12 Tools for a Safer Workplace

We all want a safer workplace, but we’re not always sure how to get there.

Fortunately, there are lots of good ideas and lots of places to find them. You can do worse than checking out OSHA, NIOSH, and MSHA, for example. There are professional safety organizations, such as the National Safety Council (NSC) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). There are plenty of good EHS journals, including EHS Today, Occupational Health & Safety, and Industrial Safety and Hygiene News.

And there are lots of good blogs that cover important occupational health and safety information as well. We would like to think that the Convergence Training blog is one of them, with our blend of safety news, tips, tools, free e-learning courses and checklists, and safety training information.

In this article, we’re going to consolidate a few topics we’ve written about in earlier posts, presenting twelve solid tools you can use to make your workplace safer. Of course, these aren’t the only tools out there, and we encourage you to check out those links above and/or dig into your own safety toolbox too. And please leave some ideas in the comments section below if you have time. (Note: This article began with 12 tools/tips, but we’ve been adding to it and we think we’re up to 14 now–enjoy the extra bonus tips).


Tools for a Safer Workplace

Using any or all of the tools and techniques listed below should help improve safety at your workplace.

Safety and Health Management Program

OSHA recommends companies develop a safety and health management program to manage all aspects of health and safety at the workplace. This includes building a safety culture, identifying hazards, controlling hazards, training, and more.

Click to read more about safety and health management programs (we’ve got a very comprehensive article), and/or read our ongoing series about safety and health management systems

Risk Management Program

A robust risk management program will help you identify, analyze, and assess safety risks at work. After the risks are assessed, taking into consideration their likeliness of occurring and the severity if they did occur, you can then prioritize them for risk control.

Click to read more about risk management, including key terms and ideas and methods.

Job Hazard Analysis

A job hazard analysis (JHA) is a great way to find the specific hazards associated with a particular job and then brainstorm methods to control them. The JHA should be one of the foundations of your safety program, and it’s a good opportunity to get employees involved in safety as well. Plus, they should find it meaningful, because it’s a chance to directly influence their own safety.

Click to read a full article about the JHA.

Click to download a free guide for performing the JHA.

Hierarchy of Controls

Once a hazard has been identified at the workplace, you can use the hierarchy of controls to consider different methods to control that hazard. The hierarchy of controls provides a formulaic method for considering potential controls: first elimination and/or substitution, then engineering controls, work practice controls, other administrative controls, and finally PPE. In some cases, you’ll find that more than one type of control is necessary (for example, you may use an engineering control and PPE).

Remember that PPE is always a last resort; always try to control hazards with the other control methods first.

Click to read more about the hierarchy of controls.

Click to watch or download a free e-learning course about the hierarchy of controls.

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ANSI Z490.1–the National Standard for Effective EHS Training

EHS training is not easy to pull together. There are many aspects and responsibilities, and it’s hard for one person (or department) to be on top of it all.

Having a formulaic method, and a guide that lists best practices, is a great way to up your EHS training game.

That’s where ANSI Z490.1, the national standard for effective EHS training, comes in. If you’re not familiar with ANSI Z490.1, you should definitely check it out.

Click to download our free Guide to Effective EHS Training, which is kind of like a companion piece/interpretive guide to ANSI Z490.1

Leading and Lagging Safety Indicators

You can track leading and lagging indicators of safety at your workplace.

A leading safety indicator is something that occurs before a safety incident might happen (or ideally prevents it from happening). Leading safety indicators include safety training and housekeeping.

A lagging safety indicator is something that happens after a safety incident happens. Lagging safety indicators include things like incident reports and workman’s comp claims.

Tracking your leading lagging safety indicators gives you a chance to fix existing safety problems and anticipate safety problems so you can correct them before they occur. In some cases, companies track lagging but not leading indicators, losing a potential opportunity to create a safer work place.

Click to read more about leading and lagging safety indicators, or click to read our more detailed article on leading EHS indicators.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for safety training management and administration. An LMS lets you import, create, assign, deliver, track, and report on training–safety training and other kinds of training.

Using an LMS will make your safety training more comprehensive and efficient. You’ll significantly increase your chances of making sure everyone’s received their necessary safety training. In particular, an LMS helps with workers on various shifts, workers with changing schedules, and workers in multiple sites.

Check out this quick overview video that explains what an LMS is.

A common misconception is that LMSs can only be used with e-learning courses. But that’s not true. You can use an LMS to assign and track many kinds of training, including instructor-led training, safety meetings, on-the-job training, written training materials, and more.

Click to read more about learning management systems (LMSs).

Click to read more about using an LMS to improve workplace safety.

Click to learn how to evaluate safety training LMSs.

Click to read 3 true stories of how three companies got an LMS and improved their safety culture.

Click to see some LMSs for companies of different sizes and industries.

Safety e-Learning Courses and a Blended Learning Safety Training Solution

e-Learning courses can be an important part of your safety training solution.

We recommend using e-learning courses as part of a blended learning solution that uses training of several different types–e-learning, instructor-led, employee-led, on-the-job training, shadowing/mentoring/following, task-based training, written materials, and more. Doing this allows you to maximize the effectiveness of your training.

Click to read more about e-learning courses and safety training.

Click to read more about blended learning and safety training.

Click to see a selection of EHS e-learning courses.

Click to learn about having custom e-learning courses made for your worksite or industry.

Click to learn how to evaluate different online safety training courses

e-Learning Authoring Tools

You can buy EHS e-learning courses off the shelf or have them made for you, but you can also make your own.

An e-learning authoring tool is a software application that makes it pretty easy to make your own e-learning courses. You can then include your own policies and/or videos and photos of your own site and even add your own audio narration and self-created testes.

Many of these e-learning authoring tools are designed so you can start with an existing PowerPoint, making it easy to gear up quickly using existing safety training materials you already have.

Click to read an article (and see pictures) that walks you step-by-step through the basic process of beginning with a PowerPoint and creating your own e-learning course (on crane hand signals, in this case).

Click to watch and listen to the same information in a recorded webinar.

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Peer Networking with Other Safety/EHS Professionals

One of the best “tools” you can use is to learn from your professionals EHS/Safety peers. You can do this by joining professional organizations, such as the National Safety Council, American Society of Safety Engineers, or the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.

And you can also do this online, such as in safety and EHS groups on LinkedIn. We recently asked safety managers in a LinkedIn EHS group for their tips on effective safety training. Read their replies below.

Click to read real-world safety managers explaining how to make safety training more effective and engaging.

Click to learn about the National Safety Council (NSC).

Click to learn about the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

Click to learn about the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).

Click to find Convergence Training on LinkedIn or to follow Jeff Dalto on LinkedIn.

Lean Manufacturing Principles, Including 5S

Many people hear the words “lean manufacturing” and think exclusively of production and efficiency. Of course, lean manufacturing is about that, but lean can also significantly improve safety at your workplace. Having a more efficient, waste-free, organized workplace with standardized work processes inevitably leads to fewer safety incidents.

This point is obvious when it comes to the well-known lean 5S technique, but it’s also true for kaizen, kaizen events, and more.

If you haven’t given much thought to the intersections between lean and safety, now’s a good time to do so.

Click to read about 5s/6s-safety.

Click to read about using lean techniques for a safer workplace.

You may also find the sample of this 5S e-learning course interesting.

(Click to learn more about that 5S e-learning course.)

Instructional Design

Safety professionals are often involved in safety and/or EHS training efforts. But, they may not have had the opportunity to fully study instructional design (ID), the professional field dedicated to effective training methods.

It’s great to be a training expert, and there are lots of them you can refer to for help. But even if you’re not an expert yourself, learning some of the basics will really improve your safety training.

Consider following a blog or two or joining an organization that addresses some of these ID issues.

Click to read about adult learning principles.

Click to read why visuals can improve safety training.

Click to see 25 graphic design techniques you can apply to safety training materials.

Click to learn about learning objectives (and get a free guide to writing them).

Click to learn about the Association for Talent Development (ATD), a professional learning organization.

Employees

Employees often know more about work processes, workplace hazards, and safety than anyone, including safety management.

It’s a cliche, but don’t forget it. Remember to include your employees in the safety program and you’ll see a better safety culture as a result.

Humor

Finally, a little reminder–humor can be an effective aid during safety training and on the job as well.

For example, appreciate the use of humor on Delta Airlines’ pre-flight safety video.

Along those lines, we offer the following collection of humorous safety-related posts. We hope you enjoy them and maybe even forward a few on to safety peers via email.

Zombie Safety Training (great for Halloween)

Safety Training for Thanksgiving

Sharknado Safety Training

Safety Training for the Mayan Apocalypse

Safety Training for the Final Episode of Breaking Bad

March Madness Safety Training

Valentine’s Day Safety Poem

Safety Training for Santa and Friends

What about you? Have any good safety humor for us? You can share it below in the comments section (keep it clean and SFW, though…but you knew that, right?)

Conclusion: What Tools Do You Use for a Safer Workplace?

You may already know of or be using everything we listed above. Or maybe not. If the article gave you an idea or two, that’s great.

Of course, you’ve probably got some tips to add as well. What do you find helps make a safer workplace? Let us know in the discussion section below.

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Effective EHS Training: A Step-by-Step Guide

Learn how to design, create, deliver, and evaluate effective EHS training by following these best practices with our free step-by-step guide.

Download Free Guide

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Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. Jeff has worked in education/training for more than twenty years and in safety training for more than ten. You can follow Jeff at LinkedIn as well.

10 thoughts on “12 Tools for a Safer Workplace

  1. Great post, the U.S. Army has been using a very similar Risk Managment System. Every company should adopt the program. Safety saves lives and money! In my experience a successful safety program depends on training, inforcment and backed up by written policy.

    1. Mark, thanks for adding the comment.

      What would production levels tell you? Are there specific safety-related aspects to a lower production level?

      I’m guessing you’d see production levels are lower, rule out things like the possibility that levels have been intentionally lowered, and then you’d know that perhaps there’s a problem with a machine, and that the problem with the machine may create a safety hazard. Is that it?

      By the way, since you’re talking about production, have you seen the blog from our sister company dataPARC?
      http://blog.dataparcsolutions.com/

  2. Create an environment of awareness of possible risks on all levels of employees. This way you get feedback on risks that may be hidden or are not so obvious

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