Every employer is responsible for adhering to relevant compliance and safety regulations to cultivate a safe working environment for their staff members. However, city governments and various agencies are typically subject to more stringent municipal safety regulations. These entities must invest in municipal safety training courses, implement clear and effective policies, and proactively work to mitigate risks, to ensure compliance and protect staff members.
If you are responsible for safety and compliance for a municipal agency, you know firsthand what is at stake. You also know that navigating municipal safety regulations can be a tedious process.
If you have been looking for ways to protect your staff and create a better work environment, it’s important to have a solid understanding of why safety matters and learn how you can go beyond mere compliance.
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The Imperative of Safety Training for Municipal Employees
Whereas private organizations typically operate in a niche field, municipalities are required to maintain highly diverse workforces to accommodate the needs of their citizens.
For instance, the typical municipality will employ fire, EMS, police personnel, traditional office-based employees, energy generation professionals, field staff, refuse workers, and more. Each employee group is subject to an entirely different set of municipal safety regulations and state and federal requirements.
City leaders and department heads must create a comprehensive training strategy to maintain safety visibility across the workforce and ensure each group complies with relevant regulations.
By doing so, they can promote the workforce’s well-being and improve the efficiency of municipal operations, thereby increasing city residents’ overall quality of life.
To fully understand the imperative of safety training for city employees, decision-makers should consider three key factors: risk, compliance, and the need for comprehensive municipal safety regulations.
The Risk Factor: Why Safety Matters
While not all forms of municipal work would be classified as “risky,” most city or county employees face some level of risk each and every day. Certain groups, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and linemen, face exceptional daily risk.
Likewise, employees who work in industrial settings such as power generation or water treatment facilities are exposed to an elevated level of risk. Any employee that operates a city-owned vehicle is also at a considerably higher risk.
To ensure the safety of these individuals, your organization must implement a robust municipal training and compliance program that incorporates educational content, hands-on training exercises and established best practices.
Prioritizing safety and compliance will help you reduce the likelihood of workplace injuries, decrease the frequency of worker’s comp claims, and keep insurance costs down.
While you should be conscious of all potential dangers to your staff, three specific types of injuries tend to result in the highest costs to the organization and the most missed work time. These are motor vehicle crashes, burns, and slips or falls.
The average lost time cost of an injury caused during a motor-vehicle crash is approximately $85,311 per incident. Burns result in approximately $54,000 in lost time costs per incident, and slips or falls result in about $48,00 in total costs.
Beyond Compliance: The Benefits of Safety Training
When faced with stringent municipal safety regulations, becoming overly focused on compliance is easy.
While complying with relevant regulations is certainly important, it’s only one dimension of safety training. Investing in high-quality municipal safety training courses also offers many other benefits for your organization, its employees, and the citizens you collectively serve.
Some of the many benefits of safety training include the following:
Providing your staff with comprehensive training will boost their confidence and give them clear guidance on what they should do and how to complete their assigned tasks. When your staff is well-trained and confident in their abilities, they will get more done each day and exhibit consistently high productivity.
Reduced Accident Frequency
A seemingly minor accident can disrupt workplace productivity and pull multiple team members away from their assigned tasks. More importantly, injuries have the potential to negatively impact your staff, their family members, and their coworkers in profound and lasting ways.
When an employee misses work for a prolonged period, everyone else’s workload increases, which can erode productivity, lead to burnout or feelings of resentment, and compound the organizational costs associated with the injury. Investing in high-quality training helps reduce accident frequency and keep your team members safe.
Better Employee Morale
When you invest in employee training, your staff will know you care about their safety and well-being. In turn, they are more likely to develop feelings of trust and loyalty toward the municipality, which can help reduce attrition and absenteeism.
Additionally, a well-trained workforce will experience better morale and more confidence, which is good for the organization, staff, and the general citizenry.
Municipal Safety Regulations: More than Just Guidelines
Municipal safety regulations are designed to provide clear guidance on what employees should and should not do. However, they are more than just guidelines. Municipal safety regulations take the guesswork out of critical safety and compliance issues by informing employees’ decision-making processes.
That said, simply implementing detailed regulations is not enough. To ensure compliance, you must reinforce these regulations and upskill your staff with safety training.
Employees will be exposed to a wealth of educational and informative information during well-designed training sessions. Additionally, they can engage in collaborative and hands-on exercises that reinforce municipal safety regulations.
Spotlight on Municipal Safety Training Courses
Municipal safety training courses vary greatly in terms of scope, length, subject matter, and delivery method. That said, even though there are municipalities that do not fall under OSHA, each course should be created in accordance with relevant PESH and OSHA standards to ensure that it satisfies regulatory requirements.
The specific training courses your employees are required to attend will vary based on their role within the organization and their job responsibilities. However, there are four types of courses that all municipal employees are required to attend:
- Bloodborne pathogens
- Workplace violence
- Sexual harassment/discrimination
Specialized employees, such as those working in the public works, sewer, water, highway, public safety, or power generation sectors, will need additional safety training.
It’s important to identify which groups are required to attend what training courses to guarantee compliance and promote the safety of your staff. Additionally, you must ensure that each group is given the requisite training at the appropriate intervals.
Here are some of the more specialized training courses you may need to offer your staff, along with a few helpful tips for choosing the right courses.
Key Components of Safety Training Courses
There are dozens of different safety training courses, each of which is designed to meet particular compliance requirements and raise awareness about specific workplace hazards. Key examples include:
- Hazard identification
- Hazardous Waste and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)
- Emergency response training
- Permit-required confined spaces
- Trenching and excavation
- First aid/CPR
Some training courses must be administered once per year, whereas others must be completed biannually.
By contrast, certain courses must only be administered when a new employee joins the team or if/when the equipment an organization uses changes. The Lock-out/Tag-out safety training course is an example of a program that does not have to be administered annually.
Choosing the Right Safety Training Course
Choosing the right safety training course can be challenging due to the sheer number of options available. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of third-party municipal safety training companies, making it difficult to find the right provider for your organization.
When exploring various courses and providers, you should make it a point to consider the following factors:
Is the program designed in accordance with OSHA standards or other relevant regulatory requirements? If not, administering the course will not support your compliance efforts. Before partnering with a training services provider, verify that their offerings meet relevant design requirements regarding length, delivery method, etc.
Does the provider hold on-site municipal safety training courses or offer remote options exclusively? While remote training sessions can certainly be effective, it’s important to select a provider that can accommodate the needs of your business by offering both on-site and digital options.
Is the municipal safety training provider well-known and reputable? Leading providers will have a positive reputation and a team of experienced instructors. Conversely, a newer or lesser-known provider may have a smaller team of instructors, so they may struggle to accommodate your municipality’s training needs.
When selecting a provider, gather detailed pricing information to ensure their training costs align with the municipality’s short and long-term financial needs. By doing so, you can provide a consistent training environment for your employees, boosting the efficacy and effectiveness of each session.
Workplace Safety for Municipal Employees: A Shared Responsibility
Cultivating workplace safety for municipal employees requires a concerted effort between executive-level managers, line-level supervisors, and the workers themselves.
Together, these three groups can ensure adherence to municipal safety regulations, reduce the likelihood of injuries, and get everyone home safe at the end of each workday.
With that goal in mind, let us dive deeper into the roles of both management personnel and the individual employee in safety culture.
The Role of Managers and Supervisors
Managers and supervisors must promote compliance and safety culture by setting a good example for their subordinates. Furthermore, supervisory staff must encourage their teams to adhere to relevant safety guidelines and apply lessons learned during training sessions.
Perhaps most importantly, managerial staff are tasked with enforcing safety protocols and levying consequences for non-compliance, such as requiring violators to attend retraining.
The Individual Employee’s Part
Individuals can promote workplace safety by being attentive during safety training sessions. Employees must also apply the lessons learned during these sessions and stringently follow all safety protocols while performing their duties. They should also report any hazards they observe to their supervisors so they can be remedied.
Building a Safer Municipal Work Environment
The importance of workplace safety for municipal employees cannot be overstated.
Making safety a priority across your municipal agency can lead to increased productivity, reduced risk of injury, better employee morale, and a safer work environment for all.
Cultivating a safe, compliant, and productive municipal work environment can be challenging, especially if your internal safety and compliance teams are already stretched thin.
To augment the capabilities of your internal teams and expedite the path to a safer workplace, consider investing in comprehensive training programs and partnering with an experienced third-party provider like Alpha Omega Training and Compliance.
AOTC offers a variety of on-site municipal safety training courses to help you achieve compliance, elevate your staff’s knowledge, and achieve your organizational safety goals.