Compliance Not Enough to Practice Safety; Continuous Training is Key
October 25, 2011

By Sahely Mukerji,

When it comes to safety, compliance can only get you so far, says Phil Delise, vice president of Massey’s Plate Glass & Aluminum Inc. in Branford, Conn. “Compliance is the foundation to any effective health and safety program, because it sets expectations and provides a uniform reference for all levels of the business, workers to upper management,” he says. “OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] requires job hazard assessment, but does not require the workers to listen, be attentive, interactive, etc., when the identified hazards are communicated to the workers on-site. OSHA does not address the human element of safety for which every company must address this issue to reduce and prevent injuries.”

OSHA released its 13th edition of the OSHA Training Guide last month.

Theresa Jones, CEO of Blue Gavel Press, a national information provider for the business community, agrees with Delise. While the OSHA Training Guide provides a basic foundation for safety training, Jones says, the materials must be modified to meet the particular needs of each workplace. "There is no such thing as a typical employer," she says. "Every workplace is unique, as are the training needs of its workers."

Mike Burke, product sales specialist with Edgetech I.G. Inc. in Cambridge, Ohio, offers a similar view. “The glass industry is an example of a very unique workplace,” he says. “Our industry faces safety concerns that are very specific to handling glass. We constantly look for methods to raise the safety awareness of our associates. Training programs which increase that awareness will always be of value.”

Common place on job sites is to take risks rather than to work safe because it saves time, effort, and can be more comfortable, according to Delise. “We must break this mentality through constant training,” he says.

“Some people say that we must practice common sense on job sites, but what if common sense is to take risks and be unsafe?” Delise asks. “Upper management, project managers and foreman need guides like this to deliver relevant and accurate information, but they must also take into consideration the human element when delivering the facts. Trainers must understand how adults learn and retain information and how to maximize their core values, which in almost all cases is self preservation/safety.”

Many employers will buy guides like this and think it’s the end-all to preventing injuries, Delise says. “Once the guide book is put back on the shelf and the trainers efforts fade, the workers suffer not just from lack of communication, but the precedent, which is once again set regarding safety,” he says. “I am a strong believer in compliance, but it can only take you so far and set the stage for a safety program. Interacting with workers through continuous training [that] focuses on why working safe is so important to them can lead to a much stronger safety program going forward. Communication is the key.”

This story is an original story by USGlass magazine/USGNN™. Subscribe to USGlass magazine.
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