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Taking workplace safety training to the next level

For more than 100 years, the federal government has recognized the necessity of enforcing minimum safety training standards in hazardous industries. Before the government regulated safety training standards, workers died at far higher rates than they do now. Unfortunately, even strict government oversight has not eliminated workplace injury and work-related fatalities from the American experience.

There are only a few surefire ways that American employers can help to reduce rates of workplace injury and work-related fatalities nationwide. First, they can comply with existing federal safety standards consistently. Second, they can elevate their safety training and overall safety culture as a sincere priority.

Safety training is critical. But even if trainers are conveying the right safety information to employees, the information will be lost if workers do not understand the information or cannot retain it properly. That is why one of the most critical changes that many employers need to make to their safety training protocols is ensuring that workers whose primary language is not English and workers who may not be as educated as others thoroughly understand and can retain training materials and messaging.

In addition, it is critical that ongoing safety training is incorporated into the safety culture of any hazardous enterprise. What may have seemed like an urgent safety message on day one of a new job may have gotten lost in the shuffle of production. Refreshing and updating safety training messages regularly are endeavors likely to reduce the prevalence of work-related accidents in any potentially hazardous industry.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety Magazine, “The Future of Safety Training,” Carol Leaman, Sep. 23, 2013

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