Health and safety in the workplace should be at the core of every business. Sadly, this is not always the case. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers in private industry reported 2.6 million nonfatal illnesses and injuries in the workplace in 2021. This equates to about 2.7 cases per 100 full-time employees. This number could be drastically reduced with job safety training.
Employees are becoming increasingly concerned about health are safety in the workplace. Alert Media’s 2022 Employee Safety Report states that 73% of survey respondents said that feeling safe at work was extremely important. It also states that 9 out of 10 employees feel that employers are responsible for keeping employees safe at work.
With the ever-shifting workforce landscape, it is now more important than ever to invest in workplace safety training. Not only will employees feel better protected, but employers can reduce the number of potential injuries, accidents, illnesses and deaths, and increase productivity and the quality of work.
Why is Improving Workplace Safety Important?
No matter what type of business you run, there is always the risk of employees becoming injured, incapacitated or ill. Common workplace hazards include trips and falls, fires, falling objects, electrical mishaps, exposure to chemicals and machinery accidents. Other not-so-obvious risks include injuries from repetitive motions and non-ergonomic office furniture.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 requires all employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace. This means keeping the workplace free of known hazards and providing employees with proper safety equipment. Part of keeping the workplace safe also means ensuring that employees are aware of hazards and know what to do in the case of an emergency.
Workplaces that lack health and safety training may find that employees are missing multiple days of work, which results in lost time and productivity. Companies may also face medical bills, insurance claims, higher insurance premiums, high employee turnover rates and additional costs finding and training replacement staff.
The Benefits of Workplace Health and Safety Training
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) believes that safety training is not only essential for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses, but it is also an investment that will pay back time and time again. These are just a few benefits of implementing safety and health training on the job:
- Increased awareness of hazards
- Fewer workplace injuries and illnesses
- Fewer employee absences
- Better morale
- Increased productivity
- Better employee retention
- Fewer insurance claims
- Better insurance premiums
- Reduction in costs related to hiring and training new staff
Industries That Can Benefit From Safety Training Certification
While nearly every industry can benefit from focusing on the importance of safety at the workplace, for some it is more essential than others. For example, it is critical to create safe working conditions for nurses, as this particular field carries a great deal of risk from exposure to illnesses. In addition, medical professionals often deal with heavy workloads and erratic schedules.
Construction is another industry that requires a strong focus on health and safety. The physical nature of the job combined with the use of heavy machinery creates numerous hazards. Other industries that can benefit from training on how to prevent workplace injuries include manufacturing, mining, warehousing, transportation and oil and gas.
Types of Workplace Safety Training Programs
All employees should receive safety and health training to ensure they are aware of hazards in the workplace and can do their job in a safe, effective way that does not pose a risk to their health. The type of training will vary depending on what the job entails, how long the employee has been with the company and whether there are any changing circumstances.
Induction training is essential to give new employees a basic overview of the company and procedures. At the very least, this should include workplace orientation including identifying emergency exits and first aid kits, fire safety training, safe use of equipment and tools, employee health resources and security in the workplace.
Refresher safety training is a great way to reinforce safety procedures and policies within a company. Employees who have been with a company for some time may become complacent with procedures or simply forget company standards and protocols. This is also an excellent way to address any changes such as advances in technology, new equipment or system revisions.
Best Practices For Conducting Workplace Safety Training
Gone are the days when a company could simply provide employees with a safety training manual and put the onus on them to read and understand it. For workplace health and safety training to be effective, it needs to be adaptive, relevant and engaging. These are some ways to ensure employee safety training is as useful as possible.
Make it Relevant
Think about who your target audience is and what is most important for them. What do they need to know to do their job safely and effectively? What will retain their interest and provide value for them in their day-to-day tasks? You may need to cover some broad topics that are applicable to all workplaces and departments, but you also want to make sure that you focus on workplace safety training topics that are most relevant to your employees.
Make it Engaging
As mentioned above, plunking a 100-page safety manual in front of an employee and expecting them to read it is no longer an acceptable form of workplace safety training. You want to make sure that your training program keeps your employees interested and engaged. That way they will be able to retain the knowledge better. Consider using videos, photos and hands-on activities to drive your points home.
Hold Everyone Accountable
Safety protocols should apply to each and every person in the company, from entry-level employees all the way up to the CEO or company owner. In fact, upper management and owners should be even more aware of safety procedures and model behavior that adheres to high standards. This could include wearing PPE when appropriate and being diligent about documentation and reporting.
Assess the Training Program Regularly
The most effective Safety Training Programs are updated regularly to ensure they are relevant and in line with the most current regulations. You may need to make changes based on employee feedback, new technologies, particular incidents or changing situations. It also helps to monitor responses to the training to see what works well and what could use some tweaking.
Workplace safety has always been and always will be vital to the success of both employees and employers. Job safety training is not only required and expected under federal and state laws, but it is also the right thing to do. The more tools you can give your employees to help them do their job safely and effectively, the more returns you will get in both the short and long-term.