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Article # 6101

Beyond Providing Protective Equipment: How to Step Up Safety Through Comprehensive Training Programs

When representatives from manufacturing and engineering divisions at a major ladder manufacturer conducted an extensive study of noise levels in their manufacturing facilities, they decided they needed better protection for their workers. Although this manufacturer of ladders provided earplugs for its workers, both for professional and home use, the company didn't have a mandatory policy.

"It can get very noisy in our plants," says Diane Lawrey, MRO buyer. "We had some equipment that is old - it works fine, but it was made back when hearing protection wasn't the issue it is today. We also use rivets and saws and there's continual pounding on steel - it's loud!" Lawrey set out to find a comprehensive program that would provide education as well as protection. She turned to Magid for help.

"We already had a safety program with Magid, so it made sense to go to them to help us with this area," Lawrey says. "We still looked at other suppliers, but Magid had the best price, and was able to offer us much more than price - and value added services such as their comprehensive training program."

Similarly, Dan Blain, maintenance supervisor for an electrical power cooperative, a state electric utility, is committed to providing seminars and other programs for employees to keep them informed on safety issues and personal protective equipment. Recently, when the provider that usually conducts seminars for his employees was unable to deliver, Blain turned to Magid for assistance. "I had seen a Magid presentation at a state-wide program earlier and had been very impressed with the caliber of the people and the contents of the program," says Blain. "So, when I needed someone to help us with an educational seminar, I knew who to call."

The Magid Safety Solution: Customized, Comprehensive Training
At the ladder manufacturer, Magid conducted a comprehensive training program on the importance of hearing protection and the proper way to wear protective equipment. According to Lawrey, the program had a large impact on awareness. "We all noticed how loud it really is everywhere - not only in the plant," she says. "The training focused on conglomerate noise, how noises join together, pitches get high and they sting your ears.

We all also noticed how noisy the world around us is. I think we went home from the training much more aware of noise levels in our everyday lives."

The program, which lasted a week, was a great success. "Everyone in the plants and the offices were required to attend the sessions. We had three days of training here in the main facility," explains Lawrey, "one day at our satellite plant and another at our sister company. We were very impressed that Magid had videos in Spanish too, since we have a number of Spanish-speaking employees here and at the other locations."

For the electric utility, Magid's day-long seminar covered both hearing and respiratory safety. The hearing portion of the program focused on how hearing loss occurs, what to do to protect yourself and how to properly fit gear. "Our operations personnel are out in the field every day, facing a variety of loud noises," explains Blain. "It could be large trucks or other loud noises on the road. Or it might be our own equipment, like backhoes, chain saws and jack hammers. We measure the noise level of the job, tell the workers what to wear and provide the necessary equipment - whatever the environment calls for. The seminar helped to reinforce the value of the policy and the need to wear the specific equipment designed to protect employees in specific situations."

The focus of the respiratory part of the program was on fitting the equipment. "Fitting is the key element for respiratory protection," says Blain. "If you're wearing improperly fitted equipment, it's of absolutely no value. We have different needs for different duties here, just as in hearing protection. One big area where workers need protection is painting. We also have to protect workers against dusty conditions in the field or dirt from digging. Our workers are outside everyday dealing with the elements."

During the seminar, employees were taught how to inspect their equipment, clean and fit it. "They're responsible for caring for their own equipment," explains Blain. "We want to make sure they are well trained to maintain their own equipment - and to help ensure their own safety."

Putting Training Into Practice
Blain at the electric utility was very pleased with the Magid program. "Let's face it," he says. "It's difficult to make earplugs and face masks into a really interesting topic. But Magid's team managed to do just that. Our workers were very attentive. Most importantly, they learned a lot of valuable information that will protect them on the job."

Lawrey from the ladder manufacturer concurs. "Until this program was instituted, we just had a basic disposable earplug for our employees. Magid's training pointed out how important it was to have different choices to meet different needs. Our policy is that everyone must wear earplugs in the plants and warehouses. So now we have re-usable earplugs, ear bands, ear muffs and disposable ear plugs. We even have earplugs that come in a carrying case. They're great for office personnel who are in and out of the plants; they can carry them around with them. With Magid's solutions, our new program means there's no reason to be without hearing protection."

"Training is something we do routinely here," Blain adds. "It's a preventative measure on our part. Seminars provide refreshers for seasoned employees and valuable new information for recently hired employees. Everyone learned something at the Magid program. They focused on the value of hearing and respiratory equipment, learned about the different applications for equipment and were trained in how to fit and care for their own equipment. It was time well spent."