MADISON, WIS. – The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) unveiled Oct. 10 new employee safety trainings and tools for dairy processors.

Accessible through the organization's website, newly uploaded free resources include a library of regulatory references, safety plan templates, and materials that cover such topics as combustible dust, personal protective equipment, noise protection and hazardous energy control.

WCMA said it is rolling out new resources that focus on keeping team members safe as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues its focus on food processors through local emphasis programs.

“Dairy processors know that a robust safety culture is critical both to their regulatory compliance and to the well-being of their workforce,” said Rebekah Sweeney, WCMA’s senior director of programs and policy. “That means frequently assessing and adjusting safety protocols, investing in safety equipment, and dedicating time and effort to employee training.”

Coinciding with the debut of its new online resources, WCMA announced it is offering two new training programs, one designed to further educate dairy processing safety trainers and another that provides basic safety instruction to dairy processors.

The organization’s “Train the Safety Trainer” course, Sweeney said, is geared toward a processor’s workplace trainers and environmental health leads – “people who already understand the importance of safety on the job but are tasked with the responsibility of impressing that knowledge on others.”

She added: “Our goal is to boost their skills as educators and to give them tools to provide more effective on-site instruction – while also helping them build a peer network in our industry.”

The one-day course, to be offered in-person at WCMA’s training center in Madison, Wis., on Dec. 12, and virtually on Jan. 30, 2024, will be taught with an interactive approach that covers best practices for successful workforce safety trainers. WCMA shared that attendees “should have a strong grasp on industry safety practices already,” and the course will emphasize training tied to OSHA’s local emphasis programs.

Per WCMA, professionals who take the course will be able to conduct a training needs assessment, evaluate their training programs for clarity and efficacy, handle environmental challenges and pick up several other pertinent skills.

The other course, “Basic Safety Training for Dairy Processing Workers,” covers employee rights, employer responsibilities, and identifying, abating and avoiding job-related hazards.

Designed specifically for dairy processors, the course will highlight crucial safety strategies connected to OSHA’s food processor local emphasis programs, such as machine guarding, lockout/tagout, prevention of slips, trips and falls, and chemical controls.

“Great as part of an onboarding program for new employees or as a refresher for industry veterans, our partner instructors from Chippewa Valley Technical College will ensure your staff understand the importance of safety protocols in your plant, how to execute those protocols, and when to alert you to a problem,” Sweeney said.

WCMA is offering the course six times in 2024, with both in-person (April 9, June 4 and Oct. 15) and virtual options (Feb. 20, May 14 and Sept. 24).

Registration for the courses and more details are available online at WCMA’s website.