The environmental health and safety (EHS) field has evolved to be about more than just administering training and responding to incidents. In truth, EHS management also requires identifying potential issues and creating solutions for the inevitable workplace incident.
Many people within the safety industry are likely aware of existing EHS management software options — and are familiar with how expensive and time prohibitive these large platforms can be during implementation. They are also often difficult to maintain because, while each of their applications may be beneficial, they typically act as entirely separate pieces.
Additionally, employee training has never been a standard feature of safety management platforms, but is more of an add-on function serving simply to check off the “employee training” boxes. In reality, training should be implemented with the goal of addressing the real, applicable hazards those employees will face while on the job.
Whether an organization is using a bulky EHS management platform with disconnected features or is relying on multiple systems — such as providing training in person, using a spreadsheet to track incidents, purchasing generic safety toolbox talks and so on — the result will essentially be no result. After all, having a disparate safety program is not much better than having no safety program at all.
Instead, think about how much more efficient safety management can be when you use the same service for every piece of the EHS management puzzle, where the features all tie together to create a cohesive safety program.
In fact, the latest Verdantix Green Quadrant report, which provides a detailed comparison of the most prominent EHS software platform vendors, noted that organizations are actively looking to invest in software that combines safety training, incident management and risk mitigation.
What is SafetySkills Empower?
After more than 35 years of providing engaging and effective safety training content to companies around the world, we knew we wanted to offer a full suite of integrated tools that create an invaluable holistic approach to safety management.
SafetySkills Empower is designed to be utilized by both longtime safety experts and by those with no industry experience. The lightweight design means the full suite is ready to go upon implementation, without having to wait a year or longer before reaching its full use potential for your business.
In addition to our ever-growing catalog of more than 800 training courses, SafetySkills Empower users will also have access to an entire outcome-based training platform that includes a job hazard analysis tool, an incident management tool, custom JHA briefings, toolbox talk sessions and digital OSHA recordkeeping forms.
Keep reading to learn more about each tool and how SafetySkills Empower can help you create an efficient and safe workplace for all employees.
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Learning Management and Safety Training
Conducting employee training is one of the most important and resource-intensive things any organization can do. New employees need to be trained on processes and procedures that may be unfamiliar to them, while all employees must stay up to date on regulations.
However, employee training not only needs to be completed, but it must also be effective. If the employees don’t take anything away from the courses, and the lessons cannot be applied directly to their jobs, then all that time and money spent on training was essentially a waste.
As any corporate trainer can tell you, gone are the days of packing large groups into a conference room for long, monotonous training presentations. Now, online training is king, and if a company doesn’t offer an online learning library, it is assumed their training content may not be fully up to date with standards, regulations and management best practices.
So how do you decide which training software is right for the needs of your team? With hundreds of platforms available, there are many different features you should look at to compare and contrast to find your ideal match.
Here are some of the top features you should be on the lookout for:
- Engaging content
- Cross-device functionality
- Hazard analysis tools
- Incident reporting
- Multiple language options
- Flexible pricing models
Whatever features your company decides are important, remember that in the end, it simply comes down to which training software can provide everything you and your team needs in an easy, affordable way.
The Empower Solution: At SafetySkills, creating the best safety training content possible has always been our key focus. Our simple and effective training is what we’ve become known — and trusted — for and nothing is changing with the introduction of Empower. The Empower LMS will continue to streamline the training process for any team, department or organization. Plus, every Empower account includes the entire SafetySkills catalog of more than 800 courses.
Within the Empower LMS, every user has an at-a-glance view of their assigned courses, both those they have completed and those they need to take. Behind the scenes, administrative permissions allow training to be easily assigned to individuals or to groups using the custom fields created when first adding users. All SafetySkills courses are indexed within the Empower ecosystem, meaning training is tied to job hazards, closing the training loop and providing an immersive experience.
Toolbox Talk Sessions
Depending on your industry, you may already be familiar with the concept of a toolbox talk, although there are many different names people may use, such as tailgate briefings, tailgate meetings, safety time-outs, crew briefings, safety moments or safety talks.
But no matter what you know them as, their goal is the same: provide a quick meeting, typically between 5 and 20 minutes, discussing a certain safety topic that is relevant to that team.
None of the government regulatory bodies offer requirements regarding toolbox talk topics, but that can work in your favor. Toolbox talks need to cover information that best applies to the group that will be receiving the talk — and that’s it.
It is up to each organization to determine what makes the most sense for them. For example, a construction crew might need to discuss trenching hazards, a warehouse distribution center can review safety surrounding the use of powered lifts and a toolbox talk for office workers could cover everything from ergonomics to fire extinguisher use.
Incorporating toolbox talks into your regular work schedule truly is as easy as it sounds. Whether you decide to start with monthly toolbox talks or increase your current meetings to weekly or daily, you can feel comfort in knowing the more your team talks about safety, the higher a priority safety becomes.
The Empower Solution: Many third-party safety training platforms have started offering downloadable “toolbox talk” guides. However, because these companies need toolbox talks to be generic, they generally don’t cover an extremely wide range of topics. With Empower, you are able to choose from more than 800 training courses — almost 600 of which are between 2 and 20 minutes long — covering literally hundreds of safety hazards.
Because effective safety training has always been at the core of what SafetySkills offers, you can trust that our toolbox talk sessions contain crucial information provided in an engaging, memorable way. Each session can be displayed on any device, whether in an office or on a remote jobsite, and includes quiz questions, helping to prove employee understanding of the material and offering discussion points for key items to focus on.
Job Hazard Analysis
One way companies can take a proactive approach to safety is through a job hazard analysis (JHA), which is an efficient way of reviewing workplace activities and understanding where the hazards may lie.
Being proactive with jobsite safety is crucial because, as the Verdantix Green Quadrant report notes, intervening “before equipment fails or a worker is injured is significantly more valuable than the ability to report on the incident” afterwards.
Implementing a JHA at your jobsite may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Every job hazard analysis can be completed through four questions that will help employers and employees navigate this important step toward safety.
- Which jobs should you analyze?
- What are the tasks involved with that job?
- What are the hazards of each task?
- How can you implement controls to mitigate those hazards?
Sometimes conducting a job hazard analysis will reveal large gaps in safety, while other times you may find that a job is being conducted as safely as possible. No matter what, understanding the potential dangers present on the job will make you a better safety leader and help to eliminate or reduce workplace incidents.
But also remember that simply conducting a JHA is not the end of safety prep. The selected controls must be documented where they can be easily found, communicated to all applicable employees and followed up on. Understanding safety hazards and actively planning for those hazards are two different things.
The Empower Solution: After deciding which jobs to review, you can turn to Empower to help make the actual JHA easy and straightforward. The pre-loaded hazards can be quickly added to job steps and the extensive list of controls, including any of our in-depth training courses, can be assigned to solve for those hazards, with the option of assigning due dates for completion and follow up. Over time, Empower’s formulaic AI will also be able to suggest potentially applicable controls for your hazards identified by other Empower users with those same hazards.
With a simple interface, step-by-step selections and the knowledge of our in-house industry experts behind it all, Empower makes conducting multiple JHAs quick and easy, which not only saves you time but could end up protecting your workers and your company by avoiding potentially devastating accidents. Once completed, rather than becoming a piece of documentation that is simply filed away and forgotten, the Empower system lets you assign controls to any employee. Each completed JHA also allows you to create a dynamic JHA briefing, addressing your team’s needs based on actual, identified hazards.
While toolbox talks allow teams to conduct quick group training sessions to address any number of topics, these can still end up being fairly generic. It is never a bad idea to discuss safety hazards or potentially dangerous situations on the job, but sometimes a more custom approach is needed.
When compared to toolbox talks, JHA briefings go one step further, providing targeted content that is directly applicable to the group attending the talk. For instance, an entire construction crew may need training over excavation and trenching, but a JHA briefing can be focused on one particular team’s tasks, such as working in confined spaces.
Much of the difficulty in conducting these types of discussions lies in knowing what topics would best be covered. However, if you have conducted JHAs, are aware of your jobsite hazards and relevant controls, and understand the needs of your employees on a given day, you can set any team up for success.
The Empower Solution: Toolbox talks serve as excellent “short form” training sessions that keep safety topics at the forefront of workers’ minds, but if safety topics are too broad, the learning sessions end up not as helpful as they should be. With Empower’s JHA briefings, discussion content is generated for you and is customized based on your completed JHAs.
Each hazard and control pre-loaded within the Empower database includes a description intended for use in a JHA briefing, meaning a safety professional does not have to lead every session. The dynamically generated briefings are built to suit specific job tasks for the day, or they can be set up ahead of time to plan out topics for multiple days. This straightforward, easy-to-use feature marks the implementation of the JHA and has the potential to change the way teams conduct safety briefings.
Incident Management System
While it is important to be proactive in your company’s safety and to recognize — and then hopefully eliminate — jobsite hazards before they can become an issue, accidents do still happen. And when they do, everyone needs to be prepared.
This means understanding what needs to be reported, how and to whom. Complete and accurate reporting ensures the incident is resolved properly. It also helps to show where additional training or safety precautions may be needed. Unfortunately, not all companies have clear and consistent incident management procedures.
Because you never know who might be involved in an incident, and therefore who might need to make the official report, be sure all employees are familiar with the four easy steps that must be taken in any investigation:
Report the incident
An incident describes an unplanned event resulting in an injury or illness to a person, or property or environmental damage. However, near-misses (events that don’t result in an injury but could have) and safety observations (formal evaluations of safety practices) should also be reported because it is just as important to learn from potential incidents.
The process to submit an on-the-job incident should be simple enough for any employee — not just those trained in safety reporting — to complete. Unfortunately, not all companies have an incident reporting form (IRF) ready and available for use at any time, from any location.
Begin the investigation
The initial report includes information only from the perspective of the reporter. During the investigation, that information needs to be corroborated and substantiated. The complexity of this step depends on the details of the incident: the more persons affected or the greater the damage done, the longer the investigation will likely take.
No matter how complex the investigation is, there are certain things that will need to be completed. The investigator should always document all involved personnel, detail any damage, gather witness statements and take photos or videos of the scene.
Conduct an analysis
The third step is to analyze the findings of the investigation through a root cause analysis (RCA). There are dozens of RCA methods in use today, but the most common, especially in the health and safety industry, are the fishbone diagram and the five whys.
While a fishbone diagram, also known as an Ishikawa diagram or a cause-and-effect diagram, helps to determine potential causal factors, the five whys serve to find the hidden causes of those significant factors. No matter which method you choose, once you have determined why something happened, you are ready to decide how to try and prevent it from happening again.
Create actionable next steps
The ultimate purpose of an incident investigation is to identify any corrective and preventive actions (CAPAs) needed. A corrective action is reactive and is intended to fix the situation in question. A preventive action is proactive, to ensure similar incidents don’t happen in the future.
The actions you choose to implement will be based on your specific needs, but CAPAs fall within the hierarchy of hazard control: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls or personal protective equipment. Also remember that safety training is a very effective preventive action. Employees can be trained on literally hundreds of safety topics.
Once you have completed a full investigation, identified what went wrong and determined how to proceed in the future, be sure you communicate the findings and decisions to your employees. After all, if not everyone is aware of the solutions, there is still a risk of the same incident occurring again.
The Empower Solution: Because we understand how important incident investigation is for any organization, we have made incident reporting a breeze, with a step-by-step process that means anyone — not just a safety professional — can fill out this important information in a clear and consistent manner. Additionally, the Empower application is designed for use from any location, allowing photo or video evidence to be taken at the scene and easily added to a case file.
With Empower, you have the choice of conducting a root cause analysis using a fishbone diagram, the 5 Whys, or both, with built-in templates for each. The Empower interface also makes it easy to select corrective and preventive actions (or CAPAs), including any of our 800+ SafetySkills training courses, to resolve the hazard or hazards in question and assign those actions to the correct people.
Because enforcement is part of OSHA’s mission, they regularly conduct workplace inspections, at which time they may request to see various records of injuries and illnesses. OSHA inspections can result in potentially serious fines, so it is wise for all employers to make sure their recordkeeping is thorough and accurate.
Any injury or illness that occurs from a work-related incident and that requires medical treatment, whether from a medical professional or from a layperson, needs to be recorded. If basic first aid is all that is needed to treat an injury, that incident does not need to be noted in your OSHA logs.
Here are the three different OSHA recordkeeping logs that need to be completed and maintained by all applicable organizations. The names of the logs are similar, so they can be easily confused, but here is a simple breakdown of the function of each.
OSHA Form 301 contains any injury deemed to be OSHA recordable and lists the extent and severity of an injury or illness and medical information.
OSHA 300 Log includes more employee details and if the incident resulted in death, days away from work, a job transfer, or other outcomes.
OSHA 300A serves as an annual summary of all work-related incidents and is submitted annually to OSHA.
Ensuring you are doing everything fully by the book and up to OSHA standards can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Working with an expert in safety training can help you get up to speed and make sure your records are prepared for an inspection or for OSHA submission.
The Empower Solution: After submitting incident reports and completing investigations, you need to make sure all required OSHA forms are filled out. Early on during your Empower implementation, we will determine if your organization falls within the OSHA recording requirements. If so, Empower will make this process easy when the time comes.
A key part of OSHA recordkeeping is understanding what needs to be done with each log. Empower provides clear guides for each OSHA form and, where applicable, pulls information directly from completed incident reporting forms. And even though the 300A form must be submitted manually through OSHA, Empower makes it easy to have all the accurate information at your fingertips for quick and easy submission.
Partnering With SafetySkills
Rather than the months of endless configuration required for heavy-duty EHS systems, the lightweight design of SafetySkills Empower means the adoption and onboarding timeline is very quick. We know you don’t want to be held up for long periods when it comes to the safety of your employees. We have worked hard behind the scenes to make sure our full suite can be implemented as quickly as possible.
While the SafetySkills Empower suite is robust in what it can do, it is designed with the intention of being utilized by both longtime safety experts and by those with no industry experience. The interface is user-friendly and we utilize standard terminology that matches industry-wide best practices.
No matter how many employees your team includes, and regardless of your past safety record, Empower by SafetySkills can help you create an intuitive, functional and effective outcome-based safety training program.