Organizations are mandated by law to establish workplace safety programs to guarantee a safe and healthy work environment. Prioritizing safety in an organization reduces the number of work-related incidents and protects assets from damage.
Maintenance operations complement an organization’s quest to comply with OSHA standards by ensuring all assets and processes operate at safe levels. Through maintenance, companies can identify impending hazards and evaluate the efficiency of emergency safety equipment. Maintenance workers are exposed to several hazards as they execute their duties. Safety training programs are used for creating awareness of job hazards and encouraging safe working practices.
Steps to develop a robust safety training program
Maintenance operations can be high-risk activities that often need to be accomplished within strict timelines. Below is a simple guide for designing and implementing an effective safety training program tailored for maintenance workers.
Establish training needs
The main role of safety training is to ensure that employees perform their roles safely and in strict adherence to statutory regulations. To create an exhaustive list of training needs, the company conducts an audit on maintenance practices to identify gaps, inherent hazards and risks. The company may enlist the services of an external expert, who will evaluate the needs and reconcile them with relevant OSHA regulations.
Conducting a job hazard analysis, inspecting previous accident records and observing employees while working can provide additional information for establishing and documenting training objectives and goals. Capturing the views and opinions of maintenance employees ensures that no safety risk is overlooked. The training objectives should be clear, concise, and realistic.
Formulate educational activities
The next step involves the planning of learning activities for the transfer of safety skills to maintenance workers. A company may choose to create a visual training program (simulations, lectures, case studies and self-instructional manuals) or adopt a hands-on approach. The learning activities are sequenced to correspond or mimic the actual maintenance activities.
All training materials are designed and prepared at this stage for distribution to the target groups. A learning plan is prepared, providing details on the training schedules, target audiences and evaluation criteria.
This phase introduces the maintenance teams to new safety policies, procedures and tools. The training elaborates on the impacts of the new changes to routine maintenance activities and how to enhance safety accountability among all employees. Maintenance workers participate actively in practical activities, applying the new skills in their duties.
During the training period, employees get a chance to participate in practical tasks and try new tools and protective equipment. At this stage, they share their experiences and seek clarifications on safety policies. Maintenance workers are trained on the correct use of personal protective equipment, reporting hazards, and responding to workplace emergencies. Safety signs and warnings are then displayed at strategic locations within the facility to be used as references by employees.
Review and improve program
Completing safety training shouldn’t mark the end of the program. The new task will be evaluating its success against the set objectives. A safety training program will be successful if the employees attain new skills and implement them to minimize or eliminate safety incidents in an organization.
A review will identify key strengths of the training program, expose areas of weakness and pinpoint objectives that require improvement. Results will be collected from the administration of employee tests, conducting impromptu safety inspections, and analyzing accident records. Insights from the review will help the company in streamlining future training events and perform revisions on training documents, procedures, and skills tests.
The safety training program is administered continuously to existing and new maintenance staff. Additionally, facilities incorporate newer technologies by the day. These changes come with additional safety and regulatory needs. Safety training officers need to find innovative ways to update and improve the existing training objectives and programs.
(Optional) Implement a suitable EHS software
Technology solutions remain inevitable in virtually all sectors of the economy. Maintenance workers have access to multiple tools to improve their productivity, collaboration and accuracy while performing their duties. To enhance compliance and safety of their facilities, companies are investing in Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) software. These solutions provide sufficient tools for organizations to store and share safety training information such as procedures and manuals.
EHS software enables maintenance workers to report safety incidents whenever they occur. These records are crucial for conducting safety audits within complex facilities. After testing and verifying the efficiency of a safety training program, companies need to find suitable EHS software that complements their training needs and enhances workplace safety.
Every facility needs to develop a suitable safety training program for its maintenance teams. These programs require continuous monitoring to identify gaps that crop up after implementation. Formulating new safety programs consumes considerable amounts of time and finances as compared to improving initially existing programs. Comprehensive programs should provide sufficient training and employee outreach to facilitate workplace safety and improve a facility’s compliance with OSHA standards.