Resources - Education and Training

Determining What Training is Needed

If the problem is one that can be solved, in whole or in part, by training then 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, in writing and in their own words, descriptions of their jobs. These should include 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.

The employees themselves can provide valuable information on the training they need. Safety and health hazards can be identified through the employees’ responses to such questions as whether anything about their jobs frightens them, if they have had any near-miss incidents, if they feel they are taking risks, or if they believe that their jobs involve hazardous operations or substances.

Get information about the learner and the task

It's important to conduct the needs assessment process to gather information about the learner, and the task so that we can design appropriate training that meets specific learner needs.

To get information about the learner

  • Observe workers doing work
  • Interview and/or survey workers
  • Review employee personnel records
  • Determine demographics (age, gender, race)
  • Determine experience level
  • Determine learning styles
  • Determine aptitudes, knowledge
  • Determine attitudes toward subject being taught

To get information about task requirements, it's a good idea to do the following:

  • review applicable regulations
  • conduct an on-site job task analysis
  • conduct employee interviews
  • observe employees doing work
  • administer employee questionnaires
  • administer supervisor questionnaires
  • conduct management interviews
  • analyze injury and illness history
  • review skills standards

Matching Training To Employees

While all employees are entitled to know as much as possible about the safety and health hazards to which they are exposed, and employers should attempt to provide all relevant information and instruction to all employees, the resources for such an effort frequently are not, or are not believed to be, available. Thus, employers are often faced with the problem of deciding who is in the greatest need of information and instruction.

One way to differentiate between employees who have priority needs for training and those who do not is to identify employee populations which are at higher levels of risk. The nature of the work will provide an indication that such groups should receive priority for information on occupational safety and health risks.

The Job Hazard Analysis

The Job Hazard Analysis, also called a Job Safety Analysis, is a procedure for studying and recording each step of a job, identifying existing or potential hazards, and determining the best way to perform the job in order to reduce or eliminate the risks. Information obtained from a Job Hazard Analysis can be used as the content for the training activity.

Prioritizing Safety Training

One method of prioritizing safety training is to pinpoint hazardous tasks. In most industries there are some employees who operate at greater risk than others. In other cases the degree of risk of a task is influenced by the conditions under which it is performed, such as noise, heat or cold, or safety or health hazards in the surrounding area. In these situations, employees should be trained not only on how to perform their job safely but also on how to operate within a hazardous environment.

A second method of prioritizing safety training is to examine incidents and accidents, both within the company and within the industry. If employees in certain jobs are experiencing higher accident and injury rates than other employees, training may be one way to reduce that rate. In addition, thorough incident/accident analysis can identify not only specific employees who could benefit from training but also identify company-wide training needs.

Research has identified the following variables as being related to a disproportionate share of injuries and illnesses at the worksite on the part of employees:

  1. The age of the employee (younger employees have higher incidence rates).
  2. The length of time on the job (new employees have higher incidence rates).
  3. The size of the firm (in general terms, medium-size firms have higher incidence rates than smaller or larger firms).
  4. The type of work performed (incidence and severity rates vary significantly by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code).
  5. The use of hazardous substances (by SIC Code).

These variables should be considered when identifying employee groups for training in occupational safety and health.

What about supervisor and manager safety training?

Some organizations consider the safety and health function as primarily a human resource or staff responsibility. They fail to understand safety as a part of overall operations (production or service), and even worse, they believe safety education and training need not be given to line managers: A big mistake. Consequently, some employers neglect to adequately educate managers general safety and health concepts and how to apply them in the workplace.

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

First-line supervisors have an especially critical role in safety and health protection because of their immediate responsibility for workers and for the work being performed. Effective training of supervisors will address their safety and health management responsibilities as well as information on hazards, hazard prevention, and response to emergencies. A short list of topics for supervisor safety training include:

  • 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)
Proper Preparation and Practice Prevent Poor Performance
Robert W. Pike, Creative Training Techniques Handbook , p. 7

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).