Enforcement and Inspection, Personnel Safety, Training

Ask the Expert: Identifying Safety Training Needs

In our EHS Safety Training Week installment of Ask the Expert, brought to you by KPA, we hear from Shawn Smith, Product Director, Training at KPA, who provides guidance, tips, and advice about safety training and how you can more effectively provide it.

Ensuring the safety and well-being of employees is paramount in an ever-evolving workplace. As companies strive to maintain a secure work environment, identifying areas that require enhanced safety training becomes critical. This Q&A aims to highlight effective strategies for pinpointing safety training needs, highlight key areas often overlooked in corporate training programs, and provide a concise guide to complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) training requirements.

Q: What is the best way to identify areas of need for safety training? 

The cornerstone of a robust safety program is the continuous identification and assessment of potential hazards. This process involves several key steps:

Risk Assessment

Conducting regular risk assessments helps identify potential hazards that employees may encounter in their daily tasks. This proactive approach aids in pinpointing specific areas where safety training is necessary.

Incident Analysis

Analyzing past incidents and near-misses can reveal patterns or areas of weakness in safety protocols. This information is invaluable for tailoring training programs to prevent future occurrences.

Employee Feedback

Engaging with employees can uncover insights into perceived risks and areas where they feel they need to prepare better. Such feedback is crucial for developing relevant and impactful training modules.

Regulatory Review

Staying abreast of changes in safety regulations ensures that training programs remain compliant and address current safety standards.

Q: What are some areas in which companies should do a better job when it comes to training?

While safety training needs vary across industries, several areas often require additional focus:

Emergency Preparedness

Training employees on emergency response procedures—including evacuation plans, fire safety, and first aid—is essential for ensuring a swift and effective response to unforeseen incidents.

Hazardous Materials Handling

For workplaces dealing with hazardous substances, specialized training on proper handling, storage, and disposal techniques is crucial to prevent accidents and health risks.

Mental Health Awareness

Recognizing and addressing mental health in the workplace is increasingly important. Training on stress management, recognizing signs of mental health issues, and fostering a supportive environment can enhance workplace safety.

If You See Something, Say Something

Continually coach your team to stay aware of hazards and communicate those concerns as they see them. This can have a great impact on the safety program and overall safety culture.

Q: What do we need to know to comply with OSHA’s training requirements?

Compliance with OSHA training requirements is not just a legal obligation but also a foundation for creating a safe and healthy work environment. Here are essential steps to comply with OSHA standards:

Understand Applicable Standards

OSHA’s requirements vary by industry and job function. Companies must first identify which specific standards apply to their operations.

Develop a Comprehensive Training Program

Based on OSHA guidelines, develop a training program that covers all necessary areas, including hazard recognition, equipment operation, and emergency procedures.

Ensure Recordkeeping and Documentation

OSHA requires documentation of all safety training sessions, including dates, content, and attendee records. Maintaining accurate records is crucial for compliance and for tracking employee training histories.

Regular Updates and Refresher Courses 

OSHA standards and workplace technologies evolve. Regularly updating training programs and providing refresher courses ensure employees’ knowledge remains current and comprehensive.

The key to enhancing workplace safety is identifying specific training needs, focusing on often-neglected areas, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. By adopting a proactive and comprehensive approach to safety training, companies can foster a culture of safety that protects their most valuable asset: their employees.

Shawn Smith has 30 years of training production, programming, and learning management expertise. He leads KPA’s dynamic training and content team, a group of self-proclaimed nerds and individuals who are passionate about keeping your employees safe. He oversees the trifecta of compliant, impactful, and innovative EHS resources at KPA. In his spare time, he is a high school robotics coach in Hershey, Penn., pursuing global acclaim and inspiring today’s youth to be themselves.

KPA Flex helps companies keep up with safety standards. Transform your safety management by providing real-time visibility, streamlining workflows with digital efficiency, and fostering a proactive safety culture—at the office or in the field. Contact us today and we can show you how.

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