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The Value of a Safety and Health Training Matrix

By John Baker, Total Safety Certified Industrial Hygienist

For Industrial Safety and Health Training, Go Total SafetyTraining provides the foundation for protecting the safety and health and improving the well being of workers worldwide. This is recognized by the emphasis placed on training in modern Safety, Health and Environmental management systems standards such as the Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – Requirements (OHSAS 18001:2007) developed by the British Standards Institution which specifically requires that “(t)he organization shall identify training needs associated with its OH&S risks…”

A training matrix is a planning and communication tool used by safety and health professionals and managers to keep track of an organization’s training needs. It can take many forms as long as it clearly shows what types of training are required for various job positions or specific employees. A manager can then quickly find the required training without sorting through paragraphs of regulations or company policies and procedures. This tool is also useful for scheduling training and allocating resources. A training matrix can also be used for employee evaluation and to support a corrective action plan for an employee or to improve organizational compliance with a governmental regulation or company policy, highlighting the new training that must be done by a specific date.

A training matrix is often designed as an electronic spreadsheet. Rows and columns are created with headers such as job position or employee name, specific training topic, training dates, and other useful information. Typically a training matrix would include a separate column for initial orientation on company safety and health policy and procedures, and for refresher training on these topics, in addition to training required by governmental agencies such as the US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and their state and local counterparts.

For example, typical OSHA training requirements for general industry include: employee emergency and fire prevention plans; hearing and respiratory protection; fire extinguishers, powered industrial trucks; and hazard communication. OSHA standards regarding specific chemicals such as asbestos, benzene, lead and hexavalent chromium have very detailed training requirements.  Of course, there are numerous important safety and health topics such as heat stress, proper lifting and office ergonomics for which OSHA does not have a standard, and these topics should be added to the training matrix as well.

First, fill in the left hand column with the job positions and names of the employees who should be trained. Next, each topic can be used to fill out its own column on the training matrix. The last step is to place an “x” or use a specific color code to indicate which training topics by column need to be scheduled and completed by that employee. For each training topic, one might even split up the column into sub-columns to indicate dates initial and refresher training completed, and pass/fail status.

OSHA has provided an excellent brochure highlighting specific training requirements (as of 1998) on their web-site at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/2254.html.  Of course, the manager should check the current OSHA regulations for updated requirements.

A training matrix, while informative and self-explanatory, should not be used as a substitute for hands-on management. A manager should still meet with employees and explain the requirements and the reason behind them.

For additional information on safety and health training, contact us at 888.44.TOTAL.