Nelson & Associates :: Workplace :: Workplace Safety Training

Workplace Safety Training

The proper training of workers in regard to required safe methods and procedures necessary to avoid injury while performing their work is a responsibility of management and a vital element in the conduct of workplace safety programming. As the technology and skill levels concerning both new and traditional workplace activity become more complex, the precise training of the workforce increases in importance. Not only is such training important for new or transferred workers, even experienced workers require periodic upgrading or retraining to remain current. As science and technology advances, and becomes more complex, continuous and skillful training of the workforce becomes even more important. The type and quality of training provided will have a profound effect on the results in terms of general job performance, and of most importance, in terms of safety performance.

At the same time, caution must be exercised to not over-emphasize training in place of the safe design of workplace equipment, machinery, and associated facilities. The concept that safe design is required before safety procedures (and necessary training) are initiated has been a cardinal principle of safety engineering for decades. The first issue of the National Safety Council's Accident Prevention Manual for Industrial Operations (1946) sets forth this principle using industrial machine guarding as an example stating that

"positive guarding... should be relied upon rather than a machine operator's consistent obedience to safety rules. Every effort should be made to make [hardware systems] so positive in action [inherently safe] that human failure cannot cause an accident."

Basic types of job safety training include: (a) new employee orientation (covering topics such as general safety policy, general safety rules, employee responsibility for compliance with safety rules), (b) initial job instruction (specific safety rules and procedures associated with specific job assignments), (c) new job position safety orientation (regarding employee transfer or expansion of job duties, no matter how long a worker has been employed), and (d) pre-job safety instruction (for infrequently performed maintenance or service jobs).

Trainer Selection

The selected trainer must possess the technical knowledge of the subjects to be taught, a mastery of the techniques required to perform the job, and the teaching ability and patience to transfer such knowledge and skill to others in a manner that instills confidence and a pride of workmanship.

Instructor preparation for job safety training includes: (a) preparation, (b) presentation, and (c) observation.


Identify and define the specific skills and attributes required for the job to be performed. Prepare job safety analyses – list job steps, potential hazards, and required safety precautions. What tools, equipment, and teaching materials will be needed for instruction?


Use a combination of instruction, explanation, and demonstration.


Have the student demonstrate the entire job cycle to show understanding. Ask the worker to explain each job step as it is performed. Coach the worker where needed. Consider mistakes made as reflecting the quality of the instruction as well as the leaning ability of the worker. When job has been completed, tell worker the things performed correctly, and tactfully correct the things performed incorrectly. Repeat this process as needed.

Many text references are available that outline the basic ingredients of proper employee safety training to include publications of the National Safety Council at

The Department of Labor (OSHA) has also published various references and guidelines regarding employee training to include:

See also American National Standards Institute, and American Society of Safety Engineers, American National Standard – Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health, and Environmental Training, ANSI/ASSE Z490.1, 2001 at,, or

© Nelson & Associates