Keeping safety training fresh and mandatory

By: September 30th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is an excerpt from the Complete Guide to Laboratory Safety, Third Edition, by Terry Jo Gile. To purchase this book, click here.

Stagnation is a problem that all safety trainers face in the course of their safety program. Injuries may be reduced, workers’ compensation rates are low, and safety training is considered boring. Michael Melnik, president of Prevention Plus, Inc., in Minneapolis, says, “After a while, employees stop seeing posters, their attention fades during safety training, and incentive programs lose their punch.”

Keeping safety training fresh is crucial to compliance. Bookmark safety websites and sign up for safety e-newsletters that will keep you informed of the latest information. Start a file for each subject either on your computer or in hard copy in a drawer so that when September rolls around, you won’t have to frantically search for information.

Your lab’s OSHA 300 Logs also may suggest where additional training is required. Schedule motivational reminder sessions or more in-depth training in any area where you have had an unusual number of adverse incidents. It is helpful to verify all employees’ knowledge of required safety procedures at least annually.

The final area of mandatory training involves updating staff when regulatory requirements change. Updates will cover changes made by OSHA or other agencies to regulations on chemical safety, biohazards, radiation, or safe transport of lab specimens. You can also learn about changes that may require additional training at the OSHA website (, in professional journals, and at meetings of professional associations serving lab professionals. These professional associations include the Clinical Laboratory Management Association, the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, and the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. New or amended regulations sometimes specify a deadline by which training on the changes must be conducted to bring labs into compliance. Therefore, as you watch for changing content in the rules, check for any training deadlines that may be imposed.

In addition to providing mandatory training, you must teach employees how to interact when an inspector from a regulatory body such as OSHA or the Environmental Protection Agency arrives. Do they know t hey are to refer the inspector to a manager? Once the inspector has been granted access for the inspection, do employees know how to respond to questioning and when to remain quiet? Employees should understand liability concerns related to safety.


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