How not to do safety training - a look back to 1943

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

The approach to safety training in this 1943 clip is still common in workplaces today. However, we know how to create more effective training programs. Workplace health and safety training is for instructing workers in recognizing known hazards and using available methods for protection. Worker education, in contrast, prepares one to deal with potential hazards or unforeseen problems; guidance is given in ways to become better informed and to seek actions aimed at eliminating the hazard. Workplace health and safety training and education programs are often placed into one of these four approaches: fundamental, recognition, problem-solving, and empowerment programs.

Fundamentals Programs: These programs involve instruction in prevention of work-related injury and illness through proper use and maintenance of tools, equipment, materials; knowledge of emergency procedures; personal hygiene measures; needs for medical monitoring; and use of personal protective equipment for non-routine operations or as an interim safeguard until engineering controls can be implemented.

Recognition Programs: These programs include instruction emphasizing awareness of workplace hazards; knowledge of methods of hazard elimination or control; understanding right-to-know laws and ways for collecting information on workplace hazards; recognizing symptoms of toxic exposures; and observing and reporting hazards or potential hazards to appropriate bodies. Training activities of this type were spurred largely by the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (OSHA, 1983). The standard required employers to inform workers of chemical hazards found in their work areas and of ways to reduce apparent risk. Use of Material Safety Data Sheets and labels along with training are the three means prescribed for communicating the essential information.

Problem-Solving Programs: Instruction is aimed at giving workers the information and skills enabling them to participate in hazard recognition and control activities; to help identify/solve problems through teamwork, to use union and management means, and to exercise rights to have outside agencies investigate workplace hazards when warranted. Inviting worker input in company planning or in design of new operations or processes is recognized as a viable means for improving productivity, quality of products, and worker motivation. Extending this approach to hazard control seems reasonable especially since workers, owing to their everyday job work experience, possess an intimate knowledge of the hazards connected with their jobs and could be a rich source for corrective ideas.

Empowerment Programs: These programs provide instruction to build and broaden worker skills in hazard recognition and problem-solving skills much like that noted above. Emphasis, however, is on worker activism with the goal of ensuring their rights to an illness-and injury-free workplace. Hence, the program aims at enabling workers to effect necessary control measures through educating co-workers and supervisors, and through use of committee processes or in health/safety contract negotiations.

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