OSHA’s “Right to Understand”: A Game Changer in Employee Safety Training

employee safety trainingOver the past 20 years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration operated around the primary principle that employees had the “right to know” about the hazardous chemicals they work with. Now, with the new revised Hazard Communication Standard OSHA is mandating that employees have the “right to understand”, and you, the employer have to provide this “understanding” by December 1, 2013.

Training for knowledge has been enough, until now. You presented employees with hazardous chemical training, tested them on their knowledge, and reported to OSHA. It satisfied the federal requirements and it appeared to be working, as there weren’t any tools available that gauged their understanding or that demonstrated their understanding for compliance reporting.

Now, employee safety training is just half the battle. You’re on the hook to prove that your hazardous chemical training is clearly understood by your employees, and you need to be able to prove this on a continuous basis.

But how? There’s a big gap between knowing and understanding: it’s one thing for employees to know about chemical hazards in the workplace, but to understand and act on them when time is critical is a totally different issue. Sadly, a traditional training approach – presenting information then testing for knowledge – only works for the short term before employees begin forgetting what they learned. Training must be enhanced to enable all employees to achieve true mastery over the long term. Progressive organizations have already begun shifting their training strategies to focus on employee understanding and are choosing robust eLearning platforms to support them.

A robust eLearning platform can give you and your organization the ability to easily provide safety training on a continuous basis, helping keep knowledge top-of-mind. It also provides ongoing testing, which helps the organization determine not only who doesn’t have the required level of understanding, and how to correct it. Training can be automatically personalized for each employee in which key training messages are reinforced. Once employees have reached a satisfactory level of knowledge, the platform delivers increasingly more complex scenario-based and hotspot questions. In these questions, employees will have to demonstrate true understanding by using their knowledge to make sound decisions in simulated situations that mimic real life workplace situations.

In addition to personalized learning, a key feature of any robust eLearning platform is a sophisticated analytics engine. This will give organizations the data needed for compliance reporting – not just training hours, but also clear results that demonstrate true understanding. It will also provide the organization with the ability to identify those individuals that are truly not understanding, so that they can intervene on an employee-by-employee basis.

Are you ready to shift your training to a higher level? The Hazard Communication Standard could be just the tip of the iceberg as OSHA realigns workplace safety standards and compliance reporting with global standards. It’s conceivable that in the near future all workplace safety standards will mandate the “right to understand”. You may find yourself re-tooling training for fire, security, emergency, slips, trips & falls; protective gear and more; and facing stiffer reporting to actually prove federal compliance.

With the clock ticking on this federal regulation, I encourage you to take action today by reviewing our safety ebook, which highlights 6 key elements of building a safety culture. By upping your training game, you can easily meet the new “right to understand” standards, while giving your employees the tools they need to protect themselves and your business both today, and in the future.


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