More than 100 OSHA standards contain requirements for training. Quality safety and health training helps prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. Effective training also encourages workers by educating and empowering them to advocate for safer working conditions. Several factors contribute to successful training.
OSHA says that a comprehensive workplace safety program needs to include training. There are OSHA guides available that offer helpful information on developing and delivering effective training to workers. OSHA says one of the most important factors that lead to successful training is ensuring that the training facilitator exhibits safety and health expertise, sound instructional skills and flexibility.
In effective training, participants should learn:
- How to identify the safety and health problems at their workplace;
- How to analyze the causes of these safety and health problems;
- How to bring about safer, healthier workplaces;
- How to involve their co-workers in accomplishing all the above.
Other voluntary standards and minimum criteria guidance on developing and delivering safety and health training exist and OSHA encourages you to review these documents as well:
- ANSI/ASSE Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health, and Environmental Training, ANSI/ ASSE Z490.1-2009;
- ANSI: American National Standards Institute;
- ASSE: American Society of Safety Engineers;
- NIEHS WETP Minimum Health and Safety;
- NIEHS: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences;
- WETP: Worker Education and Training Program.
Characteristics of solid training
A guide published by the OSHA Directorate of Training and Education provides a general review of training “best practices” and details four characteristics that good training programs have in common.
The best training programs are accurate, credible, clear and practical, OSHA says.
Training materials should be prepared by qualified individuals, updated as needed and facilitated by appropriately qualified and experienced individuals employing appropriate training techniques and methods.
Training facilitators should have a general safety and health background or be a subject matter expert in a health or safety-related field. They should also have experience training adults or experience working with the target population. Practical experience in the field of safety and health as well as experience in training facilitation contribute to better facilitator credibility. Training programs must not only be accurate and believable, but they must also be clear and understandable to the participant.
Training should present information, ideas and skills that participants see as directly useful in their working lives.
Safety training can be accomplished in many ways, depending on what works best for your employees. Supervisors should evaluate these alternative techniques and determine which ones will work best. OSHA offers some suggestions for various methods of training:
- On-the-job safety training and one-on-one discussions with employees can be very effective.
- Lectures are often the most commonly used. Involving trainees in discussions or question and answer sessions make lectures more effective.
- Demonstrations that are interactive and encourage audience participation allow a larger group to be a part of specific on-the-job training.
- Audiovisual materials and computer-based demonstrations or programs are effective when live demonstrations are too costly or hazardous. Computer-based programs can be effective for refresher training.
- Printed materials can be useful as supplementary information.