Do my workers need OSHA safety training?

Why LBA University training is important. Safety training is seen by some as simply a cost in money and worker productivity. Well run businesses see it as time and money well spent, and regard it as an investment rather than an expense. It has been shown time and time again that an effective program of safety and health training pays dividends. Accidents and injuries both delay work and may cost in civil and criminal liabilities, lawyers' fees, and medical expenses. For many businesses, insurance and workers compensation rates may go up. Further, the morale of a well-trained and safe work force will go up, helping to retain workers and reduce the cost of training new hires.

For many, a very compelling reason is the potential for big-dollar penalties from OSHA, or its state equivalents if their safety regulations are not complied with.

What is OSHA looking for? Here are some excerpts from OSHA's own training recommendation manual:

Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, also known as the General Duty Clause, requires employers to furnish a workplace which is free from recognized hazards which may cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

Many standards promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explicitly require the employer to train employees in the safety and health aspects of their jobs. 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. The term "designated" personnel means selected or assigned by the employer or the employer's representative as being qualified to perform specific duties. These requirements reflect OSHA's belief that training is an essential part of every employer's safety and health program for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses. Many researchers conclude that those who are new on the job have a higher rate of accidents and injuries than more experienced workers. If ignorance of specific job hazards and of proper work practices is even partly to blame for this higher injury rate, then training will help to provide a solution.

It is usually a good idea for the employer to keep a record of all safety and health training. Records can provide evidence of the employer's good faith and compliance with OSHA standards. Documentation can also supply an answer to one of the first questions an accident investigator will ask: "Was the injured employee trained to do the job?"

Training in the proper performance of a job for workers can result in fewer injuries and illnesses, better morale, and lower insurance premiums, among other benefits.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 does not address specifically the responsibility of employers to provide health and safety information and instruction to employees, although Section 5(a)(2) does require that each employer ". . shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act." However, more than 100 of the Act's current standards do contain training requirements.

As seen in these statements quoted from QSHA provided training guidelines, training is considered mandatory in many topic areas. Others are elective. Safety is management knowing the hazards that exist in work areas and calibrating training policies to protect employees against them.

The question of the re-training of employees is frequently asked. Retraining is an on-going necessity since industries and work environments continually change, introducing new and different lessons to learn. Other reasons surface for re-training; like a near-miss, accidents, and obvious lack of knowledge by an individual to work safe in their activities. There is no general rule for retraining frequency. In some cases OSHA requires, and many safety experts advocate, that retraining should occur at least annually. LBA University concurs with annual retraining policies. In the end, it is always the employer's responsibility to ensure that the retraining policy in each area is adequate to protect workers and ensure safe work practices.

For questions about safety training email stacey.moore@lbagroup.com or call 252-757-0279.

About The Author

LBA Group, Inc. has 50 years of experience in providing RF asset solutions and risk management for industrial and telecommunications infrastructure assets. The company is comprised of LBA Technology, a leading manufacturer and integrator of radio frequency systems, lightning protection, and EMC equipment for broadcast, industrial, and government users worldwide; the professional engineering consultancy Lawrence Behr Associates, and LBA University, providing on-site and online professional training. The companies are based in Greenville, N.C., USA.

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