Employee training is a task that usually comes under the supervision of managers. Each division, whether accounting, advertising, sales or customer service has needs specific to the service they render for the company. You need training seminars that teach the skills necessary for your employees to become more productive in their jobs, and that help foster collaboration and communication. One delivery option that provides flexibility in training are webinars. Webinars can be your key to developing leadership skills in your workplace.
A training Webinar is an online seminar. You log on at a particular time, and you will get to see a seminar on the Internet. Many training seminars are offered with a telephone number included, so that you can also call in and have an opportunity to interact with the trainer.
Online classes or webinars offer several advantages to in-person presentations. You are not limited to only local speakers for one. Nationally recognized trainers are available because with Internet access you are no longer limited by geography. An Internet presentation can be much more cost effective when you wish to have trainers give a presentation, but they live across the country from your offices and getting them there would make the training too cost prohibitive. Anyone with Internet access can participate in a webinar.
Many managers appreciate the flexibility that comes with webinar presentations. You can provide a specialized training for a select group of employees, or even individual trainees, or you can train a large group when you use an online training. A computer hooked to a projector and an amplified speaker telephone makes online seminars for large groups a snap. Training in a group setting also has the added benefit of facilitating greater collaboration and communication among employees, an excellent result when teams use the skills learned at the seminar to more effectively function in a small-group dynamic.
Employees who are receiving the training get much more out of a presentation that has been not only presented live, but is also recorded. Most educational experts agree that learning is best accomplished in a circular rather than a linear manner. A student needs to take in a new idea more than once for it to become permanently ingrained. Unlike a live presentation where you see it one time, material can be repeated as many times as desired when it is recorded and available to your employees online. Employees can then learn at their own pace, an added boon to increasing the effectiveness of the delivery method for all employees.
All of the different learner types can be well accommodated through the webinar delivery method. People who learn by listening, watching or doing themselves will have ample opportunity to learn with webinar training.
Understanding and implementing OSHA-approved safety measures
Last year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued more than $750,000 in citations to the metal fabrication industry for equipment-related safety violations. This includes tool usage and guarding issues, control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), and electrical safety. These citations do not begin to account for the total cost to metal fabricating shops when considering associated property damage, medical costs, workers’ compensation and insurance increases, lost work time, and lawsuits that often go along with the citations. To avoid equipment-related incidents, you must understand OSHA requirements and have safety programs in place, including those pertaining to tool safety and machine guarding, lockout/tagout, and electricity.
Safe tool usage and machine guarding violations were the most frequent and costly citation areas last year. The first thing that you must do is assess the specific hazards by evaluating each piece of equipment. If the machine is new, determine all points of operation, pinch points, and areas that require protection. Ensure that all required guards are in place, and replace any missing guards before allowing anyone to use the equipment.
If you have an older machine that needs guards, you must first determine if the machine is still made. If it is, contact the manufacturer and ask for information on the current guards supplied with new machines. Purchase or replicate the new guard configurations to provide protection, and discard any equipment that cannot be guarded adequately.
After you have assessed the hazards and have adequate guards on your equipment, you can then develop your safety program. Equipment operators must leave the guards on at all times unless the equipment is locked out. Include in your safety program your policy on removal of guards, including who is authorized to do it, and the required lockout/tagout procedures. Also include discipline for employees who remove or bypass guards.
Next, explain the function and purpose of the guards to each employee. Managers and employees must be familiar with the proper guards so they can recognize when something is missing. Without knowledge of the safety program and the purpose and function of the guards that protect them, employees are more likely to bypass or remove them. Remember that a successful training program is always time and money well spent; studies have shown a $4 to $6 return for every dollar invested in safety and health.
Failure to follow safe lockout/tagout procedures also accounted for a significant percentage of citation dollars. An effective lockout/tagout program is especially critical because the type of accident it is meant to prevent typically is severe and can result in crushing, amputation, struck-by, or electrocution injuries. OSHA requires you to identify the practices and procedures necessary to shut down and lock out or tag out machines and equipment; provide locks; and train employees on their role in the lockout/tagout program. Also, conduct periodic inspections to maintain or enhance your hazardous energy control program. The No. 1 citation in this area is lack of an effective written program.
Assess hazards by first identifying the lockout requirements for each piece of equipment used, serviced, and maintained at your facility. All energy sources must be documented, including direct and hidden sources. Documentation must include the hazard posed, the magnitude of danger, any special or unusual conditions, and the correct isolation methods and required devices.
About 95 percent of all lockout/tagout citations involve companies’ failure to have a formal program in place. The energy control or lockout/tagout program must be written and must include your hazard assessment, devices to be used, personnel authorized to perform lockout/tagout, enforcement policy and training methods, and the method for auditing and updating procedures. You must develop written procedures for shutting down and locking out each machine. Except in emergencies, each lock/tag must be removed by the person who put it on, and each employee must have his or her own locks and tags. Make sure your written program accounts for situations when servicing lasts longer than one shift, when contractors are involved, or when a group of employees services a piece of equipment.
The training program must consist of effective initial training and periodic retraining. You must have certification that training has been given to all employees covered by the standard. The training each employee needs is based on the relationship of his or her job to the machine or equipment being locked or tagged out. OSHA identifies three types of employees: authorized, affected, and other.
1. Authorized employees are those responsible for implementing the energy control procedures to perform service and maintenance. They must understand the need for lockout/tagout procedures and be able to recognize hazardous energy sources. They also must have a clear understanding of the means and methods of controlling the various types of energy sources and how to verify that each energy isolation is effective.
2. Affected employees are those who operate or use equipment on which servicing or maintenance is being performed under lockout, or those who work in an area where servicing or maintenance is performed. Affected employees must ensure that they can recognize when a lockout/tagout procedure is being implemented. The goal of this training is simple: Whenever there is a lockout or tagout device in place on an energy-isolating device, the affected employee must leave it alone and make no attempt to operate the equipment.
3. All other employees must be able to recognize when the control procedure is being implemented and understand that they must leave lockout/tagout devices alone and not attempt to energize or operate the equipment.
Retraining must be provided whenever there is a change in job assignments, machines, equipment, or processes that present a new hazard; when there is a change in energy control procedures; inadequacies are present in employees’ use of the energy control procedure; or at least every three years.
Periodic inspections must be performed annually on each energy control procedure at your site, and the employer must certify that the periodic inspections have been performed. The certification must identify the particular machine, the date of the inspection, the employees included in the inspection, and the name of the person performing the inspection.
An average of one worker dies from electrocution on the job every day. Even low-voltage or low-current shock can cause serious harm or death. All of the equipment in a metal fabricating shop operates on 110 V or more and is capable of causing electric shock, burns, or electrocution.
Check your tools and equipment to ensure that the ground prong is present and that cords are in good condition. OSHA requires that live parts of electrical equipment operating at 50 V or more be guarded against accidental contact. Whenever conduit or electrical equipment is in a location where it could be exposed to physical damage, it must be enclosed or guarded. Junction boxes, pull boxes, and fittings must have approved covers. Unused openings in cabinets, boxes, and fittings must be closed.
Flexible cords are vulnerable because they can be damaged by aging, door or window edge contact, staples or fastenings used to hold them in place, abrasion from adjacent materials that they may contact, and various activities in their proximity. Improper use of flexible cords or use of damaged cords can cause shocks, burns, or fire. Whenever possible, use one of OSHA’s recognized hard-wiring methods. OSHA allows flexible cords to be used only for certain applications.
Check your circuits regularly. An inexpensive tester can tell you if the ground is connected and can also test your ground fault interrupter (GFI) protection. Your safety program must include policies for grounding systems and electrical shutoff device systems. Develop policies for use of ladders and scaffolding around electrical devices. Extension cords have specific current ratings that must not be exceeded or they can overheat and cause a fire without tripping the circuit breaker. Use a qualified electrician for installation and repair of circuits.
Personnel who are at primary risk of electrical hazards are arc welders, those who work with or around electric power tools and equipment, and maintenance and janitorial staff who are responsible for handling electrical issues at your facility. At lesser risk are all other personnel who work with or around other electrical equipment, including lighting, computers, coffee makers, and so forth. Training must be adequate to the needs of each employee depending on his or her specific tasks.
Employees must understand the built-in safety features of electrical systems, including insulation, ground fault circuit interrupters, double-insulated devices, grounding (both of the circuit and the equipment), guarding of live electrical parts, and fuses and circuit breakers.
Employees also must follow safe work practices, such as de-energizing electrical equipment before inspecting or making repairs, correct usage of flexible cords and extension cords, recognition of damaged electric tools and procedures to remove them from use, how to work safely near energized lines, and use of personal protective equipment.
All lockout/tagout devices (locks and tags) must have four key characteristics:
* They must be durable, meaning that they must withstand the environment for the length of the expected exposure.
* They must be standardized according to color, shape, or size.
* Devices must be substantial enough to minimize early or accidental removal.
* They must be identifiable, clearly identifying the person who applied them and warning of hazards should the machine or equipment become energized.
Fabricators as well as other workers may be required to use respirators to protect themselves from inhaling fumes, particles, or dust when performing cutting, grinding, welding, coating, or painting, especially if they are in contact with chrome-containing stainless steel or coatings, which presents the risk of hexavalent chromium exposure.
In cases such as these, respirators must be provided to protect the health of a worker and be selected on the basis of hazards the worker is exposed to. Employers are responsible for establishing and maintaining an effective respiratory protection program, which includes fit-testing for all employees who are required to use one.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is looking at fit-testing again, this time with a proposal to add a new fit-test method to its existing standard. The following is a review of the current requirements.
Anyone using a negative- or positive-pressure, tight-fitting facepiece respirator must pass an appropriate fit-test that uses an OSHA-accepted protocol. Fit-testing is required before initial use, whenever a different respirator facepiece is used, and at least once a year thereafter. An additional fit-test is required whenever a change in the wearer’s physical condition, such as facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or a significant change in body weight, could affect respirator fit.
A few basic checks must be performed even before using test protocols. The wearer should check for proper chin placement and strap tension, but be sure not to overtighten the respirator. He should make sure it fits correctly across the nose bridge—a respirator should span the distance from nose to chin—and that it doesn’t slip. Along with evaluating fit and respirator position, the wearer also should perform a seal check. If leakage is detected from a poorly fitting facepiece, he needs to try another size of the same model, or another model of respirator.
The workplace exposure level determines what constitutes an acceptable fit and which OSHA fit-test procedure is required. The two types of fit-test methods are qualitative and quantitative.
Qualitative methods rely on a subjective sensation, such as taste, irritation, or smell, to a particular test agent. These test agents include isoamyl acetate, saccharin, Bitrex®, and irritant smoke. Essentially, the wearer puts on the respirator and enters a test chamber. The test agent is then released, and the wearer must determine whether or not he can smell, taste, or feel the agent inside of the respirator during a series of defined exercises.
Quantitative methods use instruments to measure face seal leakage. These protocols are more complex and thorough because they are not dependent on the wearer observing and reporting the presence of a test agent. These protocols are:
1. Aerosol generated from corn oil, salt, or DEH: The wearer enters a test chamber that is isolated from the outside air. A sampling port or probe is inserted into the respirator, and an instrument is used to create a computer record or strip chart showing the rise and fall of the test agent concentration with each inhalation and exhalation. Whenever the concentration inside the mask exceeds 5 percent for half masks, and 1 percent for full-facepiece respirators, the test subject must be refitted and retested. The fit factor is determined by the ratio of the average chamber concentration to the concentration measured inside the respirator for a series of test exercises.
2. Condensation nuclei counter (PortaCount™). This protocol uses a probe with a special sampling device installed on the respirator that samples the air from inside the mask. A probed respirator is required for each make, style, model, and size that the employer uses. These can be obtained from the respirator manufacturer or distributor. Alternatively, the manufacturer also provides probe attachments (TSI sampling adapters) that permit fit-testing in an employee’s own respirator. A record of the test needs to be kept on file, assuming the fit-test was successful.
3. Controlled negative pressure (Dynatech FitTester 3000). This protocol measures leak rates through the facepiece of negative-pressure respirators. To perform the test, the subject closes his mouth and holds his breath, after which an air pump removes air from the respirator facepiece. The facepiece fit is the leak rate through the facepiece, expressed as milliliters per minute. CNP systems have built-in capability to conduct fit-testing that is specific to a work rate, mask, or gender.
For negative-air-pressure purifying respirators, users may rely on either a qualitative or a quantitative fit-test procedure for exposure levels less than 10 times the occupational exposure limit. An exposure level greater than 10 times the occupational exposure limit requires a quantitative fit-test procedure. Requirements for respirators used to protect wearers from certain airborne contaminants, such as asbestos, have their own special fit-test requirements.
Proposed Fit-test Requirement
OSHA’s current proposal is to include an abbreviated Bitrex qualitative fit-test in its respiratory protection program. This emphasizes that OSHA is again focusing on protection programs in workplaces where respirators are required to ensure employee safety and health.
If you need help with your Fit Testing Program, contact one of our Safety Specialists.