Manufacturing Safety Training Tips: How to Get It Right

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Looking for some manufacturing safety training tips? If so, that makes sense. There’s a lot to be said in favor of working in manufacturing, but it does pose a set of hazards to the workers.

However, safety managers and other safety professionals work tirelessly to create safer, healthier workplaces for manufacturing employees (and of course, in a good safety culture, they’re working hand-in-hand with the employees themselves), and part of that involves safety training for the manufacturing workforce.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through some key aspects of safety and safety training in manufacturing facilities, and give you tips to help create a safer, healthier workplace.

Before we begin, though, know that you can download a free guide to Effective Safety Training by clicking the download button at the end of this article, or just download any of the free guides and/or watch any of the free webinars listed below.

And with all that said, and with those free resources made available, let’s get to listing some manufacturing safety training tips.

Four Keys Aspects of Safety: Safety Management, Hazard Identification and the JHA, the Hierarchy of Controls, and Safety Training

This article is about tips for manufacturing safety training, but we’re not going to just jump right into safety training right away.

That’s because safety training never happens in a vacuum. It’s part of a larger, organized safety and health effort.

As a result, in this article, we’ll discuss:

  • The benefits of a safety and health management program
  • Hazard identification, including the job hazard analysis
  • The hierarchy of control, and the place of safety training within that hierarchy
  • Tips for manufacturing safety training

So let’s start our deep dive into manufacturing safety and manufacturing safety training.

Safety and Health Management Programs/Systems

A truly comprehensive occupational safety effort is centered around a safety and health management program or system.

OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs puts it this way:

Establishing a safety and health program in your workplace is one of the most effective ways of protecting your most valuable asset: your workers.

And the national standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, ANSI Z10, has this to say:

There is widespread agreement that the use of management systems can improve organizational performance, including performance in the occupational health and safety arena.

As a result, any effort toward manufacturing safety, including manufacturing safety training, is most effective when grounded within a safety and health management system.

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Health and Safety Management Systems in Five Steps

Let’s break this intro to safety and health management systems down into five steps for you:

  • Management leadership & employee participation
  • Planning your safety and health management system
  • Implementing and operating the system
  • Monitoring, evaluating, and correcting the system
  • Management review of the safety and health management system

Step 1: Management Leadership and Employee Participation in a Health and Safety Management System

The health and safety management program won’t work without management leadership and employee buy-in. Each are equally important, each must be secured initially and faithfully maintained

See this article to read more about management leadership and employee participation in an occupational health and safety management system.

Step 2: Planning a Health and Safety Management System

Your safety and health management program won’t go anywhere without planning, and its continued planning will make it increasingly effective.

As a result, you should not only create an initial plan, but should implement periodic reviews of the plan as well.

Here are four essential action items:

  • Collect and analyze all information relevant to safety and health issues and safety and health management system issues
  • Prioritize all those issues for attention
  • Develop objectives for your safety and health management system
  • Create a plan to implement your safety and health management system

See this article to read more about planning a health and safety management system.

Step 3: Implementing and Operating a Health and Safety Management System

Once the system is planned, it’s time to implement the system.

OSHA’s recommended practices for safety and health management address this with a strong emphasis on hazard identification and assessment and, naturally, hazard prevention and control.

Both the hierarchy of controls, which we address in the following section of this article, and safety training, which we address in the section of this article after that, and which is the focus of this article, fit into this step of safety and health management.

Here are some easy ways to get started, drawn from the OSHA document just mentioned:

See this article to read more about implementing and operating a health and safety management system.

Step 4: Monitoring, Evaluating, and Correcting a Health and Safety Management System

Once you’ve got your safety and health management program, you’ll need to monitor it, evaluate its performance, and correct deficiencies in a never-ending continuous improvement system.

This may sound like a lot, but consider this from OSHA’s recommended practices for safety and health management:

Make Improvements-Set aside a regular time to discuss safety and health issues, with the goal of identifying ways to improve the program.

The ANSI Z10 standard suggests the following steps based on the Deming Plan-D0-Check-Act cycle:

  1. Monitor, measure, and assess system performance
  2. Perform incident investigations
  3. Audit the health and safety management system
  4. Perform corrective actions of your health and safety management system when called for
  5. Periodically update the planning process and management review of your health and safety management system

See this article to read more about monitoring, evaluating, and correcting a health and safety management system.

Step 5: Management Review of the Health and Safety Management System

Employers and/or management should periodically review the system to make sure it’s been implemented and is performing as intended.

Here’s how the OSHA recommendations on safety and health management put it:

ONCE A SAFETY and health program is established, it should be evaluated initially to verify that it is being implemented as intended. After that, employers should periodically, and at least annually, step back and assess what is working and what is not, and whether the program is on track to achieve its goals. Whenever these assessments identify opportunities to improve the program, employers, managers, and supervisors—in coordination with workers—should make adjustments and monitor how well the program performs as a result. Sharing the results of monitoring and evaluation within the workplace, and celebrating successes, will help drive further improvement.

After the management review, create a summary of the review that lists the top commitments of upper management and a list of action items, including listing the person responsible for completing the items and target completion dates.

It’s a good idea to periodically distribute status updates on the results of those action items.

See this article to read more about management review of a health and safety management system.

What to Train Employees about Your Safety and Health Management System

Since this article is about safety training, we thought we’d call out that you should provide your employees with training about your safety and health management system, including (1) that you have one, (2) what its purpose is, and (3) what their role in it is.

For More on Safety and Health Management Systems

We hope that helps get you started on a safety and health management system. But know that we’ve got these other, more detailed resources about safety and health management for you as well:

Also, keep your eyes on the progress of ISO 45001.

And finally, you may want to learn some more about various “new” schools of safety, which take “systems thinking” into account. Here are some good starting places.

Hazard Identification

As we learned in our reading above about safety and health management systems, an important aspect of occupational safety and health management is identifying and controlling workplace hazards.

There are several ways to identify hazards at the workplace, and everyone–management, supervisors, safety personnel, and rank and file employees–should play a role.

One of the keys to identifying to hazards at work is to perform a series of job hazard analyses. These are also known as JHAs, and sometimes as job safety analyses or JSA as well. That’s what we’ll focus on in this article, although all aspects of hazard identification are important.

For more on hazard identification, in addition to just JHAs, check out this OSHA webpage on hazard identification.

Before You Perform The Job Hazard Analyses: Four Initial Steps

Here are four tips to keep in mind or to do even before you begin the official JHA process.

Get Employees Involved

Make sure you involve employees, along with supervisors and a safety professional, in the job hazard analysis process. Employees know the job and hazards as well as anyone, and in many cases better.

Review Records of Incidents, Including Near-Misses, Injuries, Illnesses, Fatalities, and Property Damage

Check your incident records to see what type of problems you’ve already been experiencing–and don’t forget those near misses too.

It’s possible you’ve got hazards, perhaps even serious hazards, that haven’t yet caused an incident, so don’t stop there. But your incident list will give you a good point in the right direction.

Ask Your Employees About the Hazards in Their Work Area

Ask employees if they have known hazards in their work area and create a list now, even before you begin the actual JHA process.

Of course, if your workers point out a serious hazard, put a control in immediately.

Make a List of the Jobs or Tasks For Which You’ll Perform Job Hazard Analyses

Make a list of the jobs and/or job tasks at the site and then rank them in the order for which you’ll perform JHAs.

If you can do a JHA for every job, great, but in many cases, that’s not possible.

In those cases, address the jobs with the most serious and/or probable hazards. To help you understand those concepts, check out our Risk Management and Safety article.

With these preliminary steps down, you’re now ready to begin the process of completing your job hazard analyses, described below.

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The Steps of Performing a Job Hazard Analysis

Perform the JHA using the following four steps.

Step 1: Break the Job Down into the Steps or Tasks Performing While Completing the Job

Find the best way to perform a job and break it down into a list, listing each step in turn.

Name and number each step, list them in order, plus describe the step, list the hazards associated with the step, and write down some potential hazard controls.

There’s a sample form for this in OSHA’s JHA document. We’ve also included one in our free Job Hazard Analysis Guide.

Step 2: Identify and List the Hazards Associated with Each Step

Let’s begin by explaining what a hazard is.

What Is a Hazard?

In general terms, a hazard is something with the potential to cause harm.

Notice that we said a hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm. While it’s important to remember that potential for harm, it’s also worth pointing out:

  • A hazard is not the same thing as the injury, illness, or incident itself
  • A hazard may never cause an injury or illness (even though it has the potential to)

We’ve listed some categories of hazards for you in the table. below.

Type of Hazard Description Example
Safety Hazards Common hazards that cause immediate injuries and illnesses, and may lead to death Slip, trip, and fall hazards; working from heights; electrical hazards; moving machines; mobile equipment
Biological Hazards Other life forms that can cause injury or illnesses Viruses, bacteria, mold, fungi, animal bites/stings, toxic plants, blood and other bodily fluids
Chemical and other Exposure Hazards Things that can cause harm to you when you are exposed Radiation, temperature (high or low), noise, chemicals
Ergonomic Hazards Strains and stresses on the body caused by workplace motions and body positions Poorly designed work areas, repeated motions, lifting heavy weights
Psychological or Societal Hazards Hazards caused by interacting with people and social conditions at the workplace Workplace violence, sexual harassment, stress, depression, alcohol and drug addiction

OK, now that we know what a hazard is, let’s move on to discuss identifying hazards before they cause harm. This gives you a chance to remove or reduce the potential for harm.

As we mentioned above, once you’ve listed each step or task of the job, list the hazards associated with each task.

While doing so, ask:

  • What could go wrong?
  • What could cause that thing/those things to go wrong?
  • What other factors could contribute to that thing/those things going wrong?
  • What would happen if that thing/those things did go wrong?
  • How likely is it that that thing/those things will go wrong?

How to Identify Hazards

Here are some ways to identify hazards at work beyond those discussed already:

You may find OSHA’s Hazard Identification Training Tool helpful here.

Step 3: Write a Description of the Hazard(s)

Once you’ve identified hazards, write a description of each one.

A good hazard description should include:

  • Environment: where does the hazard exist?
  • Exposure: who or what might the hazard harm?
  • Trigger: is there an event that might cause the hazard to cause harm?
  • Contributing factors: are there other factors that could lead to harm?
  • Outcome/consequence: what would happen if the hazard did cause harm?

Here’s a one-screen sample from our online Job Hazard Analysis course that demonstrates this.

Step 4: Create a Plan to Control Each Hazard

Your next job is to think of a way to control each of the hazards you’ve identified and described.

While doing so, use the hierarchy of controls, which we’ll explain in detail in the section below.

Remember, though, that you’ll want to prioritize which hazards to address first.

These are the kind of hazards you should address first:

  • Hazards that are very likely to cause harm
  • Hazards that would lead to very severe consequences
  • Hazards that are both very likely to cause harm and would lead to severe consequences (these would be the highest priority of all)

These kind of issues are typically addressed under the topics of risk management and risk assessment. Click to read more about this in our article on risk management and safety.

What to Train Employees about Hazard Identification and the Job Hazard Analysis

It’s a good idea to provide training to employees to help develop their ability to spot hazards–and also how to report them when they do. Also, provide training on what a JHA is, what its purpose is, and the employee’s role in the JHA process.

The Hierarchy of Controls

Once you’ve identified hazards and prioritized them for attention, it’s time to devise controls to make the job safer. Let’s now move on to discuss controlling those hazards.

Controlling Hazards: What Does It Mean to Control a Hazard?

“Controlling a hazard” means considering a workplace hazard and designing a way to:

  • Remove its ability to cause harm
  • Reduce its ability to cause harm

So, in everyday language, it’s a way to make work safer.

Different Types of Controls

Earlier we listed different types of hazards.

Likewise, there are different types of controls, as described in the table below.

Hazard Control Description Example
Elimination Remove a hazard from the workplace Changing a production process so that a chemical known to cause cancer is no longer used
Substitution Replace a hazard with something less hazardous Changing a formula so that instead of working with a highly explosive fluid, workers work with a fluid that’s less explosive
Engineering Control(s) Design a solution that controls the hazard at its source (requires a physical change at the workplace) Encasing a noisy machine inside a sound-proof barrier
Safe Work Practice(s) Develop specific rules and procedures for all workers to follow when working in the presence of or potentially exposed to a hazard Placing warning labels on hazardous chemicals
Administrative Control(s) Developing other work practices to protect workers from hazards Limiting the amount of time workers can work in a noisy area
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Protective clothing or equipment that protects a worker from a hazard Providing hearing protection to people who work in a noisy area

Let’s talk about a few more aspects of these types of controls.

Elimination and Substitution of Hazards:

You’ll sometimes see these two lumped together within Engineering Controls.

Safe Work Practices:

Some examples of safe work practices include:

Safe Work Practices and Administrative Controls:

You’ll sometimes see these grouped in as forms of Administrative Controls. However, OSHA specifically says “OSHA uses the term administrative controls to mean other measures aimed at reducing employee exposure to hazards” (other than safe work practices, that is).

Which controls should you use first? Is there a method/order?

Yes, there is a “best” order to use when trying to implement hazard controls.

That’s where the term the hierarchy of controls comes into play, as you’ll learn below.

What Is the Hierarchy of Controls?

The idea behind the hierarchy of controls is that you should attempt the controls in order from top to bottom. That means trying elimination first, then substitution, then engineering controls, administration controls, work practice controls, and only then PPE.

Notes: We’ve “collapsed” work practice controls into the administrative controls category here, but don’t forget about it. Also, the hierarchy has traditionally been represented visually as shown below, with the small end of the pyramid pointed up, but many people are now “flipping it” so the broad end of the pyramid is at the top, which makes sense.

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The Controls Are Ordered Top to Bottom to Match Their Effectiveness, Most to Least

The controls are listed from most effective (at the top) to least effective (at the bottom).

Think of it, at the top, you’ve got elimination. You can’t do much better than eliminate the hazard, right? And at the bottom, you’ve got PPE, meaning the worker is still working in the presence of the full hazard, and only proper use of the PPE (and its proper operation) stands between the worker and some form of harm.

PPE is at the bottom of the pyramid because it’s the least effective and should only be used as a last resort. Don’t use PPE as the first option–try all other controls first.

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Using More than One Control to Control a Hazard

In many cases, you’ll

Jeff Dalto, Senior Learning & Performance Improvement Manager
Jeff is a learning designer and performance improvement specialist with more than 20 years in learning and development, 15+ of which have been spent working in manufacturing, industrial, and architecture, engineering & construction training. Jeff has worked side-by-side with more than 50 companies as they implemented online training. Jeff is an advocate for using evidence-based training practices and is currently completing a Masters degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning from Boise State University. He writes the Vector Solutions | Convergence Training blog and invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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