OSHA safety training is one of the most important steps you can take toward becoming a safer and smarter worker. But until you apply it on your job sites, training is only theory. When the rubber meets the road, you still have to be able to apply everything you’ve learned.
The OSHA training requirements for each job are different, based on the specific hazards inherent to each job function. However, they all have something in common: From wearing high visibility clothing correctly to cleaning machinery safely, OSHA training must be applied consistently by the people performing the job tasks. Are you ready to take ownership of practical, everyday safety at your job site? Read on for five ways that you can apply OSHA training during your job site duties.
- Know the OSHA rules for your job.
Compliance always begins with knowing the rules. That’s why you should review the OSHA rules and what you’ve learned in your training before heading back to the job site. Thorough knowledge of the rules will help you navigate tricky situations and be a better advocate on the job site. Areas in which you might need to apply the OSHA rules at a job site include:
- Maintaining and navigating emergency routes
- Handling hazardous materials
- General emergency planning
- Personal protective equipment (including high visibility clothing)
- Management of electrical hazards
- Welding, cutting, and brazing
- Powered platform and manlift use
- Handling pressurized vessels
- Fire protection
Remember that these are just the tip of the iceberg—many other industrial job functions demand strict compliance with OSHA standards. Carefully research the relevant standards and highlight areas that are particularly applicable to the functions you typically perform.
One way to ensure that the rules are easily available is to keep copies of relevant OSHA regulations on-site. If your management doesn’t provide them, ask them to and remind them that they may be required to by law (particularly if your job involves working with hazardous materials).
- Become a safety leader at your job site.
Job site safety requires strong and active leadership at all levels. No matter where you fall on the management ladder, there’s room for safety advocates who know the rules and are enthusiastic about building a safety culture.
Advocating for safety doesn’t mean being abrasive or rude. In fact, you’ll usually get farther by being nice. Remind your coworkers you want everybody to be able to go home at the end of the day, and that one person failing to observe safety rules often makes the job site less safe for everyone.
If safety problems persist at your job site, it’s time to have a discussion with your management. For strength in numbers, try to find coworkers who are also concerned about safety issues and come to management together with them. Working as a group will help demonstrate to your management that the problem is affecting employees at a site level and encourage them to take the issue seriously.
- Become an OSHA outreach trainer.
Ready to take your safety advocacy to the next level? Look into applying for a job as an OSHA outreach trainer. You’ll gain the skills you need to conduct OSHA training classes and reach other workers at a peer level.
OSHA offers both 10-hour and 30-hour outreach training classes, with the first directed at the entry-level worker and the latter directed to more experienced workers and supervisors. Training is available either in a classroom or online and will be directed in one of four areas: Construction, General Industry, Maritime, and Disaster Sites. Each area includes numerous specialty classes that cover everything from bloodborne pathogen hazards to lockout/tagout procedures.
Note that these courses don’t satisfy OSHA requirements for training in specific hazard procedures; rather, they provide a general overview of hazard mitigation that’s useful for both experienced and new employees. Remember that authorized trainers’ licenses are good for four years, after which you’ll need to take an update course.
- Apply your first aid skills when they count the most.
OSHA training includes first aid, CPR, and/or other medical skills that can be critical in an emergency, in many cases. If you’re comfortable performing these techniques, be confident about applying them when you see a need. You might be able to make the difference that saves a coworker’s life.
Make sure to pay attention if your OSHA training course includes practical demonstrations, as skills like CPR need to be practiced in order to be used safely and effectively. If it’s been several years since you practiced these skills, consider taking another course to brush up on your technique.
- Refuse to work for employers who won’t follow the rules.
Your OSHA training has prepared you to apply your knowledge of safety rules—but what if your employer won’t listen? At the end of the day, it’s important to be able to walk away when employers ask you to do something that goes against what you know is right. The costs of walking away from a job can be high, but the costs of working in an unsafe environment are much higher—for you, your coworkers, and possibly for the general public.
If you’re in a union, your union representative should be the first person you contact about an employer who won’t listen to safety concerns. If you’re not, you may want to file a complaint with your state’s Department of Labor or even a federal OSHA complaint. Remember that whistleblower laws protect you from retaliation by your employer if you file a complaint with OSHA.
Safety is the first priority on any well-run job site, and an OSHA training puts you in a great position to become a safety advocate. The more you know about proper safety procedures, the more you’ll be able to communicate them to your coworkers and help create a proud and productive safety culture at your job sites.