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Defining federal guidelines for workplace safety training, Part 1

The well-known phrase "ignorance is bliss" is certainly fodder for debate and discussion. In a professional setting, on the other hand, it seems as though knowledge is power.

Just as training is often necessary to get employees up to speed on their specific work duties, it may also be necessary to provide safety training. After all, workers may not know how to perform their job safely without clear, specific guidance.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there is no specific requirement to provide safety instruction to all employees in the federal law that established the regulatory agency. However, many of the federally mandated safety regulations do include training components.

In other words, employers should provide training to their employees as necessary. This requires an evaluation of training needs as it relates to specific work-related duties and the requirements put forth by OSHA. Once employers have identified what type of training is needed, they can roll out a training program that will address their needs.

Interestingly enough, most training is referred to as "voluntary training." Based on OSHA standards, however, it's more of a necessity than an optional course of action.

Most employers are covered by "general industry" safety regulations, but there are some notable exceptions, which will be discussed in our next post. As a result, employers that fall into this category should become familiar with and enforce these requirements, in addition to providing necessary training. Failure to comply could result in a serious or fatal workplace accident.

One thing to keep in mind is that even if employers provide all the necessary training and employees maintain safe work habits, accidents can and do happen. Employers are generally required to provide workers' compensation benefits in these circumstances.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Training Requirements in OSHA Standards and Training Guidelines," accessed June 26, 2014

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