Get By With A Little Help From A Friend: Safety Professionals & Trainers

[tweetmeme]Recently I had the great pleaure of getting to know more and more experienced safety professionals and trainers using LinkedIn Groups.    Some of the more interesting subjects within our industry are being discussed right now by a wide range of professionals whose insight and knowledge has helped me immensely in my career.   I have listed below a couple of the more interesting blog posts that I have discovered using LinkedIn.   

The Most Overlooked Paragraph in the OSHA Standards

Several months ago I was reading posts made by members in one of the many social networking groups I belong to that are dedicated to occupational health and safety matters. The original discussion question inquired about the regulations that should be applied to workers who were not wearing fall protection harnesses while spreading metal decking…(read more).

Don’t Overlook OSHA’s “Unscheduled” Refresher Training Requirements

When I conduct mock-OSHA inspections for companies, we spend a lot of time focusing on their employee safety training efforts. What we typically find is that most employers provide a new employee safety orientation to get the newbies up to speed on the mandatory OSHA topics…(read more).

Beware – Where Behavior Based Safety Programs and OSHA Standards Collide

Occasionally a company that has implemented an OSHA compliance program asks me for recommendations to help them “go to the next level” and “exceed OSHA compliance”. Often times I recommend they look into implementing a behavior based safety (BBS) program to compliment what they have in place. Many of you in the safety profession already know what a behavior based safety program is…(read more)

OSHA Awards $8 million in Susan Harwood Capacity Building Grants to 45 organizations

[tweetmeme]The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today awarded $8 million in Susan Harwood Capacity Building Grants to 45 organizations, including nonprofit and community/faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, and colleges and universities. The grants will assist these organizations in providing safety and health training, and educational programs for workers and employers.

“Ensuring that workers and employers have the information they need is critical to safe and healthy workplaces,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “These grants will help provide training and education aimed at identifying hazards, understanding rights and responsibilities, protecting health and saving lives.”

The Susan Harwood Capacity Building Grants support training programs that educate workers and employers in industries with high injury and fatality rates; low literacy, young, limited English proficiency and otherwise vulnerable workers; and small business employers. They fund long-term programs that build safety and health competency within organizations.

OSHA awarded approximately $6.7 million to 30 organizations already providing occupational safety and health training, education and related assistance to their constituents, and that are seeking to expand and develop their capacity. Another $1.3 million in smaller pilot grants was awarded to 15 organizations that seek to lay the groundwork for a robust safety and health education program. The agency received a total of 166 applications for the capacity building grants.

“The programs funded by these grants will have a long-lasting, positive impact on workers and employers alike,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “OSHA also has significantly reached out to non-English speaking, and historically hard to reach, vulnerable workers by awarding grants to organizations committed to serving those groups.”

OSHA Limits Outreach Training to 7 1/2 Hours per Day. 10-Hr Class now will take 2 Days!

  [tweetmeme]The following  is copy from an August 6, 2010 memo issued from  Henry E. Payne, Director Training and Education,  Directorate of Training and Education, OSHA

 We are revising the OSHA Outreach Training Program to require authorized Outreach Trainers to limit their training to a maximum of conducted over a minimum of two days and 30-hour courses over a minimum of four days. This is another element in our effort to improve the quality and integrity of the Outreach Training Program.  We believe this key change will result in improved worker training.  Training that does not meet these requirements will not be recognized and trainers will not receive student completion cards.

Outreach Trainers will be allowed to seek approval of courses that cover more than trainer availability, time limits or missing work as extenuating circumstances. We will consider functions such as one-day events that are co-hosted by OSHA and which target a hard-to-reach worker group as an example of a training plan which may be approved. All requests for such approvals must be made in writing and sent the Directorate of Training and Education at least eight weeks prior to the start of the class.

The new policy is outlined in the attached flyer. Please ensure that all OSHA personnel conducting Outreach Training Program courses or assisting in this training are aware of this new requirement.  All Outreach Trainers will be informed that this policy is effective immediately, however we will extend a grace period to trainers for full implementation until December 31,2010. This requirement will be incorporated into the next revision ofthe Outreach Training Program Guidelines scheduled for October 2010.

 If you have any questions regarding the Outreach Training Program or the implementation of this requirement, please contact Don Guerra at the Directorate of Training and Education at (847) 759-7735.

OCCU-TEC brings e-learning into the 21st Century

[tweetmeme]If you were an employee of a large corporation in the 90’s, e-learning essentially meant opening a PowerPoint presentation and scanning through pages and pages of fairly dry material. This was often referred to as CBT (Computer Based Training), and employees could answer questions by ticking a box to indicate they had absorbed the text.  But it didn’t signify that they necessarily understood it!

In order to ensure that employees received training that they actually understood; companies had little choice but to gather up the employees and pay an instructor to come their site to conduct training or send their personnel to a remote location in order to provide them with essential training.  This not only cost a lot of money, but wastes valuable company time.  Today with modern learning management systems (LMS) offering fully functional e-learning systems that are highly cost effective, learners need only log into the LMS using a web browser, select courses and launch them.

Learning Management Systems

Learn more about OCCU-TEC's e-learning solutions; click here

And the timing couldn’t be better; more than 14% of the American workforce is working remotely or virtually – outside the traditional office – according to an article by Douglas Gantenbein, featured on  In fact, a recent survey by OfficeTeam indicates that 69% of polled executives said it was common for their companies’ employees to work off-site.  What is perhaps more telling is that 82% of these managers said they expect the number of employees who work remotely to increase in the next five years.  

With ever-increasing technology and communication tools, and the rising costs of travel, working remotely is becoming a fast-growing trend in companies around the world.  With more employees geographically dispersed and working from home, we need to ensure that our organizations are providing quality training and development for organizational growth in today’s non-traditional work environment.

Here are three elements OCCU-TEC uses for providing a high-quality and engaging distance learning experience.

e-Learning is a rather broad, umbrella term encompassing many different virtual learning experiences. With the right content, e-learning can be a highly engaging and enriching experience for learners. e-Learning is certainly a natural fit for the self-paced, self-motivated remote employee.  With e-learning, discussion threads and chat groups assist facilitators and managers with maintaining the team element that often evades e-learning activities.  With e-learning management software, remote employees can easily access their training curriculums, and it can be easily managed by managers and administrators – no matter where they’re located.

Streaming Video
Streaming video allows remote employees to access entertaining, engaging course content via the Internet.  This type of content used to only be available in either an instructor-led classroom setting, or with timely delays and costs due to shipping and the administrative tracking of videos sent to multiple office locations.  With streaming video, remote employees can immediately access training and development videos – and employees dispersed geographically can have the exact same learning experience.  This is great for dispersed work teams!

Virtual Classroom
With virtual classrooms, the moderator or facilitator and learners are geographically dispersed, and come together virtually, or online, to participate in learning activities.  There are a number of course management and multimedia web-based applications available in which you can deploy, manage and report on your training and development activities … virtually!  We’ve recently integrated Adobe Connect Pro with our virtual learning systems to create an outlet for our clients’ training needs.  

Most virtual classroom experiences utilize word-processing documents, such as PowerPoint templates, so that learners logging in to the course can follow the learning and talking points with a visual guide.  Our virtual interfaces also allow learners the ability to download classroom materials and interact with the class via web-conferencing.  What’s great about the virtual classroom is its interactivity.  It mimics the traditional classroom experience, with immediate instructor feedback.

Contact me at to learn more.

Supervisors Are The Key to Successful Safety Meetings


Onsite Safety

Frontline supervisors involvement are the key to workplace safety!

[tweetmeme]Safety meetings provide opportunities to focus on specific hazards, operations, and attitudes. They allow supervisors and safety professionals to select topics and formats geared to the needs of a particular group. 
Safety meetings can be formal, preannounced group presentations using videos, expert speakers, and other planned aids. Or they can be brief, informal one-on-one or small group discussions and demonstrations designed to deal with problems or knowledge gaps that supervisors identify on the job.
Because supervisors are on the floor, observing and directing operations, they are best able to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their operations and their workers.  This knowledge, coupled with their own experience and responsibility for their units, makes supervisors the best choice to determine when and why safety meetings are needed. 

If you need more help getting the most out of your safety meetings, contact me.  




I have a Dream about eLearning

[tweetmeme]“I have been having these two parallel dreams about eLearning. One is rosy and rich with possibilities. The other isn’t quite a nightmare, but it has people running down corridors and bumping into walls.” Allison Rossett wrote that in 2002 in The ASTD E-Learning Handbook.

eLearning has been growing in popularity over the past few years, in large part due to the advancements in technology.  Many of us no doubt, remember the computer-based training programs of the 1990’s and early 2000’s that were nothing more than glorified power point presentations (without Presenter).  With the inundation of technology in our world, today’s workplace learner needs more stimulation than ever before in order to truly engage in the program.  Engaged learners will seek online lessons and references—and now, in this Web 2.0 world, they also contribute generously with user provided content, making choices to both consume and create .   eLearning  has stepped up to the challenge, but it can only achieve its potential when used repeatedly over time and place by engaged learners.   The following are some key points that Rossett says to remember:

  • eLearning must be perceived as useful by participants
  • If value of the eLearning is not obvious, a compelling case must be made
  • eLearning must provide opportunities for success, not failure or uncertainty 
  • eLearning courses match the audience in topic and level 
  • eLearning must be active and thought-provoking 
  • Guide and track participants through a Learning Management System (LMS)

Although these statistics are getting dated, they still give valuable insight into where the eLearning has been and is going.  Approximately 75% of technology-based learning was online in 2004, and about 75% of online learning was self-paced.”   eLearning is here to stay!  

ASTD’s Learning Circuits attempted to find out what’s on people’s minds regarding eLearning in 2008.   The last question in their study (ASTD 2008) was, “What concerns does your organization have about using eLearning?” The number one answer by far on the list was “employee buy-in.”  The use of eLearning by employees has not been automatic.

When people do take advantage of eLearning, they don’t always do so consistently.   One employee can take this opportunity and exercise it with the same strong work ethic it takes to succeed in other areas of the job.   While another can take their access to eLearning and squander it, grumbling about preferring to go to the training class for what amounts to a few days off from the grind.

Every organization will have its challenges implementing  eLearning, but even more likely, many will abandoned eLearning prematurely due to failures in execution and alignment within the organization.  Rossett points to two aspects to successful engagement of eLearning with an organization: 1) great systems and assets; and 2) organizational readiness for what is a substantial change.

You can learn more about eLearning by visiting or contacting me directly.

Permit Required Confined Space Training

[tweetmeme]A small sampling of the safety training I performed today. If you’d like to know more about my training offerings contact me.

Training is a Key Element for Forklift Safety

[tweetmeme]Each year, it is estimated that more than 37,000 forklift-related injuries occur in U.S. industry.  Injuries involve employees being struck by lift trucks or falling while standing or working from elevated pallets and tines.   Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks or when the lift falls between a dock and an unchocked trailer.   For each employee injured, there are probably numerous incidents that are unnoticed or unreported to supervision.   All mishaps, no matter how small, are costly.   Most incidents also involve property damage.   Damage to overhead sprinklers, racking, pipes, walls, machinery, and various other equipment occur all too often.  In fact, millions of dollars are lost in damaged equipment, destroyed products, or missed shipments.

OSHA states that only properly trained and authorized personnel are to be allowed to operate Powered Industrial Trucks.  Training for forklift operators is to be completed initially before they are allowed to operate a forklift.  Employers are responsible for selecting and providing the proper training  to operators, inspectors, and maintenance personnel.   It is important that these individuals have the necessary training and are able and willing to perform their jobs properly.  All training needs  to be documented.

A key dimension of operator training is driver certification.  Operators are required to demonstrate their skills through training and adequate completion of skills tests which demonstrates that the operator can safely operator the equipment.  The operator needs to:

  1. know and understand the unit’s functional features,
  2. Be familiar with overall safety rules,
  3. Can identify specific safety factors at a dock and battery recharge station, and
  4. Must demonstrate overall driving skills.

 An evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator’s performance must be conducted:

  •  After initial training,
  • After refresher training, and
  • At least once every three years

OSHA Required Training Can Help Improve Productivity

[tweetmeme]From the time we were born, we have learned (and relearned) that life is full of “choices”.   For many of us, the real learning came from the “consequences” that resulted when we made a poor choice.   It is a life – long learning process that continues to help us adjust and survive in a society that has rules, regulations and … consequences.

If you were to reference the 29 Code of Federal Regulations (29CFR) pertaining to OSHA rules, you would find that the training requirements are at times complex and convoluted.   There are over 200 training citations that include not only the general areas of OSHA regulations but also those covering more specific areas such as construction, marine terminals and longshoring.   OSHA training requirements stipulate that training is to be accomplished to “an appropriate level”.   However most often this level is not specifically defined.

As adults, ongoing training is critical to peak job performance, safety, and compliance; yet too often someone chooses to give it a low priority because of budget constraints, lack of time or clear regulatory guidance.   Only after a regulator issues a notice of violation or an accident occurs is it apparent that there is a training deficiency.   Usually by then “reactive leadership” or “crisis management” has taken over, usually to the detriment of the company and the people within that organization.

A proactive approach would be to first recognize that your company needs a comprehensive environmental and safety training plan that includes clear regulatory guidelines and goals for compliance.   It should include an ongoing timeline for implementation and maintenance as well as a budget that demonstrates a long-term commitment.

The kind of individual behavioral change required to ensure compliance does not come from a one time OSHA overview or occasional class that gets scheduled in response to some unfortunate mishap.   Behavioral change requires commitment that comes from a strong initial foundation of OSHA training that can be built upon and reinforced by annual refreshers and specific in-depth courses.   OCCU-TEC, Inc. a safety consulting and training firm in Kansas City, Missouri (which I work for)  calls this strategy “ A CLASS ACT”.  “Continuous Learning Assures Safety Success through Annual Career Training.”

Company benefits derived from this proactive strategy include:

  • Develops a common language and transferable skills amongst staff.
  • Methodically builds a network of individuals committed to Safety and Environmental Compliance.
  • Builds self-esteem, skill – base, and commitment among staff.
  • Positions the sponsoring company as a proactive provider of Safety Training
  • Creates positive image of company to employees and community
  • Cost effective in that it integrates with corporate strategy for Safety and Environmental Compliance

Employee productivity is one most important determining factors in your company’s profitability.  Invest in it!  Safety training ensures that your employees will remain on the job and safe while produces the highest quality results.  Lost time due to accidents end up coming straight off the bottom line, causing a need for additional top line revenue to make up for the loss.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Contact me at OCCU-TEC for more information.

Create a Successful Training Program

[tweetmeme]Legally mandated training requirements can range from simple steps for good housekeeping to complex procedures for how and when to wear a respirator or handling and disposing of hazardous wastes.   As an employer your goal should be to make sure your training program keeps your company in compliance and protects employees and the environment.   But let’s face it, training is expensive and keeping a full time trainer on staff may not be the wisest way to invest your resources.   Instead consider outsourcing to industry experts.

Qualified and successful trainers can be hard to find; after all anyone can go online, pay subscription fee and download tons of Powerpoint presentations, videos, etc and call themselves a trainer.   But, as author Harold Stolovitch famously titled his book: Telling Ain’t Training, all too often, the telling part gets passed off as training, and then everyone sits back and wonders why their training program is failing.  

Successful trainers use a “discussion” mode to cover materials, keeping in mind the needs of the adult learner.   They utilize course creating techniques, and learn from previously successful training approaches and evaluation.   Trainers must keep the interest of the student through interaction such as exercises, questions and tests.   Simply reciting verbiage on a Powerpoint slide is a sure fire way to put people to sleep fast!

Some of the best industry professionals out there can’t train!   I am reminded of the beginning of a Seinfeld episode, where Jerry would introduce the show through a brief standup bit.   He was talking about fears people have.   Jerry related that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death.   Think about that, he says, at a funeral you’d rather be in the coffin, instead delivering the eulogy.   This is why most of the best and brightest people in industry are terrible trainers.   They simply are afraid to speak in front of a crowd, they are terrible at it.   So they go into bunker mode, and begin to read slides! YAWN!! I am tired already.

To have a successful training program you need to find a trainer that has a game plan going into the class.   Check references, ask for a sample of the course material.   If he/she performs public training, go to one of their classes and observe them in action.   But whatever you do, don’t subject your employees to bad trainers, and then scratch your head as to why your training program is failing.   You know why!    Fix it!!

There are a variety of reasons why you might decide to outsource your training:

1. You have complex regulations to comply with, such as those governing safety or environmental issues.

2. You have legal requirements to meet, such as those governing equal opportunity, harassment, and discrimination.

3. You have a small staff and don’t have enough (or any) qualified trainers.

4. You have large numbers of employees who need refresher training.

5. You want to keep employees up to date on what’s happening in your industry.