Column Safety Training Training Workforce

View Training As an Investment

EP Editorial Staff | March 1, 2021

If your company culture treats training as a necessary evil, your employees will disengage and the education will likely fail.

By Ryan Dobbins, CSP, CHST, CIT, CUSP

Whether you’re the highest ranking official or the lowest level technician in an organization, everyone needs training to be successful. Training can provide important information for safety and health, production, or simply operational tasks. Unfortunately, many organizations want training completed as quickly as possible to cut down on time and expense. Safety and health training should not be viewed as a requirement, but rather an investment in your team members, your safety program, and your organization as a whole.

To begin with, consider that training is the best way to set employees up to be successful and avoid injuries because the intent should be to acquire new or enhanced skills, knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes in the workplace. Since training sessions are often viewed as a requirement by organizations, that culture will trickle down to your employees. As a result, they often become disengaged from the content because leadership makes it an obligation.

The design and delivery of your training content can help change that culture by knowing your audience and focusing on adult-learning techniques. Training should be designed and delivered to meet your audience’s needs and organized to identify learning objectives. Depending on your organization, choose various training delivery methods to understand how your employees learn. Some examples include instructor-led/lecture, virtual classroom, self-paced learning, and interactive and/or on-the-job training.

No matter what method(s) works best in your organization, always ensure trainers include these key steps:

• Provide the information with positive communication techniques.

• Demonstrate skills or knowledge in a real-world scenario.

• Evaluate and test trainee knowledge for proficiency.

• Perform a gap analysis to determine opportunities for improvement and feedback.

Adults learn best when the content is related to them personally and they have an opportunity to practice with hands-on exercises.

Since training should be used to set employees up for success, it’s essential that the training program is regularly monitored for effectiveness. Using jobsite safety observations or other leading indicators can help management determine whether the training was effective. When employees fail to demonstrate specific skills or competencies they learned in a training course, they should not be blamed or punished. Instead, management should first assess the actions and behaviors and compare against the objectives outlined in the training curriculum. If management finds that the training content may have been lacking in certain areas, this is an opportunity to update the content, share the changes, and coordinate a refresher training course to verify ongoing competencies.

Proper recordkeeping and organization also help drive an effective training program. All required training topics, such as hazard communication, hazardous energy control, and fall protection, should be maintained in a database that tracks when and how employees completed the training so refresher courses can be scheduled. In addition, these databases should store all training certificates for each course. At a minimum, certificates should provide the name of the topic, the date completed, and the instructor’s information to verify training was complete.

Employees are exposed to risk and hazards every day and your training program should reflect that ongoing dynamic. Identifying internal trainers or “champions” within the organization to assist with developing or facilitating sessions can create ongoing accountability and ownership in your organization’s training program. EP

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