Solution Summary: Worker Training
OSHA's Training Guidelines is a useful document to help contractors plan and conduct effective training. The guidelines are summarized below.
Determining If Training is Needed
First determine whether a problem can be solved by training. Other actions (such as hazard abatement or the implementation of engineering controls) might better enable employees to perform their jobs properly.
Problems that can be addressed effectively by training include those that arise from lack of knowledge of a work process, unfamiliarity with equipment, or incorrect execution of a task. Training is less effective (but still can be used) for problems arising from an employee's lack of motivation or lack of attention to the job. Whatever its purpose, training is most effective when designed in relation to the goals of the employer's total safety and health program.
Identifying Training Needs
If the problem is one that can be solved, in whole or in part, by training, determine what training is needed. Determine what the employee is expected to do and in what ways, if any, the employee's performance is deficient.
The content of the specific Federal or State OSHA standards applicable to a business can provide direction in developing training content. Another option is to conduct a Job Hazard Analysis. This is a procedure for studying and recording each step of a job, to identify existing or potential hazards.
Another method of identifying employee populations at high levels of risk is to examine the incidence of accidents and injuries, both within the company and within the industry. If employees in certain occupational categories are experiencing higher accident and injury rates than other employees, training may be one way to reduce that rate. In addition, thorough accident investigation can identify not only specific employees who could benefit from training but also identify company-wide training needs.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) can also provide information for training employees in the safe use of materials. These data sheets, developed by chemical manufacturers and importers, are supplied with manufacturing or construction materials and describe the ingredients of a product, its hazards, protective equipment to be used, safe handling procedures, and emergency first-aid responses. The information contained in these sheets can help employers identify employees in need of training (i.e., workers handling substances described in the sheets) and train employees in safe use of the substances. Material Safety Data Sheets are generally available from suppliers, and manufacturers of the substance.
The employees themselves can provide valuable information on the training they need. Safety and health hazards can be identified through the employees' responses to such questions as whether anything about their jobs frightens them, if they have had any near-miss incidents, if they feel they are taking risks, or if they believe that their jobs involve hazardous operations or substances.
Identifying Goals and Objectives
Once the employees' training needs have been identified, employers can then prepare objectives for the training.
Learning objectives do not necessarily have to be written, but in order for the training to be as successful as possible, clear and measurable objectives should be identified before the training begins. For each objectives should describe the conditions under which the individual will demonstrate competence and define what constitutes acceptable performance.
Using specific, action-oriented language, the instructional objectives should describe the preferred practice or skill and its observable behavior. For example, rather than using the statement: "The employee will understand how to use a respirator" as an instructional objective, it would be better to say: "The employee will be able to describe how a respirator works and when it should be used." Objectives are most effective when worded in sufficient detail that other qualified persons can recognize when the desired behavior is exhibited.
Conducting the Training
The training should be presented so that its organization and meaning are clear to the employees. To do so, employers or supervisors should: (1) provide overviews of the material to be learned; (2) relate, wherever possible, the new information or skills to the employee's goals, interests, or experience; and (3) reinforce what the employees learned by summarizing the program's objectives and the key points of information covered.
An effective training program allows employees to participate in the training process and to practice their skills or knowledge. Employees can become involved in the training process by participating in discussions, asking questions, contributing their knowledge and expertise, learning through hands-on experiences, and through role-playing exercises.
Evaluating Program Effectiveness
Evaluation will help employers or supervisors determine the amount of learning achieved and whether an employee's performance has improved on the job. Evaluation can include: (1) Student opinion. Questionnaires or informal discussions with employees can help employers determine the relevance and appropriateness of the training program; (2) Supervisors' observations. Supervisors are in good positions to observe an employee's performance both before and after the training and note improvements or changes; and (3) Workplace improvements. The ultimate success of a training program may be changes throughout the workplace that result in reduced injury or accident rates.
Hazards from the use of Hand Tools in construction that can be reduced or eliminated by following an appropriate work practice.
How Risks are Reduced:
Increasing the workers common knowledge of hazards and proper work methods improves crew teamwork and enhances the safety culture.
A Controlled study (Carey et al) has demonstrated that training can improve compliance with proper work practices.
Effects on Productivity:
Safety training requires time away from job tasks but may also facilitate the more efficient competion of those tasks by reducing down time for injuries and unsafe conditions and practices.
- Just handing out factsheets and toolbox talks to workers doesn’t work.
- Providing copies after toolbox talks doesn't make much of an impact to changing behavior on worksites.
- Using case studies (real life stories of accidents that ended in fatality or injury) in toolbox talks is effective.
- When toolbox talks containing case studies were accompanied by discussion questions to encourage group participation, they were more effective. Consequently, getting the workers to participate in the discussion about the case study is important. It's not enough to tell the story, it is better to have the workers engage in problem solving that analyzes why the accident occurred and how it could have been prevented. Active learning is always better than passive
How should you deliver these toolbox talks?
- Choose a topic that is related to work going on at the site.
- Hold the meeting on the job, preferably where everyone can sit and relax.
- Hold the meeting at the beginning of a shift or after a break. Folks are too tired at the end of a shift to carefully listen and they want to get home.
- Read the toolbox talk sheet on the topic prior to conducting the talk.
- Start at the top of the form and work right through to the end, which should take around 10 to 15 minutes.
- Use the questions provided to generate discussions. Always allow time for the crew to respond to your questions before you provide an answer.
- Review the case study and emphasize that this was a real incident. Ask the crew for a case study before you review the one provided, however.
- Always end with a discussion of the particular worksite where you are conducting the talk. Tie the talk as closely to hazards on the site as possible and encourage the crew to constantly look for and immediately correct hazards. They should also know how to report any problems that can’t be immediately corrected.
- Provide copies to each person, if you like, but NIOSH has not found that to be particularly effective.
- Encourage workers to do similar talks on their sites and provide them with the IUOE phone number for ordering in bulk.
- Have everyone sign the back of the form to indicate they attended this session and point out it is a pledge to look out for the health and safety of everyone on the site.
Toolbox (Tailgate) Trainings
Toolbox (tailgate) safety trainings are 10-15 minute job-site sessions, usually led by a supervisor or tradesperson, that focus on actual, current hazards on the job. Toolbox trainings are best used to keep workers aware of specific hazards in their workplace. They should not be used as a substitute for required training but may serve to supplement or refresh that training. Topics should be chosen based upon the hazards of upcoming or ongoing work and the supervisor’s or crew’s observation of work practices or conditions that need correction or additional emphasis.
Toolbox meetings should be short and held in a relaxed atmosphere at the beginning of the shift or after lunch or a break. The topic should be limited in scope and relevant to the current work. Employee participation should be encouraged.
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