Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) managers figured out a long time ago that the rewards/punishment approach tends to encourage workers to do the right thing when they think they’re being watched—not necessarily all the time. Throwing an office pizza party to celebrate a certain number of accident-free days is great, but today’s safety managers are changing worker behavior by inspiring them to do the right thing all the time. They coach employees and teach safety skills so the employees will make safe choices on their own, with or without the pizza.
If your company is building a culture of safety, and you’re the one tasked with setting it up, you’ll need to establish expected patterns of behavior for workers to follow. Managers don’t just threaten employees. Instead, bosses and co-workers must be empowered to reward one another when something is done the right way. Safety managers are the ones who make it possible.
You’ll need to begin with written safety programs or plans. Which kind you create will depend on your industry, but common areas of focus include:
- Fall protection
- Hearing, respiratory, and vision protection
- General accident prevention
- Personal protective equipment
- Hazardous material handling
Common components of workplace safety plans include:
- Risk assessment and consultation
- Safeguarding (machines or processes)
- Employee competency training
- Document retention
- Change management
- Technology solutions
- Safety committees
- Return-to-work procedures following incidents
- Incident investigation and reporting
Learn more in our new guide, How to Build a Safety Program, here.
How will employees get the EHS or OSHA training they need?
You can send your workers to a training center or you can get on-site training at your place of business. Either way, class size and duration should be flexible so you can minimize production downtime. Sometimes having a coach watching every step along the way can be an effective way to keep employees motivated. Traditional on-site EHS “coaches” can customize a program to meet the needs of a specific business and its departments. Another benefit of the classroom approach is that workers not familiar with technology may be more comfortable learning in a face-to-face environment.
The most popular way to get EHS or OSHA training these days is through online training programs. The largest OSHA-authorized provider of OSHA Outreach 10 and 30-Hour Construction and General Industry courses is 360training.com (parent company of OSHAcampus.com), which also offers EHS courses that come with a free Learning Management System (LMS).
Online training programs are popular because they reduce training time, they allow each worker to train according to his or her schedule, they’re more interesting than a lecture/slideshow method, and they cost less than traditional classroom training environments. That said, computer-based training must be accessible to your workers. Many workers may not have experience with computers, so basic technology skills must be part of training.
You might be surprised to learn that even novice computer users often prefer online training to classroom alternatives. Make sure your people get the introduction to computer skills (how to use a mouse, for example) and that they can complete their training in an environment that is free from distractions. They should be comfortable and not feel rushed to get back to their regular duties. Make sure they know whom to approach with questions and ideas.
Your online OSHA/EHS training will be directed by instructors who are there to help. As you go through the training process, be sure to get feedback from your workers. Their input will help fine-tune the program and continue to improve your culture of safety.