The Risks of Avoiding Workplace Safety Training
Workplace safety training is a minimum requirement for creating a safe and sustainable work environment. The exact shape of safety training will vary by workplace, depending on the size and complexity of the organization, and on the industry.
As outlined in the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (and equivalent acts in most provinces and states), employers have an obligation to take all reasonable precautions to keep their workers safe.
This often begins with identifying all potential safety risks at your workplace, and developing a document (usually called a risk assessment or hazard analysis) that provides traceability between identified risks, and measures in place to mitigate those risks.
One of the key aspects of risk mitigation and management is having approved policies and training in place, for all jobs at all levels, that prepare workers to recognize potential hazards and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. Controls such as annual safety training, equipment checks, and regular updates on specific safety events (eg. pre-use inspections, site inspections) can help to reduce risk to an acceptable level.
Proper training for workers, supervisors, and organization stakeholders can mean the difference between a hazardous workplace and one that is as safe as possible for all workers. Unfortunately, many organizations make the mistake of underestimating the value and importance of adequate training.
The risks of avoiding workplace safety training may include:
Injuries and incidents
Incidents can include both injury to personnel, damage to equipment and a decrease in status within the industry. These events can have a detrimental effect on worker health and morale, on your workplace’s ability to retain and recruit employees, and so on. Providing safety training to workers can help prevent injuries. If your workers use any equipment (whether that’s computers or power tools), they should also be trained on the proper use and maintenance of that equipment.
Employees should also be trained on how to perform regular checks on their equipment, and organizations should have policies and procedures that identify what to do if equipment is found to be faulty.
An incident that occurs in a workplace is subject to scrutiny by a governing body such as the Ontario Ministry of Labour. If an accident occurs while the employee, contractor or volunteer is performing work for the employer, the company may be found liable if they are not able to prove that they had proper policies, procedures, and training to mitigate the risks of such an event.
Legal concerns can be costly, and like any health and safety issue can affect your organization’s reputation and ability to attract and retain skilled workers.
The financial risks of avoiding workplace safety training are twofold. A lack of adequate training that leads to an injury can impact your organization’s reputation, which can make it more difficult to do business, especially in an industry where workplace hazards and safety mitigations are top-of-mind for organizational stakeholders.
Inadequate training can also lead to fines and suspensions for your organization if it is determined that the lack of training could have led to an incident.
Finally, if a significant incident occurs at your work site, it has the potential to affect the public perception of your business, as well as your reputation within the industry, for example with competitors and potential clients. This is especially true if your organization is found to be at fault for the incident, such as in the case of inadequate workplace safety training.
In certain industries where companies bid on contracts or submit project proposals, prospective clients will often rate organizations on their safety compliance and training programs. Training audits like these usually look at an organization’s preceding 1 to 3 years worth of training documentation. Ensuring that you have an up-to-date risk assessment, and detailed policies and procedures that uphold all regulatory requirements, can make it easier for you to win contracts and grow as an organization.
Keeping personnel safe and healthy should be a priority for any organization. But it’s important not to overlook the many other legal, financial, and social implications of failing to provide adequate training to all employees and workers.
Not sure if your organization’s training procedures are adequate? Need help implementing a new training requirement? Fluent Motion can help you develop and maintain good quality training for all of your personnel.