No matter what industry, most companies can agree that working safely is paramount. According to official numbers from Canada’s workers’ compensation agencies close to 1,000 Canadians die each year because of their jobs. This is why it is important to have a solid safety training program to ensure that when your employees are doing a job, they’re doing it the safest way possible.
Whether you’re just starting or looking to revamp an existing program, here are 7 key steps to build a successful safety training program:
Incorporate safety into your company’s mission statement or core values. Making a serious and public commitment to safety is an important first step, as it forces you to be accountable. Take some time to define your safety goals for the year, just as you would set financial goals. For example, set a goal to have fewer than 5 incidents this year and no lost time. Measure your performance during the year and compare the results with your goals. Having a safety statement and goals keeps safety top-of-mind for everyone in the company. This is a great way to start developing a culture of safety, which you can learn more about in Safety Culture: Why It’s Important and How to Create One
What safety regulations or acts exist in your area? What are the specific precautions you should be taking in your industry? Take time to review what is required in your province for your safety program. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) has many resources available to guide you. If there is specific legislation enforced within your industry or province, take note so it can be incorporated into your training program.
Based on your specific industry and provincial requirements, identify the risks that are unique to your service or product. Perform a detailed inspection of your workplaces. Whether work takes place in a shop or an office, inspect every potential hazard, materials and tools and take notes for reference during the next step. Completing a detailed inspection will help ensure that your policies and procedures address every potential hazard company across all departments.
Develop policies and procedures around the hazards you identified, as well as the recommendations outlined by your province. Create policies to mitigate risk and document proper procedures to ensure safe work. For example, a potential risk of lifting a fence panel might be back strain. Documenting the proper technique for lifting the fence helps teach your employees how to avoid strain. The safest way to do something may not be obvious to a new employee, so it’s important to document these procedures. Your policies and procedures should be safe, practical and efficient.
Now that you have developed your policies, educate your employees on everything you know. Usually, a combination of both in-class training and hands-on training works best. Ensure they read over your Health & Safety policies and proper work procedures before doing any hands-on training. Have employees sign an acknowledgment form to document that they have read and understood your policies. When implementing training, look to senior or tenured employees as potential trainers. Their practical experience can make them excellent teachers. Just make sure they’ve been properly educated on any new policies or safe operating procedures.
In most provinces, you are required by law to record and report all incidents. But beyond the legal requirement, recording incidents is a good idea because it can help you identify potential shortcomings in your training program. For example, if you see a lot of trip and fall incidents, it may be an indication that more training about trip hazards is required. At the very least, chat with your teams to remind them about relevant procedures. Modu-Loc has weekly toolbox meetings with all of our field employees to review policies. We take those opportunities to reinforce procedures if we see that some re-education is needed.
Tracking incidents by region or season can help you identify trends. Perhaps there is one particular location that needs a little extra help with understanding your policies. Do you see an increase in heat-related illnesses in the summer time? You can use that information to get ahead of the problem with some strategic communication next year. Keeping health & safety top-of-mind at all times is key to successfully reducing the number of incidents. Tracking incidents on a monthly or annual basis will also help you see how close you have come to your health & safety goals.
Ensure your safety training program isn’t just a one-time event. As you study the trends, take notes and make any necessary changes to the program. At the end of each year, take the time to review the procedures with your team and think about ways to improve. Be sure to get feedback from recent trainees and tenured employees alike. That way, when it comes time to re-educate, you will be providing the highest quality and most relevant information possible. Hold training sessions for all new and tenured employees at regular intervals. Even for veteran employees, getting a good re-fresher can be exactly what they need to identify those potential health & safety issues in the moment.
Whether you are implementing a new safety program or just looking to improve, remember these three words: record, review and re-educate. A safety training program is only good if it is continuously maintained and revisited. It’s normal for employees to develop bad habits, but having a consistent program in place will prevent those habits from forming and mitigate potential risks. Involve your employees in the process, and make sure everyone is prepared for any hazard they might face.
We’re here to answer any questions you may have.