Even if employees understand the theoretical risks of handling hazardous materials, it doesn’t necessarily mean they fully appreciate just how sensitive and dangerous the process can be. Training hazmat employees requires repetition, attention to detail and a feedback system that allows employers to confirm that individuals are ready before conferring responsibilities. Embracing a culture of safety and individual responsibility throughout all levels of the company can help cement these principles in daily operations.
Start with General Concerns
Any employee that handles or works near hazardous materials should understand the basic principles of hazmat protocol. General awareness education builds a common vocabulary and perspective among the workforce, which helps them communicate and understand safety needs with each other. It also underlines the dangers presented by these materials and the necessity of a safety-oriented process.
Emphasize Risk Recognition and Management
No matter their role in the production or handling process, all employee training should emphasize the ability to recognize threats, manage risks and respond appropriately in a crisis situation. Employees should know how to identify signs and labels for hazmat containers as well as recognize unsafe handling conditions of dangerous materials in the workplace. They also need to know how to use protective gear and what their role or response should be if an accident threatens worker safety.
Provide Role-Specific Education
While there are plenty of obvious benefits to having trained and qualified employees, there’s also limits on how much education employers can reasonably provide during the onboarding process. That’s why companies also need to carefully select specialized training for individual employees who face role-specific concerns, like couriers who regularly perform transportation and delivery. Employers can develop their workforce further by incorporating educational programs from external training providers, like High Q.
Test and Mentor After Training
Training should always include an examination or exit process that ensures participants have all the knowledge, skills and experience they need to work safely. Written or verbal questions are a common way to gauge understanding of theory, but companies should also consider connecting new workers with mentors and providing extensive hands-on training. These measures may make the recruiting and training process a little more difficult, but they are invaluable for employers who want to avoid a costly and dangerous workplace disaster.
Companies should never underestimate the need for education and training when it comes to preparing hazmat employees for a new job. Even experienced team members can benefit from a refresher course every few years and should always take the time to learn about new equipment, processes or materials brought into the workplace.
Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. You can connect with Anica on Twitter @AnicaOaks.