Employers: Now’s the time for safety training!
Why should you provide training for your employees?
Training is an important component to any safety program. A proper training program allows your employees to work safely knowing the risks and hazards that are present at the jobsite and how they should deal with them. In addition, regular employee training makes financial sense too. Fewer workplace accidents decreases lost time, and reduces workers compensation claims, not to mention a decrease in your chances of getting fined by OSHA for unsafe work practices.
OSHA requires that all construction and general industry employees be trained to do their jobs in a competent and safe manner. According to OSHA’s Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, “The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.” In other words: employers are responsible for training employees in safe work practices that are applicable to their workplace.
The most obvious reason for providing training for your employees is simply to keep them safe. By training your employees, you increase the chances that they’ll return home to their families unharmed at the end of each workday. Employees will know that you care about their well-being and in turn, you’ll see an increase in worker productivity.
What kind of training should you provide?
There are a number of different kinds of trainings out there that might be applicable to your workplace. The first thing you’ll need to do is determine what hazards your employees deal with on any given day. The processes that they go through and equipment or materials they use on a regular basis will drive the training program you implement. You may also want to talk with your employees and find out the areas they think training would be beneficial to them.
The idea is to provide your employees with safe practices that apply specifically to what they do. Here is a list of common training topics that you may want to incorporate into your safety training program. A number of these topics appeared on OSHA’s Top Ten list of Most Frequently Cited Standards for 2008.
- Hazard Communication
- Confined Space
- Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout)
- Fall Protection
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Respiratory Protection
- Operation of Machinery and/or Equipment
- OSHA 10 or 30 hour Construction Trainings
Why is now a good time to train your employees?
The winter months are considered “down time” for many construction companies and other related industries. This provides an excellent opportunity to gain your employees undivided attention. The holidays are over and the busy spring and summer seasons are just around the corner. The New Year is also a great time to impress upon your employees your resolution to promote a culture of safety in the workplace. Let them know that you take their safety seriously and plan to commit to it throughout the entire year, beginning now with proper training.
Why is the economy a poor excuse to skimp on training?
“I’m sorry that your husband is out of commission for months, Mrs. Smith, but I couldn’t afford to properly train him on how to use that forklift.” Would you want to have that conversation? Unfortunately, that is the attitude that many employers take when it comes to safety. The economy is bad right now, true. However it’s still not a good excuse. The OSHA fines, the injuries (maybe fatalities), the downtime, the workers’ comp costs, the increased insurance premiums, the stain on your good reputation, and loss of employee morale and productivity are not worth the risk of saving some money right now. An ignorant employee is a dangerous employee. You can’t afford ignorance in your workplace. A safety training program will pay off in more ways than you can imagine. Skimping is just not worth the risk.