The manufacturing industry contributes significantly to the United States (U.S.) economy as it creates jobs, drives innovation, and helps to raise living standards. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, it has the highest multiplier effect in the nation: for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $2.79 is added to the economy. But manufacturing is also an extraordinarily diverse and complex industry. From transportation, textiles, and electronics, to pharmaceuticals, food, and beverages, the U.S. manufacturing industry includes more than 20 different sub-sectors.
One of the most critical aspects of a manufacturing business is employee safety. Workplace injuries and illness have the potential to create extraordinary expenses and disrupt production. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) 2019 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the manufacturing industry ranked as the third-highest in the nation for injuries and illnesses, with a reported 395,300 workplace injuries and 35,000 workplace illnesses.
Workplace safety is also one of the biggest challenges manufacturing companies face, which is why proper training is a top priority. Providing effective safety training is key to helping reduce workforce injury and illness rates, and having an efficient and effective training program in place is crucial to ensuring the long-term safety of employees.
Here are five essential best practices for developing an effective training program that reduces workplace injuries and illnesses in the manufacturing industry:
#1. Know the requirements
The first step in implementing a safety training program is to understand the various regulations that apply to the workplace. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, all employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace, and companies that fail to abide by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules are subject to various fines and penalties. State and local governments also have workplace health and safety requirements that employers must comply with anywhere the company has employees.
#2. Take advantage of free online resources
Fortunately, there are many free resources available to employers looking for guidance. The OSHA website has a dedicated training section that includes publications, videos, and web-based interactive training at no cost, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers is a national network of non-profit organizations that offer a wide range of safety training programs. Another resource, the OSHA Alliance Program, is a cooperative network of organizations that provide safety information and resources for specific industries or hazards.
#3. Make it relevant and easy to understand
For a training program to be effective, it needs to not only provide the required information but should also be relevant and easily understood by employees of all educational backgrounds. Making training materials interactive can help keep employees engaged, and providing context around the training can facilitate comprehension.
In fact, companies that tailor their training materials to include site-specific information such as photos and videos say their employees are 30% more likely to understand the training and 124% more likely to be able to demonstrate safe behaviors while performing their job.
Related: 3 Reasons You Need to Integrate Your Learning Management System with HR.
#4. Utilize on-the-job (OJT) training
Even the most rigorous safety training programs can fail if they’re not reinforced on the job. Inaccurate information or procedural shortcuts can be passed along from worker to worker, resulting in costly mistakes. Adding a structured on-the-job training (OJT) element to a safety training program can effectively ensure employees understand the information and gain the skills to replicate the training successfully.
Companies that have implemented on-the-job training programs have seen positive results. 92% of the workers who participated in the Boeing Manufacturing On-the-Job Training Program said they were “good or better” at their job, and 40% considered themselves “great” after completing the training.
#5. Use your HCM to your advantage
An HCM that integrates with a learning management system (LMS) streamlines the training process and makes it easy for employers to schedule and deliver training efficiently. Organizations can then connect Human Resources (HR) records and training data to monitor progress and track completions.
Built-in features such as coaching tools help reinforce training, and continuous performance evaluations provide the ability to give workers ongoing feedback. Plus, a Human Capital Management (HCM) software with real-time reporting capabilities makes it possible to quickly generate the documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance.
Related: The Best and Most Popular SyncHR and HCM Resources.
Workplace safety is the foundation of success and productivity in the manufacturing industry. Companies can benefit from taking advantage of the resources available to help them develop an effective training program. By utilizing HCM technology to deliver training that is relevant and engaging to their workforce, they can minimize the incidence of workplace injury, maximize productivity, and increase profitability.
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