How to Improve Employee Safety Training

Accidents are costly

While at first glance manufacturing seems to be all about the machinery, when it comes to safety, the employees who operate the equipment are the bottom line. Without proper safety training, accidents and injuries are bound to occur.

Downtime caused by injuries is not only detrimental to the injured worker; it is also costly to the company. Injuries and accidents can cause shutdowns, of course, but can also damage your workers’ confidence in their ability to do their work safely, which can contribute to poor quality of work and slowed production.

Prevention is key

The key to accident prevention is high-quality safety training. Here are a few tips for improving your employee safety-training program.

Think multimedia: In 1983, educational researcher Howard Gardner introduced the idea that different people learn in different ways. He divided learners into three categories: visual learners, auditory learners and kinetic — or physical — learners. Public educators have put Gardner’s theories to good use ever since. When designing your safety-training program, use a combination of approaches. By combining videos, lectures and hands-on practice, for example, you’ll have the most impact on your diverse audience.

Train your trainers: Make sure your safety instructors are well versed in their subject. If they are unclear about any aspect of the safety course they are trying to run, they will not be able to teach it correctly. Be sure, as well, that the training they offer is site specific. Different areas of your manufacturing process will have different safety concerns. Training for employees who work in these areas should target their specific needs.

Engage your audience: Find a way to make your training program engaging. Even employees who know how important this training is to their own health and security will zone out during a dull lecture. If at all possible, find a way to make your training program humorous or, at the very least, thought provoking.

General topics matter, too: While the safe handling of your materials and processes is, of course, your main objective for safety training, don’t overlook general safety topics, either. Be sure your safety course covers topics such as first aid, accident reporting, the possibility of blood-borne pathogens, and evacuation procedures.

Use of personal protective equipment (PPE): The cornerstone of safety in most manufacturing environments is the use of PPEs. Be sure that your training program covers the use of all the protective equipment your employees will need to use, such as earplugs, safety glasses, gloves, hard hats or respirators. PPE training should not only cover which equipment to use, but also how to use it properly. A respirator is not effective if it is not worn securely, or if the filter cartridges are not changed regularly. This is a good place, too, for some hands-on learning. Have your employees practice using the equipment during their training.

Don’t forget the floors: Falls, slips and trips, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, caused more than 200,000 injuries at privately owned businesses in 2012. During safety training, employees should be taught how to clean up spills safely. They should be made aware of tripping hazards such as loose or dangling cords, wires and cables. If they work in maintenance, they should know not to leave cords or wires in the path of foot traffic.

Revisit the topic: Learning is a gradual process for everyone. If you present your employees with a lot of data at a single safety training session, it is unlikely that they will remember all of it — especially if they don’t regularly encounter all the situations that were covered. Find ways to revisit your safety training. Include a “safety tips” section in your monthly newsletter, for example, or have a light-hearted “pop quiz” at your next morning meeting, letting employees shout out answers to safety-related questions.

Make safety training one of your business priorities. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also the cost-effective thing to do.

About the author:

Carol Sabovik is the Marketing Manager of TPC Wire & Cable Corp. in Macedonia, OH. TPC Wire & Cable is a leading wire and cable manufacturer that supplies industrial components used in harsh environments, such as cables, wires and electrical components. TPC’s products are designed and engineered to withstand harsh conditions including abrasion, impact, and extreme temperatures.

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