Evaluating Training

With a research facility’s typical mix of research laboratories, instrument rooms, chemical storage, waste handling and busy receiving/loading docks, a wide array of hazards is always present.

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An Effective Occupational Safety and Health Training Program Rewards Managers with Fewer Injuries and a Better-Educated and Motivated Workforce

The average laboratory research facility contains more than its fair share of hazards.

With a research facility’s typical mix of research laboratories, instrument rooms, chemical storage, waste handling and busy receiving/loading docks, a wide array of hazards is always present. Every day, employees must deal with these hazards while hopefully avoiding accidents and injuries. As you will soon discover, well-trained employees often do a much better job at this than average or untrained workers. In this issue of Lab Manager we look at how to evaluate your training programs.

In day-to-day operations, we constantly encounter potential risks to our health and safety. Chemical safety, ergonomics, fire safety, hazard communication, housekeeping, lockout/ tagout and material handling are a few areas that come to mind. If you haven’t noticed, more than 100 OSHA standards for the control of hazards in the workplace contain requirements for training in order to reduce potential for injury. During the period between 1980 and 1996, 80 reports were reviewed in which training was used to reduce risk of work-related injury1. This review found overwhelming evidence demonstrating the value of training in increasing worker knowledge of job hazards and effecting safer work practices. On the flip side, a lack of training was found to be a contributing factor in worker injuries and workplace fatalities, further reinforcing the review’s findings. A quick read of this publication should motivate you to take the time to evaluate your current training programs. So let’s get started.

In day-to-day operations, we constantly encounter potential risks to our health and safety. Chemical safety, ergonomics, fire safety, hazard communication, housekeeping, lockout/ tagout and material handling are a few areas that come to mind. If you haven’t noticed, more than 100 OSHA standards for the control of hazards in the workplace contain requirements for training in order to reduce potential for injury. During the period between 1980 and 1996, 80 reports were reviewed in which training was used to reduce risk of work-related injury1. This review found overwhelming evidence demonstrating the value of training in increasing worker knowledge of job hazards and effecting safer work practices. On the flip side, a lack of training was found to be a contributing factor in worker injuries and workplace fatalities, further reinforcing the review’s findings. A quick read of this publication should motivate you to take the time to evaluate your current training programs. So let’s get started.

 

  1. Can employees recognize and identify hazards in the workplace?
  2. Can employees recognize how these hazards result in personal injury, property damage or both?
  3. Can employees describe and apply appropriate safe work procedures and practices to cope with these hazards?

 

To help answer these questions, we suggest first taking a hard look at your facilities’ safety record. Pull all recent accident and injury reports and trace each to its source area. Don’t forget to include reports of near misses and close calls. If your organization doesn’t have these, seriously consider implementing a procedure for reporting them. A careful review of this data should help you identify areas of your facility, particular job tasks or position classifications in need of training. From here you can prioritize training topics and target your audience.

Your next step is to examine your current training model using the OSHA voluntary training guidelines. These seven guidelines will walk you through the entire process, from development to delivery, and then loop back through evaluating and improving your training programs. The seven guidelines are summarized here2:

  1. Determine if training is needed. Should engineering or physical controls be used? Should the work process be changed, or is it really a question of increasing employees’ knowledge of safe work practices?
  2. Identify training needs. Examine the facilities’ health and safety record. Go over your job hazard analyses. Another very good means for identifying what training is needed and where improvements can be made is to solicit worker or supervisor perceptions and suggestions. Also, do not forget to include applicable federal and state requirements.
  3. Identify goals and objectives. Clearly state what the training is intended to achieve, and develop explicit, observable evidence that it has been met. In other words, a specific objective is much better than a vague goal.
  4. Develop learning activities. Good instruction that targets well-defined objectives should include mental and/ or physical skills required to meet the specified needs. Use of actions and situations that simulate actual conditions is very effective. It is important that the activities allow employees to demonstrate that they have assimilated the desired knowledge.
  5. Conduct the training. The teaching format should invite worker participation and provide hands-on exercises to promote active learning. Use of many means of motivating and maintaining student interest is encouraged—one of the best ways to do so is to emphasize the benefits of training and relate the training to current skill levels and experiences.
  6. Evaluate program effectiveness. Determine whether the training has accomplished the objectives of each training session. Use of student/ trainee opinions and feedback as well as supervisor observations and workplace improvements is recognized as effective for this purpose.
  7. Improve the program. Revise aspects of the training based on evaluations from previous steps. Offer periodic retraining. Determine course deficiencies and identify needed revisions by repeating all steps of the training model.

It is clear in the mountains of literature and heaps of studies performed that the role of training is fundamental to developing and maintaining effective hazard avoidance. The issue is not whether safety and health training can reduce risks from workplace hazards, but rather determining how to maximize these training effects. Following the voluntary OSHA training guidelines will put you on a path to an excellent occupational safety and health training program. Cycling through the seven guidelines and putting emphasis on the last two, evaluating the effectiveness and improving the programs, often rewards you with fewer injuries and a better-educated and motivated workforce.

References

1. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/98-145-b.html#data— Assessing Occupational Safety and Health Training, NIOSH publication 98-145.

2. http://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/docs/ MTP101703.pdf—Online manual of OSHA’s training model with presentation slides. US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Washington, DC.

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/products/pdfs/ ic_cmr.pdf—CMR Hazard Recognition Training Program, NIOSH publication 1999.

Categories: Lab Health and Safety

Published In

Social Responsibility Magazine Issue Cover
Social Responsibility

Published: September 1, 2009

Cover Story

Social Responsibility

I do think that were entering an age when scientists are increasingly aware of the social and political implications of their work. Many scientists are not just open to the idea of interacting with the public, but see that as an obligation. - Dietra