Training to Avoid Injury

Expanding availability of safety training materials is good for workers and employers.

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Safety should be a top concern on any job site. Sadly, it sometimes slips down the priority list.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that workers in the construction industry regularly incur among the highest rates of fatalities of any industry in the private sector. In 2010, nearly five out of every 1,000 plumbing contractors suffered a workplace injury. Numbers like this are constantly thrown around, so it can be easy to develop a casual attitude toward them, but they still underscore the importance of proper and ongoing safety training.

Safety training is critical in this industry. Workers need to know how to properly handle potentially dangerous situations and how to respond when those situations aren't being handled properly. But training is yet another time-consuming endeavor. It's not up to employees if they receive training, but they often play a big role in how safety measures are carried out on job sites. And since training grows awareness, the more training workers get, the more likely they may be to point out and help correct safety issues on the job site, and that's good for everyone.

Luckily, training opportunities have expanded immensely in recent years, making it easier to get quality materials in convenient ways and to keep workers safe. The OSHA website offers DVDs and other training materials that make it easy for cleaning companies to provide high-quality training opportunities for employees. Topics include confined space entry, excavation and trenching, eye protection, bloodborne pathogens and much more. Each training package includes a 20-minute safety video on DVD and a CD-Rom containing a program outline, quiz, training log, site-specific information and a PowerPoint presentation manual in both English and Spanish. Packages cost $125, but streamlined $99.95 packages are also available.

OSHA's HAZWOPER series of training programs for the handling of hazardous materials – including sewage – includes 23 separate packages targeted at specific topics such as decontamination, emergency response plans and respiratory protection. Each individual package costs $195, which is paltry compared to the cost of any accident.

The WaterJet Technology Association and the Industrial & Municipal Cleaning Association ( also offer a variety of training materials specifically targeted to the safe and proper operation of waterjet and vacuum equipment. And these aren't the only sources for safety training. Websites like,, and all offer safety instruction and training options, and there are many other sites offering tips and news that can serve as springboards to tailgate talks about job site safety.

The takeaway is that safety training shouldn't be something employees spend a few hours on when they are hired. It should be constant and ongoing in order to create a culture of safety, and these outlets all provide inexpensive and convenient options to keep the topic of safety at the top of everyone's priority list.


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