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Safety Training: What's the Difference?

November 20, 2013

It does not matter which regulatory agency governs the rules you follow, as the concepts are universal.  For example, OSHA has a requirement that Forklift Operators be “Certified”.  Conversely MSHA says if you drive a forklift in a gravel pit, you need to be “Task Trained”.  Technically there are differences in each approach.  OSHA lists very specific truck and workplace topics that must be trained to the operator as they apply (formal instruction).  This is coupled with practical training and a performance evaluation.  MSHA gives no such specifics for formal instruction in this scenario, but adds "practice under the close observation of a competent person may be used to fulfill the requirement for task training."121681970

Whether you believe a more formal type of instruction is better or a, “learn as you go” style is more appropriate, the concept is the same.  The end result needs to be a competent operator. If we compare these two styles to the process of a 15 or 16 year old getting their driver’s license, we see the formal instruction, followed by the supervised practice and then the evaluation.  Again, the end result needs to be competent operators. 

These differences in philosophy between MSHA, OSHA, and the DMV seem to mirror the differences between individual people.  If you were at home, and were challenged with disassembling the top half of your car engine to save $1000 in labor costs, you would likely do it one of a few different ways.  Some would trust their mechanical aptitude, and dive right in.  Others would buy a repair manual and study the procedure before touching a single bolt.  And still others would find a clip on YouTube showing you how to do it, while sharing personal do’s and don’ts discovered during the many trials and errors committed by the expert being filmed.

Whereas the “practice while doing”, with the support of a competent person well versed in the task at hand, might be the most agreed upon approach between the examples above, the fact remains that many people will choose the “dive right in” approach.  These Maverick types might feel that their years of accumulated knowledge have prepared them for the task at hand.  It is only after the bloody knuckles, stripped bolts, and frustrating errors that they eventually go back to the knowledge source (hopefully).  Unfortunately in the workplace the results can be far worse, and possibly fatal. 

You should not have to lose a finger, or worse, to realize that your SafetyDNA has been written over the last few decades of your life.  Once you realize this, you can then attempt to override it for the next few decades to come.

Our Guest Blogger this week is Terry Weston, CSP, CMSP who is a workplace safety consultant for South Central College.  He has developed and delivered countless training sessions in the areas of OSHA and MSHA.  He also presents at national conferences across the nation in the areas of training materials, delivery, and retention.


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