Accountability Ensures Learners Use Safety Skills

Employers are required to provide certain types of safety training to employees. While some companies simply follow the letter of the law, others go beyond minimum requirements and build a culture where safety is embedded in their business practices.

Take Johns Manville of McPherson, Kansas, which produces fiberglass insulation materials. The company was honored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for its commitment to safety. In 2007 Johns Manville earned membership in OSHA’s prestigious "star" Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). The star designation is the highest level in the program.

"Johns Manville has exhibited excellence in safety and health management," said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA regional administrator in Kansas City. "The company’s outstanding efforts have included management commitment to safety and health and employee involvement in safety and health programs."

That includes a commitment to safety training through the JM Development Center, which also offers courses on computer software and informational technology, management and supervision, personal effectiveness, and sales. Courses are offered in a variety of media, including computer-based training, internal classroom training, and external training.

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Demonstrated Commitment

Management’s commitment to safety is obvious, given its repeated mention in the company’s core values, safety statement, commitment statements, and safety policy.

For example, in its safety statement, the company says that it is "dedicated to protecting public health and the quality of the environment, and the health and safety of our employees, our customers, and our neighbors."

In its commitment statements, Johns Manville acknowledges that training is necessary to ensure safety on the job. "People will need to be trained to perform their jobs safely prior to being assigned these tasks," the company states. "No one will be permitted to perform a job prior to demonstrating that he or she understands and can perform the job safely. All personnel are expected to adhere to these training requirements."

The company’s safety policy states that safety is its top priority and that each employee is responsible for helping to prevent accidents at work.
"Working safely and actively participating in the JM safety process is an expectation of every Johns Manville employee. This means that every employee is expected to follow and meet the company’s Safety Commitments and Safety Standards, as well as the safety rules and safe work practices for their respective work location and job responsibility."

The policy makes it clear that there are consequences for not following the safety procedures: "Working safely and meeting the expectations outlined above is a condition of continued employment with Johns Manville."

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Tips for Training Success

Here are a few tips to help ensure the success of your safety programs:

  • Get workers involved. Make sure they understand which training is mandatory and how training can help them protect themselves and do their jobs more efficiently.

  • Offer interactive training. This will engage workers in the learning process and help reinforce the training message.

  • Hold employees accountable. Follow up after training to make sure employees are using the techniques and implementing the procedures they learned. Explain the consequences for not following the required procedures.

  • Look for measurable results. If you can identify tangible results (e.g., lower incident rate), management will be more willing to invest in additional training.