Strategies for hazard control and prevention for assuring every working employee is safe, healthful conditions of the workplace consider training as an axiomatic part of the efforts to emphasis the point, Worker training on safety and health requirement are found in many occupational safety and health standards that have been promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Certain job assignments are limited to individuals judged to be competent by getting a specialised training. However, training provisions merits in worksite hazard control regulations and efforts for controlling hazards in general has not been without any questions. In some instances, trainings has been reported to be infected in reduction of the disabilities that are work related (Linnemann, et al., 1991; Snook, Campanelli & Hart, 1978; Tan et al., 1991).
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Moreover, a review by Hale (1984) has raised concerns about the safety training programs worth at the work place. In his argument, Hale (1984) pointed out that shortcomings in training could reflect application of instructional techniques that are inadequate, or situational factors confounding learning objectives or its processes. However, more importantly, the idea that training is exempt somehow from demands of accountability of its business operations is not tenable. Additionally, in appreciating that training rules adherence imposes extra costs on the employers who are responsible and also extra burden to the workers to, understanding the factors that has ability of influencing training efforts success world be particularly important. Indeed, it can be argued that bad or faulty training may result to worse consequences compared to no training at all.
These were the issues that prompted the need for this literature review. The purpose originally conceived for this literature review was to address two major questions:
- Can the training requirements of occupational safety and health (OS&H) be shown to be effective truly in reduction of injuries and illness that are related to work?
- Does evidence point out certain characteristics or elements of training program as having most positive effects on safety and health of a worker?
To answer these questions, the approaches to be employed may appear to be straightforward, for instance;
- Searching the literatures for the reports on how applicable OSHA training requirements were implemented by employers and the related change in their disease experience and work injury
- Locate sources of data that compares the nature and extent of OS&H training given to the workers who got diseases or injuries that are related to work, with the workers who have not but are in similar work situations or occupations
- Analyses the practices on safety and health training of the employers who have exemplary programs for controlling injuries or diseases and contrast them with the employers who have the worst performance but comparable workforce size r makeup, job operations and other factors at the workplace.
This literature review noted that the literature existing only satisfies these approaches partially. For instance, the reports on compliance efforts with the OSHA training rules are few, and the most common in the literature are studies on training that target problems that are site specific, that may not or may be covered by regulation. Indications of safer procedures of work, Attitude change, knowledge gain being adopted by the workers are used frequently in measuring the impact of training. Fewer studies noted reduced disease or injuries outcomes from training, and were they report, they are very cautious in drawing the conclusions of the cause effects. Epidemiological studies results of the occupational disease and injury may suggests that shortcomings of the trainings as contributing factors but lack evidence of baseline data to support such claims. Additionally, evaluation of the OS&H training practices or certain instructional methods merits as provided in the literature may not be to always separate effects that are specific to training from other factors of workplace. In many instances also, collection of data for evaluation of worksite training purposes of evaluation may not follow sound principles of study design always.
The broad perspective of safety and health training
Basic thrusts of programs
OS&H training involves instructing the workers to recognise the hazards that are known and using methods available for protection. In contrast, Education of workers prepares an individual to deal with the unforeseen problems or the potential hazards. Guidance is provided in a way that makes the worker to be better informed and in seeking actions that are aimed in eliminating the hazards. the explanation by the report of the 1985 Office of technology Assessment (OTA) on how to prevent injury and illnesses in the workplace, distinction between education programs and worker trainings is often blurred and majorly depends on the responsibilities that the workers are expected to assume during process. OTA (1985, p. 189) stated that the narrower the responsibility, the more training instructions, the broader the responsibility, the more education instructions. This literature review draws much of the information on the reference of narrower training, but approaches of worker education are also acknowledged.
The report of OTA included analysis of forty worker education and worker training programs conducted by trade associations, business firms, hospitals and universities, unions, and OS&H groups’ coalitions. The analysis of the objectives and activities suggested four types of programs: recognition, fundamental, empowerment, and problem-solving programs.
Fundamental programs-these involve instruction to prevent injury and illness that are work related through proper use of maintenance equipment, tools, materials; emerge procedures knowledge, medical monitoring needs, measures of personal hygiene, and use of personal protective equipment in operations that are non-routine, or as an interim safeguard before implementation of the engineering controls
Recognition programs– these includes instructions programs that emphasise awareness of the hazards at the workplace; knowledge of the hazard elimination methods or control; recognizing toxic exposures symptoms; understanding laws of right to know and ways of collecting information on hazards of the workplace; and observing and reporting potential hazards or hazards to the relevant bodies. OSHA (1983) indicated that the training activities of recognition programs were largely spurred by the OSHA Hazard communication standard which required employers to inform their workers of the potential or the chemical hazards in their areas of world and means of reducing its risks.
Problem solving programs-this involve instructions that are aimed to giving the workers’ skills and information that enable them to participate in recognition of hazards and the control activities; to use management and union means; to help in identifying and solving problems through teams works; and to exercise their rights of allowing outside agencies to investigate hazards at the workplace when warranted. Lin & Cohen (1983) stated that inviting the input of the workers in the planning of the company or in designing of the new operations is recognized in business as a viable means of improving quality of products, productivity and motivation of workers. Applying this approach in control of hazards is reasonable especially given that workers possess an intimate hazards knowledge, owing to their job work experience every day and they could be a rich source for the company’s corrective ideas.
Empowerment programs-these provides instructions of building and broadening skills of workers in recognition of hazard and skills of problem solving. However, emphasis is on activism of the workers with the objective of ensuring that their rights to a workplace that us free from illness and injury (Wallerstein & Baker, 1994). Therefore, the program aims at enabling the employees in effecting control measures that are necessary through educating supervisors and co-workers, and through use of safety/health contract negotiations or committee process
Effectiveness of occupational safety and health training data
The nature of the literature review
This literature review sought relevant empirical information to evaluating whether OS&H training as dictated by the standards of OSHA had any beneficial impacts in reduction of the world related illnesses and injury risks, and factors that were particularly critical to the successful efforts of training. The following documentation types were specifically sought:
- Study reports where interventions of trainings were used for the purposes of reducing risks of workers of workplace disease or injury and evaluative data gotten to show their importance. Reference accounted for the undertaken training programs at specific jobsites, efforts of implementation rules of OSHA training rules by affected groups or users and laboratory studies that has training simulators.
- Investigative or survey reports offering training data or lacking, as well as other contributing factors to work related fatalities, injuries and health problems
- Occupational safety and health program practices reports for employers having exemplary health/safety performance to isolate the factors of training that may have contributed to their success
- Other relevant studies in the learning/education field or the ancillary areas dealing with issues particularly pertinent to effective training of OS&H.
In regards to item 1 and 4, the literature review confined itself to the reports describing training objectives and plans, methods of evaluation, manner of implementation, and results/data reflecting effectiveness. Consideration were not made on articles that offer testimonials to different approaches to training, or anecdotal references. Item 2 covered the results from the survey of person’s questionnaires having particular type of injuries of work and investigative workplace incidents reports where workers were killed, injured or found exhibiting health problems. In both cases, the intent was to look into any training references in appreciating how and why the event producing injury or occurrence of the health problem. Item 3examined analytical information on program practices of a company, particularly worker training aspects that were related to their hazard control success.
The tapped data sources
The search strategy adopted by the literature review made use of the database of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSHTIC) which covers a wide range of literature on OS&H, in addition to other computerized reference systems that are online, and abstract listings for the available specialty areas through Information Services of DIALOGUE, and the National Institute of Medicine MEDLARS System. Furthermore, relevant citation searches in specialty areas tapes applied psychology databases (such as psychINFO, psychSCAN), social sciences (such as social research), education (such as ERIC), occupation/industry/trade issues (such as Trade &Industry ASAP, AGRICOLA), health administration and planning (such as MEDLASRS/HEALTH), specific health problems/topics (TOXLIT, TOXLINE, CANCERLIT) among others.
In the course of searching, a total of 25 various reference systems were scanned. The multidisciplinary nature, uniqueness of indexing systems and use of training concepts used with the different sources of information made it impractical for a single list of keywords. In most cases, the review had to devise list of specific terms of database that are customized, and made up of a common or a root word in combination with the search terms that are free-text which had proximal connection to the keyword for search. Some of the sample terms for the MEDLARS database included risk management, program evaluation, evaluation n studies, and attitude to health, in-service training, dangerous behavior, and patient compliance among others. Moreover, titles searches trough different databases were done while varying keywords mix constantly and free-text in a round-robin fashion essentially. This produced over 2000 listings citations which after eliminating false hits, deleting duplicates was reduced to about 700 titles. References and abstracts to these reports in other review yielded less than 150 to satisfy one of the earlier noted four requirements for selection
The drawn references from the search efforts were majorly from the period of 1980 to 2014 though it was also supplemented by earlier studies that were believed to be cogent to the issues of training evaluation in some cases. The review’s final selection represented five different categories of hazard agents which included:
- Toxic materials and chemicals
- Injury producing forces
- Ergonomic stressors
- Harmful physical agents
- Infectious/biological agents
The five agent conditions were selected to reflect recognized exposure risks that are work related in different ways by current standards of OSHA or those under development.