Training employees is a key component to the success of any organization.  When most of us think of on-the-job training, we think about teaching employees those processes and skills necessary for them to actually perform their jobs.  However, there are other areas that need to be covered when we are teaching our employees about their work conditions and work environment.  Specifically, these areas include safety and discrimination.

SAFETY

Certain industries and certain jobs specific to your organization may be required by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to conduct training in specific areas of safety.  For example, if individuals in your business are exposed to hazardous chemicals, your organization is required to develop a written hazard communication plan AND conduct training at the time of hire and annually thereafter for all employees that are exposed to those chemicals.  Similarly, if you have employees who are working with or on certain pieces of machinery, you will need to develop a process for Lockout/Tagout procedures and conduct periodic training on that topic.  Training Requirements in OSHA Standards can be downloaded from the OSHA website.

The Environmental Protection Agency also has training requirements that generally overlap with those of OSHA.  Again, depending on the nature of your business, such training could include removal and proper disposal of asbestos, Hazwoper training in compliance with the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act, which applies to generators of hazardous waste, lead safety, etc.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), have specific training requirements for commercial drivers – especially those carrying hazardous materials.

DISCRIMINATION/HARASSMENT

Some states, such as California, require annual sexual harassment training.  Even though not required in all states, it is a recommended practice that you conduct annual sexual harassment training for all employees because it provides a defense for the company in the event of a lawsuit alleging harassment.  Furthermore, this training should be expanded to include other types of harassment or discrimination including age, race, religion, national origin, etc. It is also recommended that training for the general employee population be conducted separately from the training provided to supervisors/managers.  This enables employees to ask questions and express concerns about what may be occurring in their departments.  It also allows the company to focus on its expectations of supervisors/managers and how they are expected to comply with the organization’s policy against discrimination/harassment.

OTHER

Although not required by law, it is highly recommended that your supervisors/managers be trained on various employment laws such as Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discrimination laws for your state/local area, etc.  Not only does this allow employers to set expectations for their managers/supervisors, it also helps the manager/supervisor understand why the company has implemented certain policies for compliance.

Businesses should also recognize that there may be specific training required because of the nature of your industry.  For example, health insurers and doctors’ offices have an obligation to conduct training in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) to ensure confidentiality of Protected Health Information (PHI).  Similarly, organizations involved with the maintenance, repair or operations of aircraft will need to comply with Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) training requirements.

Training is an ongoing process.  In addition to training that is required by law, employers can benefit from training in such areas as communication and time management.  These so-called “soft skills” programs can help improve morale and productivity in your organization.  Now is the ideal time to evaluate your workplace to determine what training programs will be beneficial to the organization.

Contributed by Christine Crews, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is Vice President of Human Resource Services for the Employers Association Forum, Inc. (EAF). EAF is a non-profit corporate membership-based association dedicated to serving the business and HR communities with world-class HR tools, hotlines & legal compliance, news & trends, surveys & economic data, benefits & insurance, risk management, training & consulting, and leadership & organizational development. HCCMO members receive discounted rates on all EAF classroom training at EAF’s training center in Longwood. Click here to learn more about EAF membership benefits http://eafinc.org/about-eaf/value-of-membership/.