If the employees are not really becoming more aware and knowledgeable about safety in the workplace, then the effort being spent on a safety program may be a waste of time and money. So, what’s the key to a written program that includes worksite hazard identification and employee training? The effectiveness of the program.

As you establish your safety and health program this season, and for many seasons to come, keep this three-step formula in mind.

Step 1: Planning

Establish policies that are relevant to business operations and supported by company management. Share these policies with new workers during their orientation periods.

Identify workplace hazards that create unacceptable levels of risk for employees, customers, vendors and visitors. These identified hazards then become the basis for establishing safe work procedures. They also help in the selection of training resources and methods for reducing overall risks.

Educate yourself and your employees about local, state and federal standards and regulations.

Employers must be aware of laws, regulations and standards that their companies must comply with to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Regulations often vary from state to state, so management must remain aware of and compliant with current laws.

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Step 2: Implementing

Use best practices and principles that serve as a prevention approach to reducing or eliminating exposures. Preventing an incident in the first place is a far superior proactive approach than responding after the fact or in a reactive mode.

For example, an employee who reports a “close call” incident that gets the immediate attention of management may have prevented a serious or even traumatic event down the road.

Seek out and use assessment tools that have been proven in many industries to control workplace hazards. A good place to start is with the use of the hierarchy of control for preventing and controlling property damage and injury incidents in the workplace. This tool includes six levels of control procedures, from most effective to least effective way of introducing the level of risk, including:

  • Eliminate
  • Substitute
  • Engineering
  • Warnings
  • Administrate
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Eliminating the hazard altogether is the most effective means of achieving an acceptable level of risk. On the other end, using PPE is the least effective means of achieving an acceptable risk level. PPE will not prevent the incident from occurring; however, it will prevent less serious injury or health outcomes when selected and used properly.

Use properly timed and selected training methods and resources. Since most of our industry’s workers are adults, employers should adopt training methods suited to adult education principles. The training should provide the workers with information that is easily understood and applied to the work they perform. It should be conducted in a training environment that the workers can associate with and in a manner that doesn’t offend their existing knowledge level.

Read more: Worker PPE, Who Pays for It?

Step 3: Evaluating

Gauge the effectiveness of the policies, procedures and training that is being developed and presented. Try to keep the evaluation relevant to the quality of the training materials and not necessarily to the amount of time being spent on training. In other words, you will want to measure whether the training is providing the employees with information that will help them avoid hazardous work conditions now and in the future.

Assess the amount of time being allocated to training and whether it needs to be increased or decreased. A 10- to 15-minute worksite training session (e.g., tailgate training) can be very effective if the trainer is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the topic.

The training session should not be delivered as a lecture. Instead, try to keep it hands-on and interactive to keep employees engaged. When you involve the workers, they will tend to retain more information that will help them avoid hazards.

Keep these steps in mind as you establish your safety and health program and have your safest spring yet.

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