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July 2015

Job Safety Training

Plan and prepare now for autumn training programs.

Written by Hans W. Hauschild | 0 comment

A lack of training often causes or contributes to on-the-job accidents. While it can be hard to predict or control human behavior, you can tilt the odds in your favor and reduce the potential for an accident through proper workplace training. OSHA estimates that safety management systems, including training, can reduce injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent.

That’s why OSHA requires employers to provide training to their employees, to pay them for time spent in training, and to present training in a manner that employees can understand. Once that’s done, it becomes the employee’s responsibility to follow the employer’s training guidelines—as long as these do not lead to an unsafe situation.

Training should take place before an employee begins a hazardous task, or when there are workplace changes, such as the introduction of new equipment. Retraining may be required whenever an employee demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the safety requirements or procedures.

Issues, equipment, and situations that may require training and are governed by OSHA standards:

•personal protection equipment (PPE)
• lockout/tagout
• fire extinguishers
• hazard communication
• fall protection
• electrical work
• power and hand tools
• welding
• scaffolding
• powered work platforms
• powered industrial trucks (forklifts, telehandlers, etc.)
• explosive and blasting agents
• motor vehicle use
• confined spaces
• specialized machine operation
• ladders

OSHA standards for some of these involve only simple basic training, such as PPE. Some, such as lockout/tagout, have specific requirements and procedures. Some standards only require training at the start of employment, and others mandate periodic training.

It may seem like a daunting task to assemble specific training materials for each of the above areas, but it can be easier than you might imagine. Training materials may be available from your suppliers, national organizations, regional organizations, or other resorts. Safety knowledge is a great resource resorts can—and should—share. You can customize these materials to fit your resort’s needs. If there is no program available, you may be able to use one from a similar or related process as a framework.

Additionally, the OSHA website has a large number of training resources available for download (

Your experienced employees can also help develop or customize the training materials that apply to their departments. Employees are more likely to follow procedures and training if they or their coworkers helped develop them.

Where Do We Start?
First, determine what job tasks need training. The above list provides a start, but each workplace has its own needs. Begin by examining areas in your resort where there are higher injury rates or near misses. Also, address areas and jobs where you have employees who are at a higher risk of injury. These areas may include less experienced employees, employees new to the workforce, or employees who work in high-risk tasks—at heights or with high voltage electrical, for example.

Once you identify the areas and tasks that need training, you can create training materials and a timeline for training your employees. Training for those at higher risk will be more involved (and take more time) than those at low risk. For example, the amount of time spent with a lock out/tag out procedure for lift repairs will be more involved than training for the use of safety glasses on the ski grinder. But both are important.

Structuring a Successful Program
A successful training program will offer materials and presentations suited to a diverse workforce. Most resorts have employees with a wide range of ages, various ethnic backgrounds, and cultural differences. Your training programs must be relevant to and grab the attention of all of them. It is important to give your employees the message in a manner they can understand.

To that end, keep the following concepts in mind as you craft your programs.

1. Keep it simple and in terms the group can understand.

2. Use different modes or media to transmit information.

3. Make sure employees understand “the why” and “the consequences.”

Typically, people learn by hearing, seeing, or doing. Work all three learning styles into your training program and you should be able to get most employees on track. For example, if you are using a PowerPoint presentation or printed handouts, keep the sentences short. Use diagrams and photographs to illustrate the topic. Present no more than 3 to 5 points per slide or page. And, where applicable, demonstrate procedures and processes, and then let employees practice the procedure themselves.

One example: training employees to put on a fall harness. First, you might explain the steps in simple terms. Then, show diagrams or photos of the process, or demonstrate the procedure. Last, have employees put on a harness themselves.

Be aware that different generations engage best with different media. Younger employees may pay better attention to a monitor or screen and flashy multimedia. Older employees may learn better from demonstrative examples. Your training should include some “talk” from an instructor who can present well. A good mix of words and demos will cover a diverse workforce and learning types.

Finally, the trainer needs to “check for understanding” from the employees. The trainer might ask them to demonstrate the proper use of personal protective equipment, perform the correct lockout/tagout procedure, or respond accurately to questions. Involve your employees in the presentation by asking questions they can answer, or having them become part of your demonstrations. The ultimate aim is to ensure that the employee(s) “got the message” and will follow the procedures.

Employees should also understand the consequences of not following proper procedures. These include how they may be injured, who will be affected, and how they will be disciplined. Those affected may include not only the employee, but other employees and the employee’s family. This is a good time to share cautionary stories of near misses or of people who have been injured. Employees can relate to a situation or story much easier if the person and situation are real. Such stories can be very powerful.

Make sure to document all training. The record should include the person trained, the trainer, and the date of the training. Retain copies of all training materials, and document any disciplinary actions and retraining sessions when an employee repeatedly violates procedures. OSHA will take the training record under consideration should you ever have an incident.

An effective training program starts with determining your needs and creating a plan. Then, assemble your materials, deliver your programs, and evaluate and improve both regularly. A successful program can produce operational cost reductions and engaged employees.