Every year, close to 1.4 million workers suffer a serious job-related injury or illness. Employers would do well to offer more workplace training and prevention programs to keep employees safe. Workplace accidents can be devastating for employees and their families, often resulting in medical bills and lost wages.
Occupational health and safety programs can help reduce both the number and severity of workplace accidents. These programs are beneficial in dangerous professions such as construction; roofing; transportation; manufacturing; logging; and oil, gas, and mining operations.
Elements of an Effective Workplace Safety Training Program
An effective workplace safety training program contains many elements.
Strategy and goals. Workplace safety and health program should be based on clear strategies and goals and a plan of action for each. Employers must define why each program was developed and their aim in requiring employees to undergo them. They should include measurable goals for each safety and health program, such as a 20 percent reduction in accidents related to the type of training. Employers should communicate goals and track progress according to predefined timelines.
Measurement and evaluation. A workplace safety plan must include methods of tracking and measuring progress. Tracking progress against goals also helps employers understand the effectiveness of their training programs. They can then make adjustments as needed or even add additional programs.
Threat assessment. Employers should determine what aspect of the job or operation could result in injury and accidents, then offer solutions. Training should be relatable to the actual jobs that employees are doing to be better understood and adopted.
Responsibilities. A training program should include an outline of the general responsibilities of every employee. Although all employees must know they are responsible for safety, outlining specific responsibilities helps them better understand expectations.
Accountability. No safety training is effective without including both employer and employee accountability for safety. Employers should demonstrate their commitment to a safe culture and clearly express how they will contribute to safety and improve when safety fails. They should also communicate how employees are expected to be accountable, such as making safety part of annual performance reviews.
Safety culture. Employers who want health and safety results need to cultivate this mindset among employees. Training programs should all tie back to organizational goals. Employees undergoing safety training should understand how they individually contribute to the larger safety culture.
Training programs should include information on how the employer intends to reinforce the training. These could include safety campaigns in the workplace, posters and other visual reminders, spot checks on safety procedures, regular safety protocol meetings and newsletters, and rewards for meeting training and safety goals.
Policies and procedures. Every workplace safety training program must include clear policies and procedures related to the training subject. These policies and procedures help formalize safety expectations and requirements, such as wearing protective equipment at all times. They also help employees understand their roles and accountabilities. Clear guidelines leave zero room for an employee’s personal interpretation.
Reporting protocols. Every safety training program should include instructions for reporting violations. Some workplaces allow employees to report infractions anonymously. All safety programs should also include straightforward instructions for how employees who are injured on the job should report it and what happens after reporting.
Training schedule and delivery. Employers should create a schedule of which employees need to undergo what trainings and at what frequency. Having safety orientations for new employees and following up training programs with refresher courses are both excellent ideas. Employers also need to make the training easily accessible to employees in every location and give employees the time off their regular jobs to take the training. They should also decide whether the training needs to be in person or if it can be delivered online.
On-the-job training. There is a workplace training method called microlearning. This type of training delivers bits of instruction without taking an employee off the floor. An example is training on how to lift heavy items while minimizing injury. A supervisor should choose employees to observe on a specific day and correct them as needed while they are on the job.
Workplace safety assessment. In addition to focusing the training on a specific job, equipment, or operations, a workplace safety program also needs to address the workplace itself. Are there leaking ceilings that cause mold? Are chemicals stored properly? Are machines inspected and kept in prime condition? Is there good ventilation? Is electrical wiring safe?
Emergency procedures. The general workplace safety plan should also include procedures for responding to an emergency: fire, flood, hazardous waste leakage, workplace violence, and other threatening situations. Many workplaces have safety captains or safety committees that are activated as needed. This approach also helps employees take ownership of safety.
First aid. Every workplace should have first aid available for the types of jobs being done. Selected employees should know how to access first aid equipment and use them safely, or not use them all. Employees must also have clear instructions for who should contact emergency help if it is needed. Chaotic situations need to have smooth and easily accomplished procedures.
What if I am Involved in a Workplace Accident?
Despite training and safety programs, workplace injuries and illnesses will happen. If you have been hurt or become ill on the job, you are most likely entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.
In Delaware, every employer is required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. This insurance helps employees who are hurt or fall ill on the job recover compensation for medical bills and lost wages, including permanent disability benefits. It also provides death benefits for beneficiaries of workers who are killed.
If you are injured in a workplace accident:
- Report the illness or injury to a supervisor or manager immediately. There are deadlines for reporting on-the-job incidents. The sooner you report, the sooner you can get Workers’ Compensation benefits.
- Seek immediate medical attention. If you believe an injury is not serious or have no immediate symptoms, seek medical care anyway. Some injuries or illnesses take time to present symptoms, including brain injuries and soft tissue wounds.
- File a Workers’ Compensation claim. The employer files this claim after you complete the necessary forms. The employer will file the official paperwork with the insurance company and the state’s Workers’ Compensation agency. If benefits are denied, you can appeal. Note that federal employees may have a different system for filing.
- Participate in the investigation. The insurer will investigate your case. Be truthful about what happened, but do not overshare information. Insurers are in the business of making money, and they do that by covering the least amount of damages they can.
- Hire a Workers’ Compensation lawyer. After reporting the accident to your employer, it can be beneficial to consult with a lawyer who focuses on Workers’ Compensation claims. The reason for this is to help ensure that your claim is not denied and that you get the highest amount of compensation for which you are entitled if your claim is approved. Appeals processes when a claim is denied are complex and have strict deadlines. A lawyer can help you navigate the requirements.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Help Injured Workers
Employees injured or killed on the job deserve the most compensation possible for their medical bills, lost wages, disabilities, or death. Workers’ Compensation insurance rarely provides enough to cover an employee’s total losses. Injured workers are encouraged to contact the Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We will fight to secure the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Dover, Newark, and Middletown.