose some weight," from time to time. Goals are broad in the sense that they state general intentions. They are not specific enough to be measured. There are two basic types of goals:

  • A training goal is a general statement about what the trainer wants to do. It states how the trainer will achieve the intended outcome of training.
  • A learning goal is a general statement about what each student know and/or do after training. It summarizes what the learner, not the trainer, will know or be able to do.
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This lesson plan states the objective at the top.
Click to Enlarge.


Objectives are much more specific than goals. Objectives state observable measurable outcomes describing what we do and how well we do it.

  • A training objective is a specific statement describing what the trainer will do during training. For instance, a training objective might state: "During the first hour of the training session, the trainer, given a full-face respirator, will discuss and perform each step of the respirator don-doff procedure."
  • A learning objective is a specific statement describing what the learner will know and/or can do after training. For example, a learning objective might state: "By the end of training, each student, when given a full-face respirator, will be able to correctly perform all steps of the don-doff procedure."

Writing learning objectives is required by ANSI Z490.1 guidelines when hazardous procedures and practices are taught. Virtually all technical safety training involves testing.

7. The statement, "By the end of training, the student will be able to describe all steps in the equipment lockout/tagout procedure," is an example of a _____.

a. training goal
b. learning goal
c. training objective
d. learning objective

Learn by Doing!

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Adults learn by doing, so make your training "hands-on" to be most effective.

Once the objectives for the training are precisely stated, then learning activities can be identified and described. Remember, when OSHA uses the terms "demonstrate" in their standards, the intent is that employees must be able to prove they can do something by actually doing it in the learning environment. This means you'll need to include a "hands-on" learning activity to show employees how to do things. It also means you'll need to give them a chance to practice.

Training Presentation Strategies

You now know what subjects you're going to present, but which presentation strategy will work best for you? Click on the button below to review a number of training presentation strategies.

  • Formal classroom training: In many cases, formal in-house training or training from an external source can quickly train learners when needed.
  • On-the-job training (OJT): OJT is considered the best overall training strategy since most safety training requires that employees demonstrate (prove) adequate knowledge and skill to perform procedures and practices. Companies must train employees before exposure! Conducting a simulated procedure or task in the learning environment is the only to certify adequate knowledge and skills to perform hazardous tasks without exposing the employee to actual hazards.
  • Mini training sessions: This method is perhaps the best method to keep employees up on the latest changes to OSHA standards and changes in company policy, procedures, and rules. Mini training sessions, tailgate meetings, and safety meetings can be as short as five minutes or up to 30 minutes.
  • Distance learning: This learning strategy is growing in popularity because employees can fit short training sessions on the computer into their home or work schedules. Distance learning is primarily instruction. Many OSHA training standards require hands-on demonstration of skills using specific equipment.

8. What is considered the best overall safety training strategy?

a. On-the-job training (OJT)
b. Formal classroom training
c. Distance learning
d. Tail-gate meetings

Important Training Requirements

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Retraining is necessary only if employees lack knowledge, skills, or abilities (KSAs).

No matter the training strategy used, it is essential to ensure employees get practice before being exposed to actual hazards in the work environment. Some of the key requirements are stated or implied in OSHA rules. Three of the most important are:

  • Demonstration: Workers should be able to have the ability to demonstrate that they have both the knowledge and ability to safely perform a hazardous task or procedure safely before they are allowed to begin work. The tests to determine if students have adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) is as follows:
    • If they can actually teach the instructor how to perform a procedure, they have demonstrated adequate knowledge. To prove employees have adequate skills, the instructor can evaluate employees in the learning environment.
    • To determine an employee’s abilities, a competent person can evaluate the employee while performing the workplace procedure.
  • Retraining: Any time the employer believes a worker lacks adequate knowledge, skills, or ability to perform a task safely, that worker should receive retraining to improve their proficiency.
  • Certification: Employees who must perform a hazardous task or procedure should be certified as "qualified" by the employer. In most instances an attendance roster, by itself, will not be considered adequate documentation for most safety training. Ultimately, the employer is responsible for certification. It's also important to realize that OSHA does not "certify" anyone qualified to do anything... they just don't do it.

9. What can students do to prove to instructors that they have adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a hazardous procedure?

a. The class reviews all questions on the exam correctly
b. They pass a written test with a score of 70% or higher
c. They can each teach the instructor how to do it
d. The class can answer oral questions as a group
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Congratulations! You've got your certificate.

Documenting the Training

The employer needs to keep complete and accurate records of all safety and health training by the provider (like OSHAcademy) because more than 100 OSHA Standards require it. It's also recommended by ANSI Z490.1. Here are just a few reasons why strong documentation is important:

  • Records can provide evidence of the employer's good faith effort to comply with OSHA standards.
  • Strong documentation can also help the employer defend against claims of negligence.
  • Documentation can also supply an answer to one of the first questions an OSHA accident investigator will ask: "Was the injured employee adequately trained to do the job?"

Attendance Rosters

If a class or safety meeting presents general information related to safety, an attendance roster will likely satisfy documentation requirements. If a class or safety meeting includes testing, document the results.

Formal Certification of Training

When safety training requires employees to demonstrate adequate knowledge, skills, and ability to perform hazardous tasks or procedures, an attendance roster may not be legally sufficient to document the training.

Technical safety instruction and training should include written certification. This involves issuing a certificate of competency or qualification. Click on the button to see the recommended information to include in a written training certification.

Written training certification should include:

  • a trainee statement that they were provided opportunity to ask questions and perform procedures and practices;
  • a trainee statement of intent to comply with the procedures, practices, policies, and rules;
  • a trainee statement of understanding that failure to comply may result in discipline;
  • a trainer statement that trainees, through testing, demonstrated adequate knowledge;
  • a trainer statement that they conducted a measurement (testing) of knowledge and skills and that trainees met or exceeded required levels of performance;
  • a list or description of the specific training subject(s). Describe the safety procedures, practices, policies, rules addressed in training;
  • a list or description of the specific procedures practiced in the learning environment; and
  • a certification - a place for trainee, trainer, and supervisor signatures

Last words: As far as OSHA is concerned, if it isn't in writing, it didn't get done! Thoroughly document training.

10. When safety training requires employees to perform hazardous tasks or procedures, the training is most effectively documented _____.

a. with an attendance roster
b. with a written certification
c. immediately after training is completed
d. using OSHA-approved forms

Check your Work

Click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and recheck your answers.


Training or Discipline: Which is Appropriate?

You can download a similar checklist (pdf) to help you determine if training is the answer to a performance problem.

Final Exam
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