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

Element 7: Education and Training


All of these impact our safety performance.
All of these impact our safety performance.
(Click to enlarge)

This module will introduce you to general OSHA requirements for safety education and training. However, we will emphasize "getting beyond compliance" by addressing best practices in effective safety and health education programs. To learn more about safety education and training, be sure to complete OSHAcademy Course 703, Introduction to OSH Training.

The Big Picture

Safety education, as the integration of instruction, training, and experience, is extremely important to ensure all other processes in your company's safety and health management system are effective. If this critical element is inadequate or missing, none of the other system elements can, or will be effective. But, this element is often neglected or managed ineffectively because the benefits may not be obvious, immediate, tangible, or directly related to profits. Managers may find it difficult to see the long-term improvements in process and product quality that result from an effective safety education and training program. It's hard to see the accidents that don't actually happen.

1. Why might management give safety training less support and commitment than it deserves?

a. OSHA doesn't have local offices
b. Managers see safety as self-sustaining
c. Benefits may not be immediate and tangible
d. Safety slows down work too much

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OSHA Training Requirements

OSHA Training Requirements Overview -

OSHA's training requirements are found within each of the five categories of OSHA standards: General Industry, Maritime, Construction, Agriculture, and Federal Employee Programs.

OSHA has many types of educational materials in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and other languages available in print or online. These include:

  • Brochures/booklets;
  • Fact Sheets;
  • Guidance documents that provide detailed examinations of specific safety and health issues;
  • Online Safety and Health Topics pages;
  • Posters;
  • QuickCards™ that provide brief safety and health information; and
  • QuickTakes, OSHA's free, twice-monthly online newsletter with the latest news about OSHA initiatives and products to assist employers and workers in finding and preventing workplace hazards. To sign up for QuickTakes, visit OSHA's Quicktakes Page.

To view materials available online or for a listing of free publications, visit OSHA's Publications Page. You can also call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) to order publications. OSHA's web site also has information on job hazards and injury and illness prevention for employers and workers. To learn more about OSHA's safety and health resources online, visit OSHA's A-Z Index Page.

OSHA's training requirements guide, Training Requirements in OSHA Standards and Training Guidelines (PDF), is must-have publication for anyone responsible for the company's safety training program. This booklet covers many OSHA training requirements and also gives you some ideas on training strategies.

2. Training requirements may be found in each of the five OSHA industry standards, EXCEPT _____.

a. General Industry
b. Transportation
c. Agriculture
d. Construction

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Beyond OSHA compliance

We want to make sure you firmly understand that, to be effective, your program must include safety instruction and safety training. But, how do the objectives differ between instruction and training?

Education vs Training
Education tells us WHY. Training shows us HOW.

Education, Training, and Experience

The learning process may be thought of as including three basic components: safety instruction, hands-on training, and experience in the workplace. Instruction and hands-on training are usually integrated in the learning process, followed by experience in what has been learned. However, it's important to know that they each have a different purpose.

The KSA Education Process

So, what is the process we can use to make sure employees can most effectively educated to improve safety performance? We call it the KSA Education Process, and it involves three basic strategies to educate employees so they can gain knowledge, increase their skills, and improve abilities: instruction, training, and experience.

  1. Instruction transfers Knowledge. This is where the educational process begins. We must know something before we can do something.
  2. Training provides initial Skills. Once we know something, we can focus on learning how to do something.
  3. Experience over time improves Abilities Learners gain experience outside the classroom, where the "real education" occurs. Only with experience will we improve our overall performance.

We'll focus primarily on the first two components of the educational process in this module. But first, we'll look in the next section at the psychological process of being educated. Understanding the underlying psychology of the process of being educated will help us understand that everything we experience, both internally and externally, educates us.

When employees know both why safety is important and how to work safely, they will demonstrate personal safety leadership by working safely, even when performing hazardous tasks when working alone. For example, Gary, a recent OSHAcademy student wrote:

"I stress to my co-workers that a life jacket is mandatory on deck. We hired a young guy who was a swimmer in college. He felt his swimming skills were such that he did not need the jacket. We educated him on hypothermia and that he could not save himself if he fell over in 35 degree water. Once he understood the hazard, he wore the jacket at all times, because he wanted to, not because he had to."

3. When will employees most likely demonstrate personal safety leadership when working alone?

a. When they know they'll get in trouble for being unsafe
b. When they know how to do a task safely
c. When the don't think they can get away with taking shortcuts
d. When they know why and how safety is important

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Education tells us why.  Training shows us how.
Employees must know why.
He's suffering the natural consequence of missing the nail.
He's suffering the natural consequence of missing the nail.
He's suffering a system consequence after violating a safet rule.
He's suffering a system consequence after violating a safety rule.

Educate to Show Why

There are many definitions for education. Within the context of occupational safety and health, education describes who, what, where, when, and most importantly why safety procedure and practice are necessary. By transferring knowledge through instruction, this part in the educational process informs, persuades, and motivates to affect attitude.

The number one reason employees don't follow safety rules is that they don't know why they are important!

To make sure safety education is effective, it's necessary to tie the resulting performance to consequences. One of the most effective ways to do this is to emphasize the natural and system consequences that result from the appropriate application of what's being learned. Consequences represent the why in safety education.

Natural consequences describe the type of injury/illness that might result if we don't follow procedures. For instance:

  • An employee breaks an arm or leg as the result of a fall.
  • An employee escapes injury by properly using a personal fall arrest system.

System consequences describe the organizational response to performance. For instance:

  • An employee would be subject to a disciplinary process for failing to comply with safety rules.
  • An employee might be recognized for meeting goals or exceeding expectations.

Remember, we do what we do in the workplace because of the consequences. Safety education must make consequences clear.

4. What is one of the most important ways to make sure safety education is effective?

a. Repeat the safety rules
b. Emphasize the consequences
c. Use powerpoints and show videos
d. Keep the education session short

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Training goals show us how to do something.
Training should be "hands-on and how-to."

Train To Show How

As we mentioned earlier, safety training has, as its ultimate goal, to provide the skills employees need to work safely. The most effective way to do that is through "hands-on-how-to" demonstration and practice. This is especially important when learning how to perform hazardous tasks.

For instance, you may show how to safely accomplish the steps of a particular task or procedure by:

  • practicing lockout/tagout procedures of a machine prior to servicing or maintenance.
  • going through the steps in cleaning up an incidental chemical spill.
  • performing confined space entry team procedures in a simulated confined space.

5. What is the most effective training method to improve employee skills in performing hazardous tasks?

a. Video and written exams
b. Lecture
c. Hands-on demonstration and practice
d. Asking questions

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The Importance of Instruction

Employees must know why safety is important.
Employees must know why safety is important.

Earlier we said that instruction tells why safety is important. In safety and health, knowing why safety is important can save a person's life. By far, the most common reason workers do not follow safety rules (or any rule) is that they don't understand why doing so is important. They don't understand the consequences.

For instance, your company probably has a list of safety rules that they ask you to read when you are first hired. Did anyone discuss each rule with you at that time, and why that rule was important to follow? Maybe not. (There's always an exception to this, and if you are one, congratulations!) If you only have a list of rules, you may want to suggest incorporating a short paragraph explaining why the rules are important. Don't assume it's obvious.

If your company attempts to institute change in any part of the safety and health program (or any other program), the effort will fail if the company only trains people how to change without educating in such a way that not only informs, but also motivates and persuades workers that the change is necessary and in everyone's' best interest.

6. What is the most common reason workers fail to follow safety rules at work?

a. They don't know why the rules are important
b. They are confused by too many rules
c. Others never follow the rules
d. They don't care about the rules

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"Show and Tell"

On-the-job safety training works!
On-the-job safety training works!

Safety education doesn't have to be difficult or expensive: it's not rocket science. So, what is the best and most common method to train specific safety procedures? On-the-job show and tell.

The Safe On-The-Job Training (OJT) Process

Hands-on-How-To safety training should be simple, safe, and completed where the actual procedure is performed. Hopefully the supervisor - the person responsible for their workers' safety - is involved in the training. Why? Well, if a supervisor doesn't have the personal knowledge and skills to train safe procedures, how can he or she properly supervise, recognize inadequate skills, and effectively hold employees accountable for their performance?

In the next few tabs, we'll discuss the seven-steps in the safe OJT training process that makes sure learners don't get hurt while being trained: That might sound funny, but it's happened. You'll notice in Step 4 that the learner must get permission to continue so he or she doesn't get hurt.

7. Why should a supervisor have adequate knowledge and skills on the procedures his or her employees perform?

a. He or she can't supervise a procedure if not trained on the procedure
b. To make sure he or she knows who to blame if something goes wrong
c. So the supervisor can properly track work
d. Because OSHA requires supervisors be trained on all procedures

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"Show and Tell" (Continued)

gsg image learner-trainer
In Step 1, the trainer introduces the procedure and expectations.

Step 1: Introduction

During this first step, the trainer discusses the learning objectives and answers any questions the learner might have. The trainer should:

  • Describe the procedure that's going to trained.
  • Discuss the acceptable standards of knowledge and performance.
  • Emphasize the importance of the procedure to the success of the production/service goals.
  • Invite questions and concerns learners might have about the procedure.
  • Emphasize the "why" by covering natural and system consequences of their performance after training.
gsg image trainer-learner
This step is mostly instructional.
Click to enlarge.

Step 2: Trainer Shows and Tells

In this step the learner becomes familiar with safe work practices in each step of the procedure 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. But, you might ask how the trainer can know the employee understands the procedure completely? Easy, if the employee can correctly restate each step in the procedure, and how to do it, the trainer can be sure the employee has adequate knowledge.

8. In Step 2 of the OJT procedure, how can the trainer know the learner has adequate knowledge of the steps in a procedure?

a. The learner can correctly restate each step
b. The learner says he or she knows the steps
c. The learner correctly answers a question or two
d. The learner nods agreement with each step

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"Show and Tell" (Continued)

Step 3: Learner Tells and Trainer Shows

gsg image learner-trainer
In this step, the learner instructs the trainer.
Click to enlarge.

This is the "safe" step that tests the learner's knowledge. This step is only necessary when exposure to hazards inherent in the procedure could cause injury, illness or equipment damage. It protects the trainee because the trainer performs the procedure. It also tells the instructor if the learner actually has the knowledge to perform the step. If the procedure is not hazardous in any way, you can skip to Step 4.

  • The learner first explains the step to the trainer. If the explanation is correct, the trainer performs the step. This gives the trainer an opportunity to discover if the learner understands the step.
  • If the learner directs the trainer to perform a step incorrectly, the trainer can stop, question the learner and review the step. The learner also responds to trainer questions.

Step 4: Learner Shows and Tells

Now it's time to see if the learner has both adequate knowledge and skills to perform each procedure step. Since training usually involves hazardous procedures and practices, requiring permission from the trainer prior to performing each step is necessary to prevent injury, illness or equipment damage if the step is not performed correctly. The learner tells the trainer what he or she is going to do, the trainer gives permission to proceed, and only then does the learner perform each procedure step. Here's how this step works:

gsg image learner does
In this step, the learner gets permission and performs the procedure.
Click to enlarge.
  • The trainer directs the learner to perform the steps in the procedure.
  • The learner explains each step, gets permission to perform each step and then performs it.
  • The learner may also try to perform the task too quickly, before the trainer has time to prevent the action, increasing the probability of an injury.
  • If the learner does a good job of explaining and performing each step in the procedure, the trainer can be sure the learner has adequate knowledge and skills to be initially qualified to perform the procedure on the job.

9. In Step 4 of the OJT process, what should the learner do when exposure to hazards inherent in the procedure could cause injury, illness or equipment damage?

a. Perform the step and ask if it is correct before moving on
b. Explain the step, and if correct, the trainer performs the step
c. Perform all steps in the procedure slowly
d. Ask permission and then do the step as the trainer watches

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"Show and Tell" (Continued)

Recognize, document, and validate the training.
Recognize, validate, and document the training.

Step 5: Conclude

Now it's time to answer any remaining questions and recognize each learner's good work. Once the formal training is finished, the trainer should:

  • Recognize the student's accomplishment - "Good job!"
  • Reemphasize the importance of the procedure and how it fits into the overall process.
  • Remind the employee about their responsibilities and accountability by discussing the natural consequences (hurt/health) and system consequences (reprimand/reward).

Step 6: Validate

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.

Recommendation: To prove the employee has the knowledge and skills to do 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.

Step 7: Document

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:

  • training was accomplished
  • questions were answered
  • opportunities provided to do procedure
  • accountabilities understood
  • intent to comply

The instructor and supervisor certifies the trainee has:

  • demonstrated adequate knowledge
  • developed the skills to complete the procedures

See the sample training certification documents in Course 721, Module 5. It represents one possible way to document training.

10. To protect the learner in Step 4 of the OJT procedure, what must the learner do before performing a step?

a. Observe the step from the trainer and then perform it
b. Wait until everyone has gone home to perform the step
c. Explain the step and ask for permission to perform it
d. Write the step down and then perform the step

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, 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 check your answers again.