Businesses owners, safety managers and workers may not always feel comfortable assessing hazards on the job site. Sometimes this is because hazards aren’t easy to see, employees may not feel adequately trained in hazard identification or correcting hazards can be expensive.
To help solve this problem, OSHA has created a Hazard Identification Training Tool, which is an online game that gives employers and workers practice with identifying hazards in the workplace. When most people think about video games, they probably do not think of OSHA. OSHA’s new tool, however, is interactive and provides practical, nearly hands-on experience.
“Hazard identification is a critical part of creating an injury and illness prevention program that will keep workers safe and healthy on the job,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, in a press release about the game. “This new tool not only educates employers about how to take control of their workplaces and protect workers, it also demonstrates that following well-established safety practices is also good for the bottom line.”
How the Game Works
The game contains three scenarios for players. The first is called “OSHA Visual Inspection Training” and presents the player with one of four situations to inspect: a saw, a mixer, scaffolding or fall protection. The player can view the machine or workspace from all angles, talk with the employee working at the workstation and become familiar with how to identify hazards related to common situations in the workplace.
Once a player has mastered visual inspection training, he or she can move on to scenarios involving an entire workplace. In OSHA’s manufacturing scenario, users get a bird’s-eye view of the facility and can play as either a business owner or worker. The business owner mode requires the player to balance costs and fix workplace hazards. Players must decide how much time to spend making money and how much to spend fixing safety problems. If an accident occurs, the company will lose profits. This scenario helps users learn to manage the hazards and finances of an industrial worksite over an extended period of time, which is important for safety managers.
Alternatively, players can select to identify hazards as members of the company’s safety committee. Users will learn to inspect and observe equipment, ask pertinent questions of employees and even consult information sources like SDSs and manuals to help identify hazards.
The third scenario—set at a construction site—functions similarly to the manufacturing scenario, but users must also keep the workplace safe over three phases of a construction job involving the building of a retail center, from the laying of the foundation and the raising of walls all the way to the final nail being driven into the roof.
Each of the game’s modes lets users tackle specific safety hazards by inspecting the details of machinery, process procedures and workers’ habits. While inspecting a mixer, for example, a user would learn to detect whether the machine has guards, ramps and covers and whether the employee operating it uses proper PPE such as ear protection or gloves.
If you think you or your workers would benefit from this type of interactive training, visit OSHA’s website where you can play the game for free (users may need to download a free plug in).