“When Should I Train Them?”

That's a question that's been asked many times on job sites and in training sessions. Owners, managers and supervisors that genuinely are involved with their employees’ health and safety are sensitive to this training need.

They've come to realize that a little bit of time upfront can save a lot of time—and possibly some pain and costs—down the road. But unfortunately, some organizations don’t make the initial training investment because "we don't have time" or "they're adults, they should know." Not only is this against federal law, it's the root cause of many injuries and fatalities.

If you’re reading this and wondering if you meet the minimum training requirements, start by asking yourself these questions: If you had a worker who consistently did poor quality work, would you talk to them? If so-and-so was late for work three days out of five, as a rule, would it be something you'd discuss? If the answers were yes, you along with most supervisors probably wouldn't hesitate to find out what's wrong or how you could help make an improvement. It's your job, it's what's expected. But I’ve seen supervisors put workers in trenches "to get the job done" without one iota of information on what to watch out for. In other words, quality and productivity are usually addressed without reservation, but the safety stuff often gets pushed to the back seat.

This failure goes back to safety culture, which has been mentioned many times before in this blog. A culture of safety means management is engaged in continually improving its safety operation. Some outfits get it and some don't. Now’s the time to start right by reviewing what OSHA expects of your industry.