The majority of managers don’t enjoy designing safety training programs. It is understandable if you share these sentiments, as creating workplace safety training courses is tedious, time-consuming, and costly.
However, your employees are your most valuable asset and should be treated as such. Investing in safety training will help you increase the knowledge and skills of your team so you can protect your assets.
More importantly, providing your staff with access to quality online training programs is the right thing to do. Workplace safety courses will help your staff make it through every shift safely.
Safety training is a critical tool for your business as well. The use of safety training is essential to reducing turnover, improving productivity, ensuring compliance, and boosting employee morale.
Investing in occupational safety and health training has become more important than ever in light of the recent surge in total reported injury cases. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the total number of nonfatal workplace illnesses and injuries decreased by 1.8% from 2020 to 2021, this figure is misleading.
According to BLS data, illness cases dropped from over 544,000 in 2020 to approximately 365,000 in 2021. Unfortunately, injury cases rose from 2.1 million cases in 2020 to 2.2 million cases the following year. These figures represent a 6.3% increase.
The good news is that your organization can overcome these trends by leveraging a multifaceted approach to online training. Specifically, you must understand the correlation between workplace safety and key business outcomes.
Additionally, you need to forge a strong safety culture by hiring the right people, administering carefully crafted training, and providing staff with critical safety equipment.
How Are Key Business Results Tied to Safety Training and Culture?
Investing in safety training courses will help your organization cultivate a strong workplace safety culture. In turn, this culture will enable your business to achieve important business results. The following are some of the most notable positive business outcomes you can achieve through online courses for safety training.
Reduced Workers’ Comp Costs
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the 2021 net workers’ comp premium costs exceeded $42 Billion. While the specific costs of your company’s workers’ compensation insurance will vary based on the industry you operate within and the state in which you are located, workers’ comp undoubtedly represents a major overhead expense for your business.
When addressing workers’ comp costs, you must look behind the mere cost of a claim. This is because these immediate expenses are typically covered by your workers’ compensation policy. However, even if your policy includes all expenses associated with a claim, you will still experience a rate increase in the years following the incident.
If your business is the subject of severe and potentially frivolous claims, you could incur additional out-of-pocket expenses as well. According to 2021 data on OSHA’s website, employers paid out approximately $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs associated with non-fatal, disabling injuries.
Fortunately, you can mitigate workers’ compensation expenses through safety training. However, you will need to implement complementary strategies in order to maximize the efficacy of your training courses.
Enhancing workplace safety through training is an important part of any cost-reduction strategy. When occupational safety training is combined with good management practices, claims management processes, and effective candidate screening protocols, you can drastically reduce workers’ comp costs.
Decreased OSHA Reportable Incidents
In order to comply with OSHA standards, your business must report qualifying injury and illness incidents annually. This data provides OSHA with important insights regarding the state of workplace safety in private industry.
Your incident report has a direct impact on the way clients and employees view your business. Additionally, OSHA reportable incident data can influence your insurance costs and impact your ability to obtain lucrative contracts.
With so much riding on your OSHA reportable incident rate, it is critical that you proactively work to prevent reportable incidents. Providing staff with quality training materials and administering compliance training can help you do just that.
Before you start developing your safety and health program, it is important to know where you currently stand. When examining your OSHA reportable incident rate, you should compare it directly to the industry average. You can access industry-specific data on OSHA’s website.
After you know how your workplace stacks up to other companies, you can tailor your training and compliance program to address your company’s biggest pain points.
Some studies suggest that safety training will increase injury and illness reporting, at least temporarily. However, researchers also found that safety training will enhance workplace culture and decrease days-away-from-work incidents.
Decreasing OSHA reportable incidents will have a trickle-down effect that benefits your entire workforce. Helping employees avoid workplace accidents through training will create a sense of safety and security at your facility. When your team feels safe and confident in the workplace, they will do a better job.
A lowered OSHA reportable incident rate will also make your company a more appealing option if you operate within a sector that bids for contracts, such as the construction industry. Over time, this perk will help you win more lucrative contracts, increase revenue, and grow your business.
Improved Morale and Productivity
According to the American Psychological Association, empathy “motivates many types of prosocial behaviors.” Additionally, empathy can discourage behaviors such as bullying, workplace violence, and aggression.
So what does this have to do with safety training? It’s simple — investing in occupational safety training is a means of demonstrating your business is empathetic toward the needs of your staff.
According to Gallup, less than 25% of U.S. workers believe that their employer cares about their wellness. While safety training alone will not enable you to completely break away from this trend, it is a great first step.
When you are developing a training program, make sure to frame it around the employees and their needs. Explain to your staff that you are implementing safety courses and health training so they can safely and efficiently perform their jobs.
By taking an “it’s about you” approach, you can improve compliance and tap into business benefits, all while developing a safe workplace for your staff.
With that being said, it is vital that you hire trainable staff from the outset. Toxic employees are unlikely to be receptive to safety training programs, no matter how you frame them.
The efficacy of your entire workplace safety training program hinges on the quality of your staff. The good news is that you can get it right when selecting new candidates by leveraging integrity testing. Integrity tests reveal which candidates are risky hires and which are a good fit for the type of safety culture you want to create.
Better Employee Engagement
According to Gallup, 65% of the U.S. workforce is actively disengaged or not engaged. Gallup also found that disengaged employees are less productive, more likely to resign, and more prone to safety incidents in the workplace.
An occupational safety training program can help your business optimize employee engagement. Such a program demonstrates that you are investing in your staff and equipping them with the knowledge base necessary to perform their jobs safely.
Engaged employees will be more productive and less prone to workplace injuries. They will also exhibit better compliance with OSHA standards. Ultimately, having engaged employees will enable your business to insulate itself from fines that may arise from compliance shortcomings while also empowering you to improve profitability.
Who Leads Safety Training Initiatives?
According to OSHA standards, supervisory employees are the individuals responsible for providing workers with safe and healthful conditions. Specifically, supervisory employees must oversee:
- Training on OSHA standards
- Compliance training
- The creation of reporting procedures
- Hazard abatement processes
While the responsibility of creating and administering safety materials falls on supervisors across your organization, it is important to designate a single individual to lead safety training initiatives. This organizational leader should work with executives and supervisors in order to develop effective training courses that meet your industry’s needs.
If your team does not include anyone who is experienced in leading safety training, you should consider consulting with subject matter experts or SMEs. A team of SMEs can assist you with the development of training courses, help you identify the best way to administer materials to your employees, and provide insights on relevant OSHA standards that you must comply with.
Who Else Is Involved?
The simplest answer is “everyone.” The best safety and health programs mobilize the entire organization. These programs involve top-end supervisors, line-level staff members, and everyone in between.
While safety training and compliance involve everyone, your mid-level managers and training staff will have the biggest impact on the efficacy of your program. Training staff members are responsible for administering materials and overseeing courses. A skilled training staff will be able to deliver safety messaging in a digestible, informative way that keeps employees engaged.
Mid-level managers are responsible for ensuring that their entire team attends safety training courses by the set deadlines. Additionally, management personnel must monitor the behavior of employees in order to ensure that their team is compliant with relevant policies and OSHA standards.
When developing your safety and compliance training program, ensure that everyone understands their role. Conveying the “why” will boost employee buy-in and encourage full participation in the program.
How to Use Safety Training to Build a Safety Culture in Your Company
Simply implementing a safety and health training program will not enable you to achieve the aforementioned business outcomes. Instead of just implementing a safety program, you should focus on forging a strong safety culture.
A workplace with a strong safety culture provides its staff with the necessary equipment, gets everyone involved in the safety training program, and proactively addresses concerning practices in order to prevent workplace incidents.
If you want to use safety training to build a safety culture within your company, focus on the following actions.
Maximizing employee participation will lay the foundation for a successful safety and health training program.
While there are many ways to encourage participation, you should start by relaying OSHA standards that apply to your industry. You should never assume that an employee knows the standards they are expected to adhere to just because they work in the industry.
When relaying OSHA standards and other compliance regulations that your business must follow, make sure to include information about how these rules keep employees and their co-workers safe.
Establishing a Reporting Process
Even the most attentive supervisors cannot catch every safety concern. That is why you must establish a safety concern reporting process that makes workers feel comfortable voicing any issues they observe. A reporting process might shed some light on risks or safety issues that your organizational leaders may have failed to address when originally creating the program.
Providing Easy Access to Training Materials
Training materials must be digestible and easy to access. If they are not, employees are less likely to use the training materials you have provided to them.
One great way to make materials and courses more accessible is to offer online training. Online courses enable employees to work at their own pace. They also allow employees to go back and review training materials when they need to brush up on a particular topic.
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program makes it illegal for businesses to retaliate against employees for raising concerns about workplace safety and health issues. Your business should educate its employees on this program and the protections it provides. Doing so will proactively prevent retaliation and encourage line-level staff to report any safety concerns they observe.
Empowering Your Staff
Providing classroom or online training is a great first step to developing a strong workplace safety culture. However, it is vital that you empower your staff to use the knowledge you provide them in your training courses.
You should work to empower your staff from day one. Highlight your commitment to safety training in the candidate screening process, during onboarding, and on a continuing basis thereafter. When your employees know that the company is serious about safety, they will be too.
Safety Training and Safety Equipment Go Hand in Hand
On its own, safety training can decrease the frequency of workplace accidents and pave the way for positive business outcomes.
However, you must provide your staff with appropriate safety equipment so they can leverage the knowledge they gain through online courses and other training opportunities. For instance, if you operate within the construction industry, your staff needs access to safety glasses, helmets, shoes or boots, and gloves.
Failing to provide your staff with access to the appropriate safety equipment can diminish the efficacy of your training programs. It can lead to a higher injury rate and increase the severity of otherwise minor injuries.
In addition to providing training and issuing equipment, you should also create policies governing the use of PPE. You cannot assume that employees will simply use PPE because it is in their best interests to do so.
According to a BLS study on PPE usage, only 1% of workers suffering face injuries were wearing appropriate PPE. Just one in four workers suffering from foot injuries were wearing boots or safety shoes.
The study does not reveal whether injured employees received safety training. Nor does it disclose if PPE policies were in place. However, providing training, PPE, and policies has the potential to increase compliance. It will also protect your business from liability should an employee suffer an injury after neglecting to wear the designated PPE.
What Kinds of Industries Benefit the Most from a Robust Safety Training Program?
Generally speaking, industries that experience the highest volume of injuries and illnesses would benefit the most from a robust safety training program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries that reported the highest number of injuries and illnesses in 2021 are as follows:
- Healthcare and social assistance (Over 600,000 cases)
- Retail trade (Over 400,000 cases)
- Manufacturing (Approximately 380,000 cases)
- Transportation and warehousing (Approximately 250,000 cases)
Since the healthcare sector has the highest volume of injuries and illnesses, it stands to reason that this industry would derive the most benefits from safety and health training.
How Do the People You Hire Affect the Outcome of a Safety Training Program?
The individuals you hire will have a profound impact on the efficacy of your safety training program and your ability to unlock positive business outcomes. Risky hires — such as those prone to stealing from employers, lying or embellishing injuries, or behaving aggressively toward coworkers — can diminish the safety culture of your business.
Conversely, individuals who exhibit positive behaviors such as integrity, honesty, and communication will contribute to your safety training program and help you create a safe and healthful workplace.
While antiquated screening processes make it difficult to differentiate risky hires from safe ones, modern testing solutions can provide unmatched insights into candidates. You can learn more about an individual’s values, habits, and behavioral characteristics by incorporating these solutions into your hiring process.
Hiring with a Safety Culture in Mind
If you want to start hiring with a safety culture in mind, the first step is to implement integrity testing. Integrity tests will reveal which candidates exhibit risky behaviors like lying, bullying, violence, or thievery.
In addition to refining your screening processes, you must also optimize your leader selection processes. The right tools will enable you to find and select leaders that will further your safety culture goals.
If you want to take your commitment to safety training even further, you should consider investing in pre-employment testing solutions. The right partner can provide a wide range of recruiting and assessment tools, including candidate scorecards, application tracking technologies, reference check software, and pre-employment tests.
Cumulatively, these resources will enable your leadership team to identify and hire candidates who will contribute to workplace safety at your business. These tools will also help you reduce the frequency of workers’ comp claims, decrease turnover, and protect business continuity.
The Ideal Safety Training Frequency and Cadence
The specific safety training frequency and cadence you implement will vary depending on the industry you operate within. However, a higher training frequency is generally better and more effective.
We suggest administering online training resources weekly. These online courses do not have to be long and drawn out. Instead, your online training courses can be kept brief and focused. Routine online courses should merely provide employees with a refresher on critical training topics.
In addition to weekly online training resources, you should also provide your employees with more involved training periodically throughout the year. These longer safety courses can be administered quarterly or bi-annually, depending on the needs of your business.
How to Develop a Winning Safety and Health Training Program with Workplace Safety Training Courses
Want to equip your team with the skills and knowledge they need to do their job safely and efficiently? Interested in creating a safety culture in your company through a combination of safety training and modern hiring practices? Need access to resources and technologies to streamline your safety training and hiring processes?
The partners you pick for your safety and health training programs matter. Effective tests and online training can help you prevent a poor safety culture from taking hold in your business by enabling you to avoid risky hires. With these tools, you can work at your own pace to identify candidates who will be a good fit for the safety culture you want to cultivate.