Why Employee Training is Crucial in Ensuring a Safe Workplace

Construction worker
Guest Author
August 7 2023

No matter the industry in question, all employees working in the modern age should have the right to return home to their families in the same state in which they left, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Data published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals over 2.5 million non-fatal and 5000 fatal workplace injuries were recorded during 2021 alone, the latter of which demonstrating a significant increase of almost 9% when compared to the previous year.

Whilst there are numerous factors that can contribute to an increased risk of injury in workplace environments, including faulty equipment and overexertion, studies indicate a clear correlation between inadequate employee training programs and a higher frequency of workplace injuries.

When employees understand both the dangers involved in performing their roles and the tried and tested methods available to mitigate risks, the frequency of serious workplace injuries is likely to decrease. For HR personnel and management teams committed to protecting their team members from harm, here’s why employee training is crucial in ensuring a safe workplace.

What Is Employee Safety Training?

Though many management teams may assume employee safety training is as simple as telling staff how to safely operate equipment, and ensuring training manuals are made accessible to all teams, effective work training programs require a continual commitment from management staff.

Alongside providing employees with the knowledge and skills needed to perform their duties in a safe and efficient manner, organizations must create well-researched instructions and guidelines used to help workers identify risks, report them promptly and respond to incidents appropriately.

Identifying hazards

The first step towards creating a safe work environment involves identifying every potential hazard that employees may come across. Whether we’re talking about the construction industry or office workers, the basic framework will remain the same. Management teams and health and safety officers must inspect the property in search of any hazards that could result in injury.

Teams should observe:

  • How tasks are being performed by staff
  • The design and layout of the workplace
  • The condition of the equipment being used

Workplace hazards typically involve a combination of factors including the physical workspace, the equipment used and the methods staff follow to complete tasks. For example, machines with moving parts installed too close together, in a position that prevents staff from standing upright and operated by workers wearing loose clothing, would represent a serious workplace hazard.

Incident reporting

Effective employee training programs should be used to promote a culture of incident reporting amongst staff. Employees must have a quick and reliable method of communicating hazards to fellow workers and management teams to prevent repeat incidents and inform policy changes.

Alongside immediate responses such as sounding emergency alarms and contacting relevant health and safety officials, a detailed incident report document should be completed, including:

  • he data and time of the event
  • A detailed description of the incident
  • The names of the affected persons
  • The author of the report
  • Witness statements
  • The result of the event

Incident response

Employees will likely be the first individuals in the workplace to notice unfolding incidents, so it’s vital that all staff members understand how to appropriately respond to common hazards. Great incident responses begin with hazard prevention, meaning frequent staff training regarding all active equipment and technology must be provided to keep staff up-to-date with new processes.

Clear expectations must also be set for how workers are to respond to hazardous incidents. A decision-making process should be defined outlining the steps staff must take to reduce further risks, including how to safely shut down equipment, which on-site or local authorities to contact and how to safely evacuate the area if necessary. This process should be frequently assessed.

Why Is Employee Training Important?

Reduces accidents and injuries

The primary benefit of implementing well-researched and frequent employee training programs is a measurable reduction in serious accidents and injuries. Data published by OSHA found that organizations operating injury prevention and wider staff training programs were able to reduce the number of hazardous incidents in their workplaces by as much as 60%. Staff that learn how to follow relevant safety protocols will be better prepared to avoid serious hazards in the future.

It’s important to remember, however, that safety training programs are only truly effective when performed frequently. Alongside staff potentially forgetting safety information after some time, new equipment and processes may be introduced requiring staff to learn new safety protocols.

Improves productivity

As effective employee training programs can reduce the number of injuries and accidents that occur in the workplace, management teams can expect to observe lowered rates of sickness and absenteeism across the board, resulting in improved productivity and happier employees.

In addition, staff who are provided with the resources they need to safely perform their duties will likely feel more engaged within their roles, and may even wish to pursue additional training programs to expand upon existing skill sets and take on positions with more responsibility.

Increases employee awareness

Each workplace will be at risk from a number of specific hazards that workers may not consider without prior warning. Retail staff may not account for the risks of improperly lifting heavy stock, hospital staff might overlook potential slip hazards and office-based workers may not think about the possible dangers associated with sharing property access codes and security credentials.

By frequently reminding employees of these dangers and providing staff with the resources they need to mitigate risks, management teams can ensure a safe workplace through a collaborative effort to identify, address and respond to hazardous incidents shared across all departments.

Supports a strong safety culture

If employees are frequently engaged in conversations and activities centered around workplace safety, they’re more likely to weave health and safety practices into their daily routines. Creating a strong safety culture may also empower staff to suggest safety and security improvements.

For example, with safety on their minds, employees may notice a lack of a wireless elevator camerasystem or access control devices that could expose vulnerabilities in wider security systems or dedicate more time to checking equipment maintenance logs before operating machinery. By ensuring health and safety practices are frequently discussed, staff are more likely to retain information.

By keeping health and safety at the forefront of all employee’s minds, hazardous incidents can be avoided, safety policies can be improved and businesses can develop a strong safety culture in which staff play an active role in suggesting vital safety improvements for management teams to pursue. This is why employee training is crucial in ensuring a safe workplace for all to enjoy.

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