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Saving Our Most Valuable Asset with Safety Training

Saving Our Most Valuable Asset with Safety Training

by James Morris, Technical Assistance Provider, West Virginia

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, for every 100 employees in the water, sewage, and other systems industry, 5.4 employees were injured in 2022. Of those injured, 2.8 out of every 100 employees were injured severely enough to cause them to miss work or require a job transfer or restricted job duties. There is a clear need for employees to know the potential hazards they may be exposed to and how to protect themselves.

Water and wastewater treatment employees face various risks and hazards daily, and addressing these risks is vital to ensure the well-being of both employees and the communities they serve. Safety training is the attempt to inform employees of how to prevent and respond to work-related illness and injury. Safety training can take on several different appearances—from on-the-job safety equipment training, classroom seminars, online training, and videos. Good safety training will inform employees of potential danger on the job and will teach and encourage safe work habits.

Safety training should be designed to fit the needs of the target audience. Rather than have a standard form of safety training, start with a few fundamentals, and then deal with the risks specific to the particular employee. With this in mind, training can include some of the following:

  • Proper use of equipment: Train employees on the correct use of any equipment they will be using. Follow that up with a quick observation of the employee using the equipment himself to ensure comprehension.
  • Appropriate storage and equipment and materials: The third leading cause of injury is bodily reactions such as slipping and tripping. A large percentage of these accidents can be avoided by simply keeping walkways clear and work areas clean.
  • Handling of hazardous material: Employees should be trained in how to be confident and careful with such material.
  • Reporting procedures: When employees notice an unsafe area or situation on the job, it is important that they know how to report it and have it corrected.
  • Responding to injuries on the job: It is inevitable that some injuries will happen on the job. How should employees respond when they or someone else is injured on the job? To whom should they report the injury? If employees need basic first aid skills, include a first aid class as part of the training.
  • Working alone: It may not always be possible to send people out in pairs, depending on staffing numbers and the needs of various jobs. This is where Lone Worker Safety Programs provide individuals with the support needed to complete jobs safely. It can be as simple as implementing a check-in schedule to encourage communication between employees and/or supervisors.

There is no end to the possible topics of safety training. One common practice is to record injuries that have occurred at your workplace in the past year or two and tailor safety training to address those specific issues.

Not only do you need to record injuries, but you also need to record all training that has been conducted during the year. Review your safety training program annually to gauge your current safety practices, to assess their effectiveness and to identify any other risks that they have yet to address.

Safety is a #1 priority, and maintaining a Zero Accident record should be everyone’s goal.