Safety Training: Don’t Overlook These Employees

Sep 5th, 2011 | By | Category: Health and Safety

Numerous standards promulgated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) contain requirements for employee training. Typically, these standards state “the employer must provide training to affected employees,” or similar language. Obviously, full-time employees need to be trained, but some other categories of employees should not be overlooked.

  • Newly hired employees must be trained in all applicable OSHA standards before they are exposed to hazards. Unfortunately, some companies provide a quick “safety orientation” that covers very little of the required training. They assume that new workers will get “caught up” during regularly scheduled training classes over the coming months. Take the time to do a proper, thorough orientation for the newbies.
  • Part-time employees must also be trained in situations in which employee training is required. Just because part-time employees do not work 40 hours a week does not mean they are exempt from OSHA training.
  • Temporary service employees must also receive all required safety training. OSHA typically holds the “client” (end-user) responsible for providing site-specific training for employees on the hazards of the workplace and procedures that are required to work safely, even if the temporary service company provides generic training. Pay careful attention to the temporary service contract language regarding worker training responsibilities to ensure nothing is omitted or forgotten.
  • Night shift workers often get overlooked when it comes to employee safety training. I have audited companies in the past that had excellent employee safety training programs, but only for the first shift; the late shift workers were more or less ignored.
  • Management personnel may need to be included in employee safety training efforts too, where applicable.  Oftentimes, I find the “floor level” workers have been thoroughly trained, while the foremen and supervisors (who have the same exposures) did not attend the training classes.
  • Office workers are often overlooked when it comes to OSHA training too. Secretaries or quality inspectors might stay in the office most of the time, but they still need training on applicable topics, such as emergency action plans and evacuation routes. Also, if these employees go onto the shop floor or construction site on occasion, they must be trained for the hazards to which they are exposed.
  • Workers on sick leave, vacation, or personal leave, as well as those who have been laid off, often get overlooked for scheduled OSHA training when they return to work. Implement a mechanism to make sure these workers receive all required training they have missed as soon as they return to work.
  • Employees who get transferred into a new job, whether permanently or temporarily, might need additional safety training on hazards and procedures specific to their new work area. Examples of new conditions that might require training include exposure to new chemicals and hazards, different emergency response and evacuation procedures for the new job location, and so forth.
  • Employees operating new equipment cannot be overlooked either. A worker may have been trained and evaluated on a particular brand and model of forklift, but if he or she is required to operate a different brand or model, a little “hands-on” demonstration, practice, and evaluation on the new model may be needed.
  • Employees exposed to new hazards, such as those working in a revamped work operation where new chemicals, equipment, or machinery are provided, may also need additional training.
  • Other employee categories could also exist. Please leave a comment if you think of anything that I might have overlooked.

About the Author

Curtis Chambers is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) with more than 20 years of experience in helping businesses achieve OSHA compliance. He was a safety officer in a state OSHA consultation program and the corporate safety director for a Fortune 500 company, and he is now the owner of OSHA Training Services Inc., a provider of safety training services for business, construction, and industry.

Photograph: Stripe Fabric by Asif Akbar, Hungary.

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2 Comments to “Safety Training: Don’t Overlook These Employees”

  1. Cesar Freitas says:

    Dear,

    First of all, It is necessary congratulate the text above, is realy full of main EH&S points about training and employee development.

    I have just one observation about it:

    I work with EH&S about nine years and one of the issues that I concern of some companys is the lack of EH&S attention for the visitors.

    I know that is impracticable perform a complete OSHA training for a visitor, but a overview is quite necessary. Some themes as the emergency action, evacuation routes, kinds of emergency alarme sounds are important information even to a visitors.

    That kind of fast training is normally conduced in an indoctrination process, or as we said here in Brazil, a integration process.

    Regards,

    Cesar Freitas – EH&S Supply Chain Specialist

  2. tyler says:

    great post! training is key to safety in the workplace, which is vital for all workers.

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