There really is no right answer to this question. The merits of safety training are highly subjective. There are three perspectives to look at when considering the depth of safety training to provide:
1. Legal requirements,
2. Industry requirements, and
3. Your moral conscience
Legal requirements are horribly vague on overall safety training. Here in Alberta, the OH&S regulations barely mention safety training. Section 15 merely states that employees should be trained on "equipment" and "harmful substances", with the latter being an almost complete overlap with WHMIS. OH&S legislation in each province relies heavily on "principles" and "due diligence". You develop your safety programs (including training) according to the principles, then if anything goes wrong, you must prove you were diligent in satisfying the requirements, based on what your industry peers would be reasonably expected to do.
So that leads us to the next consideration; industry requirements. Certain industries, such as oil and gas, or construction, have industry associations which provide guidance in the form of "Industry Recommended Practices" or IRP's. Enform is one of the most thorough at fulfilling this role. On safety training specifically, they've written IRP 16, which they call Basic Safety Awareness Training. At SafetySync, we like this document so much, we essentially used their Appendix C as a roadmap for developing our inventory of safety training courses. The problem is, with this strategy, we've now accumulated over 120 lessons, which total 26 hours of training, and we still have a few of the more obscure topics to go!
26 hours of safety training does seem at first like an awful lot. Especially with Enform's own Petroleum Safety Training (or PST as it is often called) running at about 6 hours. Why the big difference? As it turns out, some of the items in Enform's IRP 16 Appendix C are barely
covered by their own Petroleum Safety Training. For example, PST conveniently leaves out Transportation of Dangerous Goods, which on its own runs a good 3 hours or more. How can they leave TDG out and just brush on a few other topics listed in Appendix C? Section 16.8.2 of IRP 16 (Program Content) basically states that "a worker's orientation may include only those topics relevant to the company's operations
". Enform made a judgment call and decided TDG and other topics were not worthy of going into too much detail, and rubber-stamped their own training system regardless of the shortcoming.
Does that mean that if you work in oil and gas, you can just buy the $2,000 PST CD-ROM and be done with it?*
It depends if your moral conscience will allow it. There are many more hazards in your line of work besides those touched-on in PST. And there is considerably more knowledge pertaining to those hazards that might help your workers remain safe. Up until recently though, there was no cost effective way of providing that information to employees. Some large companies, like Precision Drilling and Trican incur tremendous expense to bring all their employees to a centralized location for 5 days (40 hours!) of safety orientation and training. In most cases though, employers and safety professionals counted on supervisors to fill in the blanks. But if you choose the latter route, can you prove the training took place? And can you be sure your workers have been given the safety knowledge they need, especially with today's mobile workforce?
Fortunately, with the advent of online safety training, this extensive knowledge is readily available, and can be disseminated to anyone, at any time. Some providers (like SAFETYSYNC
) allow safety managers to pick and choose which lessons to provide each position within their organization. In other words, you can leave out the lessons on Asbestos and Silica Dust if your workers never encounter those hazards. With the right tweaking, you can probably pare 26 hours of training down to about 15. And if your workers have access to the internet at the job site, they can take their training during slow periods while they wait for cement to harden or paint to dry.
So, to answer the question... You should provide your employees with safety training on any topic that is relevant to their work. This approach will satisfy legal, industry and your own moral obligations. Fortunately, with advanced online training systems
, you can now do this easily, and without breaking the bank!
*NOTE: If your moral conscience allows you to provide just enough training to satisfy the requirements, and cost-savings is your primary objective, there is an even cheaper alternative to PST. Enform granted equivalency to the Construction Safety Training System (CSTS), which only takes about 3 and a half hours, and runs about $45 per person. Buyer beware though; it is not an online training solution, and like PST, it does not
cover all the elements listed in IRP 16 Appendix C.