Does Your Safety Training Work? (Part 2)

Here's how to put your workplace safety programs to the test
by SKULI GUDMUNDSSON, CEO of OCCU-TEC Inc.

This is part 2 of a 2-part safety and training series. To read part 1, click here

PART 2 - DEVELOPING A SAFETY TRAINING PROGRAM

Safety Training

Safety Training

If your company is setting a safety training agenda for the first time, these steps will help with the process:

Assess your training needs. Examine accident and injury records and talk to department heads about any minor or serious glitches in your safety procedures. These may range from a high number of back injuries to a failure to meet certain federal, state and local standards. Regardless of the severity, find out where the problem is located, what the potential causes might be and whether anything (training?) has been done in the past to correct it.

 Gauge the level of employees' safety skills. You can use written tests, employee interviews and everyday observation to determine how much workers know about the safety aspects of their jobs. This homework will give you a better idea of how best to train them. If you need help with the analysis, many safety outsource firms provide this type of service.

❖ Design a program to solve the problems. Some companies have the staff expertise to design the course content; others can get help from consultants, equipment vendors and even OSHA, which provides a lot of free training related to its standards. For best results, combine a variety of teaching methods in the program. These may include courses led by line managers or problem-solving teams and multimedia devices. And don't forget the power of asking trainees to demonstrate what they've learned.

Get line managers on board. Once your top management has embraced a safety philosophy, educate line managers and department heads about safety problems in the company overall and in their departments. Emphasize that they can help set the proper tone by example and instruction.

Evaluate the program's effectiveness. Use the Kirkpatrick model described in Part 1 to evaluate the program’s success. Ask yourself two main questions: Did it change employees' behavior? Did it impact business results in a positive manner?

Fine-tune the safety process. Periodically review your training program and adjust it to incorporate new safety standards and to account for changes in your business and industry. The growing use of computers in the workplace, for example, can lead to injuries and workers' compensation claims. Adding ergonomics training to your course content may help prevent these problems.

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