Why is safety training important?
It’s the same reason teaching children to look both ways before crossing the street is important.
Or why learning how to drive before you get behind the wheel is important.
Or why registering your car is important.
In other words, safety training is important because it saves lives and keeps people out of trouble. For employers, safety training is a legal requirement, a moral imperative, and a prerequisite for doing business.
Safety training is not optional, and it isn’t something you can improvise or let slide. If you neglect it or don’t do it right, you’re putting your workers’ health and safety—as well as the future of your company—on the line. From broken bones to broken equipment, from regulatory penalties to lawsuits to increased insurance premiums, the costs of poor safety training are too great to ignore.
What Is Safety Training?
Safety training comprises everything an employer does to teach workers how to do their jobs correctly.
We’re not just talking about training people to work capably and efficiently, but making sure they know how to eliminate or minimize all risks to their health and safety—and to the organization’s bottom line.
First and foremost, safety training is about empowering people to keep themselves and others safe. Training gives workers the knowledge they need to safely depower a dangerous machine, for instance, or prevent toxic chemical exposure, replace non-functioning fire extinguishers, help a wounded coworker access medical services, and so forth. While some workplace safety practices are obvious (such as wearing a helmet to protect against head injuries), many require explanation and certification. Training is how you offer that information.
Second, safety training is about meeting legal requirements. Various federal, state, and local laws require employers to provide training to their employees. Some rules apply to all workers while other rules apply to professionals in specific industries and roles. For example, you might only need to train a handful of employees to operate forklifts, but you need to train everyone in your workforce on fire prevention, your emergency action plan, and other general topics.
Third, training ensures employees follow all internal company rules and policies. If you expect your people to show up and work in a certain manner, you have to teach them what to do.
Three Reasons Safety Training’s So Important
Safety training is essential to the success of your company. Do it right and you’ll save lives, money, and headaches. Do it wrong—or fail to do it at all—and you won’t be in business for long.
Here are a few reasons why compliance training is so important:
1. Training promotes workforce safety. OSHA standards and other regulatory rules are in place for a reason: they were developed to keep people safe and healthy at work. By training your workers to comply with the law, you’re helping them stay out of harm’s way. If you neglect compliance training, it’s only a matter of time until one of your employees gets hurt, sick, or worse.
2. Training is mandatory. You have to do it—and do it in line with the procedures laid out in all federal, state, and local laws that apply to your organization. OHSA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other regulators are paying attention to how and when you train your employees. If you don’t provide sufficient compliance training to your workforce, you’ll get hit with investigations, 5- or 6-figure fines, and lawsuits. You could even face jail time.
The following authorities mandate some form of workforce training:
- OSHA requires that workers are provided with adequate workplace health and safety training under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970. Numerous OSHA standards contain specific training requirements—examples include the Hazard Communication Standard, machine guarding standards, and personal protective equipment standards.
- The EPA obligates many employers to train workers to safely handle and dispose of hazardous substances such as asbestos, used aerosol cans, and more.
- The DOT demands that employers provide training to all workers involved in the transportation of hazardous materials, as well as training on topics such as safe driving and forklift safety.
Depending on where you do business, there may be additional state and local authorities with further workforce training requirements that affect your organization. For more information, contact us.
3. Safety training is good for business. An investment in compliance training reduces costs related to insurance, lost productivity, equipment replacements, legal fees, and so on. Effective compliance training can save your organization tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars or more per year.
What the Research Says About Safety Training
KPA’s research into safety programs showed that, without a doubt, top-performing companies are the ones that prioritize and emphasize training. They not only train new employees extensively, but provide refresher training to all employees, and continually update their training content and refine their approach. These companies understand that training is what makes or breaks a safety program—that what’s most important is not the technology people use or the efficiency of organizational processes, but individual behaviors.
How Can You Improve Your Safety Training?
Here are a few ways to improve your compliance training program and make training more engaging:
Use more than one format. The most effective compliance training incorporates different media and approaches, such as presentations, videos, interactive exercises, group discussions, self-paced assessments, and more. Make sure it’s available both online and on-site.
Make sure you’re covering everything you need to cover. Compliance training needs to provide information about certain topics, as required by OSHA, the EPA, and other regulatory authorities. These topics include toxic and hazardous substances, personal protection equipment, fire protection, exit routes, and more. Specific industries—including maritime, construction, and agriculture—have additional training requirements. If you’re not sure what your training needs to cover, ask us.
Tailor your content to your audience. It’s important to know how your workers learn—what kinds of lessons they’re most responsive to, what language(s) they speak, what style resonates most with them, and so on. You should also adapt your training to people of different experience levels; every worker needs to be trained, but not everyone needs to be introduced to a topic as though they’re not familiar with it. Learn how to design workforce training with employees in mind.
Make it relevant. Stories and real-world examples are more effective than dry, purely informational presentations. Wherever possible, embed your training in a detailed narrative that reflects your workers’ real experiences. Read more about using examples in training.
Use repetition to reinforce it. Effective training communicates the same key points more than once—but it doesn’t simply repeat itself. Instead, it reinforces lessons in new contexts, creating connections in learners’ brains as they practice and digest the material. Discover how to reinforce training without repeating yourself.
To learn all about improving your organization’s compliance training program, download KPA’s free ebook: The Keys to Better Workforce Training.
Get Award-Winning Training from KPA
KPA offers award-winning training courses designed to help employees improve their performance on the job. Scenario-based learning modules educate learners on the laws and regulations that apply to their jobs. Our courses feature high-level interactivity and video-based content designed to hold learners’ interest and keep them engaged.
KPA training is…
- available online
- available on-site, led by our Risk Management Consultants,
- designed to help employees improve their performance on the job and improve compliance,
- based on real-world stories and examples.
KPA’s training team has developed an extensive library of EHS, HR, and F&I training courses to meet your needs.
Check out the sample library of courses we offer.