June is National Safety Month, annually sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to highlight efforts to prevent injury “in the workplace and any place.” At Mineral, helping our small business clients protect and maintain workplace safety is a key pillar to delivering on our mission to Elevate teams every day. In honor of National Safety Month, this post is the third in a multi-part series to aid small businesses in building and expanding a culture of safety.
Safety training is an essential part of every employer’s safety and health program to protect workers from injury and illness, and ensure workers have the required skills and knowledge to safely do their work. The resulting benefits from effective safety training include fewer injuries and illnesses, better morale, lower insurance premiums and more.
Your employees have the right to a safe work environment, safe work processes and procedures, and safe tools and equipment. Although safety training is not one-size-fits-all—what your specific training program looks like will heavily depend on company operations, hazards, and risks—there are six training topics that apply to most businesses.
1. Slip, trip, and fall hazards. These include wet floors, snow or ice, electrical cords or pipes at floor level, and fall hazards such as roof work. You should conduct slip, trip and fall hazard awareness training, including procedures to prevent slips, trips and falls in the workplace.
2. Chemical safety. For employees using cleaners, solvents, glue, adhesives, spray paint, and lubricants, it’s important to train them to accurately read chemical labels and safety warning for how to safely use and/or mix chemicals.
3. First aid. Ensure employees know where first-aid supplies and equipment are located and how to render first-aid to themselves of others as needed.
4. Personal protective equipment (PPE). Adequately and regularly train employees on when and how to wear safety glasses, gloves, safety shoes, protective clothing, earplugs, hard hats, respirators, face shields, and other protective equipment to prevent on-the-job injuries.
5. Emergency action plan. This training covers emergency procedures when a fire, hazardous spill, severe weather situation, or medical emergency occur. If your business employs fewer than 10 employees, your plan may be informal, but you must still communicate what to do in an emergency.
6. Portable fire extinguishers. Train employees to use them in case of a small fire, including the types of fire extinguishers, what each type is used for, and how to properly extinguish a fire.
Once you have determined what topics you should include in your employee safety training program, based on regulatory requirements and best practices, here six strategies for planning and conducting health and safety training:
1. Simplify. Safety topics can be technical in nature and audiences can vary in native language and educational background. Whether it’s on-the-job training or more formal training, use simple language, visuals and repeat key concepts more than once.
2. Document. Document what was covered, the date, the trainer, and the names of participants. This will boost your recordkeeping efforts and provide historical information that can be handy when employees turn over or are promoted.
3. Schedule. Establish a regular cadence for safety training. Training is an opportunity to reinforce the message to your employees that safety is a core value of your business. If you want safe work practices to become embedded in your workplace culture, make safety a regular topic of conversation—whether it is included in a daily pre-shift meeting, scheduled into an online training schedule, or included as part of a monthly team meeting.
4. Demonstrate. Include safety training in on-the-job training when demonstrating a new task, skill, or process to employees. Too often, when showing employees how to perform a task, trainers overlook safety—either because they assume safety is commonsense or they haven’t considered what could go wrong. Take the opportunity to discuss potential hazards and reinforce safety skills needed to perform tasks injury-free.
5. Integrate. Incorporate safety training into new employee onboarding, including basics like emergency procedures and PPE requirements as well as task specific safety precautions and instructions. Make onboarding training job-specific so new hires can apply what they learn to their daily work.
6. Audit. Training falls short with no follow up. When visiting work areas or working with employees on-the-job, observe whether the concepts presented in the training are being carried out and have become company norms. If not, retrain until the information is consistently practiced.
If you’re not sure where to start, plan to train your employees on the above six topics, starting with the one that is most relevant to your current needs and/or the topic that either has never been discussed with employees or needs a refresher.
From there, Mineral provides various types of training resources on all six of these health and safety topics, including turnkey slide presentations, videos, quizzes, and handouts. Mineral also has an entire health and safety library that may be relevant to your business. If you unsure if a topic is relevant, Mineral Safety Advisors can help.
Finally, there are additional workplace health and safety topics that you may want to include in employee training but are not specifically required by OSHA, including: back safety, ergonomics, incident reporting procedures, office safety, and workplace violence prevention.
When designing and executing your safety training program, remember to start with identifying the hazards and risks that your employees may encounter on the job. Involve your team in creating your training program, and put together a plan that targets the most relevant topics and ensures your employees understand the why behind the training. Know that effective training takes time and repetition, and keep the ultimate goal in mind: Workers who have the required skills and knowledge to safely do their work so your business can thrive.
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