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Benefits of an Equipment Safety Training Program

Benefits of an Equipment Safety Training Program


An effective equipment safety training program can reduce the number of injuries, property damage, legal liability, illnesses, workers' compensation claims, and missed time from work. An equipment safety training program can also help a company meet OSHA regulations and requirements.

Equipment safety training classes help establish a safety culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of equipment safety as it is easy for seasoned workers to negatively influence the new hires. That negative influence however, can be purged with the establishment of new, hands-on, innovative effective safety training which will ultimately lead to effective health and safety in the workplace.

The first thing an company needs to ask itself when creating a workplace safety training program is, what type of equipment do we want to include in our training program. OSHA regulations can be a little vague. Therefore, most safety consultants will agree that safety programs must include training on all types of equipment used by all employees. Simply put, if you use the equipment, you must be trained. Other OSHA standards make it the employer’s responsibility to limit certain job assignments to employees who are “certified,” “competent,” or “qualified”—meaning that they have had special previous training, in or out of the workplace. Some equipment safety training requirements may fall under this category. OSHA’s equipment training guidelines follow a model that consists of:

A. Determining if Training is Needed

B. Identifying Training Needs

C. Identifying Goals and Objectives

D. Developing Learning Activities

E. Conducting the Training

F. Evaluating Program Effectiveness

G. Improving the Program

H. Training must align with job tasks.

As I stated, OSHA training requirements are somewhat vague when it comes to equipment training. One area however, that is as clear as day is the forklift training requirement. OSHA regulations state that all forklift operators must receive training on the type of forklift he or she uses in the workplace. That could be anything from a motorized pallet jack to a 10,000 pound telescopic construction unit. This requirement reflects OSHA’s belief that forklift training is an essential part of every employer’s safety and health program for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses.

A good equipment safety training program identifies goals and objectives. It is important for the employer to identify necessary training material. It is equally important that the employer identify material that is not needed to avoid unnecessary training and frustration from their trainees. For example; it would not be necessary for a company whose employees never use scissor lifts to include scissor lift hazards in an aerial platform safety training program. Likewise, warehouse forklift operators would not need to learn how to read telescopic forklift load charts.

The employer must keep the equipment training certification as specific as possible. The equipment safety training should answer two basic questions. The first, how can my employees that operate this equipment, or any other employees around the equipment, get hurt? And secondly, how will I prevent that from happening?

To answer the first question a company must perform a hazard analysis. A hazard analysis is a systematic approach to identifying worksite hazards that may cause accidents and/or injuries. Hazard analysis can be accomplished by several methods including; inspections, recordkeeping reviews, safety manual incorporation, personal interviews etc.)

Once the company defines the hazard the next step is to control or eliminate the hazard. For example, a hazard may be operating equipment at night (i.e. limited visibility). The control method for the hazard would be utilizing lighting on the equipment. Employers must focus safety priorities on hazard control before workers are subject to the hazard.

Equipment safety training (e.g. scissor lift safety training, backhoe safety training, forklift safety training etc.) should involve determining how to operate the equipment safely and avoiding accidents which is a form of hazard control. Safety manuals are a great source for this information. All equipment manufacturers provide operators manuals for each piece of equipment. In the manuals is safety requirements for operators. Good equipment safety training programs include equipment manuals for classroom review.

Equipment safety training programs must also address worksite hazards. Environmental issues like surface conditions, overhead exposures, hills, and weather conditions can cause significant hazards to equipment operators. Part of a good equipment safety program is making operators aware of worksite hazards. Inspections and alertness are legitimate ways to reduce the likelihood of an equipment accident due to worksite conditions.

Training should be hands-on and simulate the job as closely as possible. Trainers can use instructional aids such as charts, manuals, PowerPoint presentations, and films. Trainers can also include role-playing, live demonstrations, and round-table group discussions to stimulate employee participation. Trainers should provide employees with an overview of the material to be learned and relate the training to the employees' experiences. Employers should also reinforce what the employees have learned by summarizing the program's objectives and key points of training. At the beginning of the training program, the trainer should show the employees why the material is important and relevant to their jobs.

Overall, equipment safety training programs are most efficient when they are company-specific and address all potential hazards. No two programs should be the same. When developing a safety program for your company’s equipment operators, keep in mind the program objective. Accidents and injuries must be controlled. The best safety programs include information from a variety of sources that meet or exceed your accident prevention goals.

 
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