Training, instruction, and communication
Training is a critical part of any occupational health and safety program. Workers have the right to know how to work safely, and training helps them avoid injury and stay safe on the job. Employers benefit from increased productivity and reduced work-related injuries – both of which can be costly. Training is a shared responsibility involving workers, supervisors, and managers.
Every new worker, and workers changing roles, must have adequate training before starting work and when new, unfamiliar tasks are assigned. There are many ways to conduct training, including:
- in-house training onsite
- onsite or virtual training provided by a third party
- off-site training
- online training
- one-to-one training with a mentor
Identify the training needs for each person and task. Assign tasks based on your worker's abilities and training to perform each task. It's also important to follow up with workers and ensure that they can demonstrate safe work procedures, understand safety policies, and perform their assigned tasks safely and responsibly.
All policy communication or training must be documented, including date and time, topics covered, attendance, and comments or concerns brought forward.
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (section 3.23) outlines what to include in employee orientation. New employee orientation should happen when the worker is hired and include the following:
- Name and contact information for the new worker’s supervisor
- Legal rights and responsibilities, including reporting unsafe conditions and the right to refuse unsafe work
- Workplace health and safety rules
- Potential hazards – including risks from robbery, assault, or confrontation
- Working alone or in isolation
- Violence in the workplace
- Personal protective equipment
- Fire exit routes and the marshalling area
- Location of first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and other health and safety equipment
- How to report an accident, illness, or injury
- Emergency procedures
- Safety procedures and policies related to their role and tasks they will be performing
- Information on the company OHS program requirements
- Training for any hazardous materials in the workplace (WHMIS)
- Contact information for the Worker Health and Safety Representative
Following a health and safety orientation, give each worker a copy of the program and advise them of their rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation.
If an occupational health and safety policy or regulation changes significantly, workers must be retrained on the new policy or procedure.
Job specific training
New employees (or existing employees transferred to a new job) must be trained in the standard operating procedures for their job. They should be asked to sign off on the procedures to indicate that they understand the requirements. Keep the signed copy on file and provide another copy to the worker.
Training should be ongoing and address any new equipment or procedures as they are introduced or updated. When a worker is assigned a new duty, ensure that they receive training to carry out their new duties safely.
Other ongoing training and certification may be required for specific roles and tasks such as first aid attendants or forklift operators.
To assess your training needs, conduct a training needs assessment. Start by reviewing the Worker’s Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
Train Worker Health and Safety Representatives to enable them to effectively conduct their assigned legal duties and functions.
Review your standard operating procedures with your employees as needed, but at least once per year.
Supervisors play an important role in the implementation and success of your occupational health and safety program. It’s critical that they have adequate training to enable them to fulfill their health and safety responsibilities. At a minimum, supervisors should be training in the following:
- Interpretation and use of the Workers Compensation Act, Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, and standards
- Risks associated with the tasks performed at your worksite and the procedures and safe work practices to control these hazards
- How to investigate accidents and take action to prevent a recurrence.
- Basics of health and safety communication
- How to conduct inspections
Supervisors are also responsible for maintaining accurate records or due diligence. Records can include (but are not limited to):
- Safe work plans
- Inspection reports
- Orientation records
- Toolbox Talk meetings
- Incident investigations
- Employee corrective action
- Weekly safety meetings
- First aid reports
- Competency exams
Clear communication is an essential part of a healthy and safe work environment. One of the best ways to prevent workplace injuries and enhance safety is to improve health and safety communication.
- When possible, provide instructions and related materials in the first language of your workers.
- Use symbols, photos, and illustrations to support written communication.
- Repeat critical information in multiple ways – face-to-face, documents, emails, meetings, etc.
- Ask for feedback. Communication is most effective when it is two-way.
- Use mentors – pair more experienced workers with new employees or workers who are changing their roles.
All workers must have access to information on their health and safety on the job. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Their rights and responsibilities under the Workers Compensation Act
- Health and safety policies and procedures related to the tasks of their job
- Hazards they may face in their duties and how to mitigate them
- How to get first aid or other assistance in an emergency
- Where to access health and safety information
- How to report injury or illness
Health and safety training support
Need help with your health and safety training? We have many OHS training options available including online courses, instructor-led training (virtual and in-person), and customized training for your workplace.