Resources - Education and Training

Is Training the Answer?

First things first!

The first step in the training process is a basic one; to determine if a problem can be solved by training. Whenever employees are not performing their jobs safely, we might assume training will bring them up to standard. However, it is possible that the following non-training actions are needed to make sure employees comply with safe procedures and practices:

  • correcting existing hazards using engineering controls
  • providing adequate resources
  • ensuring a culture of safety enforcement

What training can and can’t do for workers

Worker training is essential to every employer’s safety and health program. The time and money it takes to train workers is an investment that pays off in fewer workplace accidents and lower insurance premiums. Effective training also helps inexperienced workers, who tend to have higher injury and illness rates than experienced workers.

Ideally, safety and health training should be provided before problems or accidents occur. This training would cover both general safety and health rules and work procedures, and would be repeated if an accident or near-miss incident occurred. Problems that can be addressed effectively by training include those that arise from lack of knowledge of a work process, unfamiliarity with equipment or incorrect execution of a task.

However, training isn't as likely to help if workers don’t understand it, if they:

  • lack proper motivation
  • lack attention to the job

Whatever its purpose, training is most effective when designed in relation to the goals of the employer’s total safety and health program.

No amount of training is likely to improve workplace safety unless you make it part of an effective integrated Safety and Health Program.

Describe the safety performance problem

What is the current safety performance? Before we can determine if a discrepancy is caused by a lack of knowledge, skills or abilities, we need to accurately describe the actual safety performance. A new employee might require comprehensive safety training so make sure they meet your performance standards. An experienced employee might require training on new procedures or machinery.

Then again, if there is no lack of knowledge, skills or abilities, non-training options might be required.

Once we have accurately described the discrepancy, we can the use the following checklist to help determine the solution. The checklist takes you through decision process that helps determine one or more intervention options: training, resources, supervision, enforcement, and leadership.

Safety Training Decision Tree

To help determine if training is actually the solution to the problem, you can use the checklist below which has been adapted Analyzing Performance Problems: Or You Really Oughta Wanna by Robert F. Mager, Peter Pipe. "

Safety Training Decision Tree

____ Is knowledge, skills, or ability (SKAs) sufficient?

  • Yes. . The employee has demonstrated adequate knowledge and skills to accomplish the task to standard. Go to the Non-Training Options checklist below.
  • No. The employee does not have adequate knowledge and/or skills to accomplish the task to standard. Go to the Training Options checklist.

Training Options Checklist

____ Has the employee performed the task before?

  • Yes. Continue to the next question.
  • No. New employees and employees transferred to new jobs need to be formally trained before they perform any tasks that might cause injury. Conduct formal training.

____ Is the task accomplished often

  • Yes. The employee accomplishes the task regularly. Provide feedback. Observe the task and provide one-on-one feedback on any discrepancies.
  • No. The task is rarely accomplished. Examples might be tasks requiring the use of fire extinguishers, confined space rescue, or chemical spill procedures. Conduct practice. It's important to practice tasks from time to time when it's normally not required.

Non-Training Options Checklist

____ Are resources and support adequate?

  • Yes. Management provides adequate resources and support. Employees are provided with safe tools, equipment, machinery, workstations, facilities. Workloads and schedules are reasonable. Evaluate other options.
  • No. The employee lacks the resources and/or management support to perform to standard. Lack of system resources and support may take various forms. They might include unreasonable workload/schedule, pressure to work fast, defective tools, and unsafe equipment, machinery or materials. Provide the necessary resources and support to ensure employees are able to perform to safety standards.

____ Is safety supervision/management adequate?

  • Yes. Supervisors/managers effectively detect and correct hazards/unsafe behaviors before they result in injury or illness. Evaluate other options.
  • No. Supervisors fail to effectively detect and correct hazards/unsafe behaviors before they result in injury or illness. Supervisors may lack training, looking the other way or otherwise ignore unsafe conditions and/or behaviors. Ensure adequate design and performance of supervisor safety plan to ensure supervisors are effectively trained and held accountable for performing safety responsibilities.
____ Is safety enforcement adequate?
  • Yes. An effective process exists to ensure employees are administered progressive discipline (when justified) for failing to comply with the employer's safety policies, procedures and rules. Supervisors insist that all employees comply. Evaluate other options.
  • No. Management fails to ensure employees are administered progressive discipline, when justified, for failing to comply with the employer's safety policies, procedures and rules. Supervisors merely encourage, not insist, that all employees comply. Design and implement an effective safety accountability program.
____ Do supervisors and managers comply with safety policies and rules?
  • Yes. Supervisors and managers set the proper leadership example by complying with safety policies and rules. Supervisors communicate through word and deed that job security depends on working safe...not fast. Evaluate other options.
  • No. Supervisors and managers set the proper leadership example by complying with safety policies and rules. The words and actions of management lead employees to believe their job security depends on working fast, not safe. Design and implement an effective management leadership plan that includes supervisor/management safety responsibilities training.

How training needs arise

There are a number of triggers, internal indicators and external influences that may generate a training need. If any of these are likely to occur in the future, one or more employees may need training.

Potential Triggers. Certain occurrences may trigger the need for training in your workplace. Are you considering the need for training for the following?

  • New hires
  • Promotions or job transfers
  • New work procedures
  • New OSHA standards and other regulations
  • New working relationships between workers and managers
  • Change of training curriculum
  • Increased or revised workload
  • Change in ownership

Internal Indicators . If, in your analysis of the safety management system, you discover the following trends, safety training may be required:

  • Increase in expressed safety concerns
  • Increase in incidents, accidents, illness
  • Increase in grievances
  • Increase in non-compliance behaviors
  • Increase in staff turnover
  • Poor safety/quality evaluation ratings
  • Harassment or violence in the workplace
  • Decreasing moral and Low levels of motivation

External Influences. As I'm sure you're aware, employers do not operate in a vacuum. From time to time, Oregon OSHA and other agencies promulgate rules and guidelines that affect the way work is conducted. Here are more examples of external factors that require safety training:

  • New legislation
  • Changes to legislation
  • Competitor activity
  • Professional body regulations and requirements
  • Quality Assurance (QA) codes of practice
  • Funding Council requirements
  • Source: OSHAcademy

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Copyright ©2000-2019 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).