Most, if not all, companies have to train their employees in one aspect or another, whether it’s new hires, job promotions, or being moved to another department within the company. Employee training ensures that we have passed on our business culture and policies to those employees now representing the employer. But unfortunately, that’s where a lot of training stops. The same holds true for safety training. Employees can develop bad habits or take short cuts and if not corrected, those now become your safety culture as new employees are trained by those employees that might not be performing their job duties correctly or safely.
After months and years on the job, daily routine work can dull alertness and relaxed attitudes can replace the caution that existed when the job was new and interesting. In many jobs the same route is traveled daily over the same roads or the same tasks are repeated with little conscious thought. Without regular refresher training of the day-to-day hazards, it becomes easier to continue working in “cruise control” and increase the odds of an accident.
Studies have shown that the “adult learner” must hear a concept or topic 3 times before they retain the information. For that reason, rushing through safety meetings and only having once a month safety meetings is not ideal for employees to retain the new information. Adult learners tend to draw more on their experience and will revert to performing job functions the old way if they do not retain the new training. In other words, they will go back to “the way it’s always been done” routine. In addition, employees who have been with the company for a long period of time will be more resistant to change then new hires. Retraining on a constant basis will help you overcome some of these challenges.
Lets look at some ways to help you in your re-training efforts:
Workers may not always recognize the importance of safety training or think of it as unnecessary because they’ve “been doing it for years.” But an important benefit of periodic safety training is the reminder that a danger can exist and that no one is immune to accidents. Therefore, it is important for workers to understand the purpose of the training session, why it will be useful to them, and what can result from not following safety rules and procedures. Asking employees to share stories of old accidents and how they have learned from them is a good way to engage them and let their experience help others.
Safety training should be organized so that the material is presented will match the steps that should be taken on the job. Make sure every worker understands the training material. Insist on questions from trainees after a session to tell you what did or didn’t sink in. This will let you know what has to be reviewed again. If there’s a general lack of understanding of hazards or safety rules and practices, schedule another safety meeting or plan a refresher course for a later date.
Employees should be able to immediately practice and apply new knowledge and skills. If workers don’t understand safety training information well enough to use it on the job, the training has not been effective. There should be immediate feedback if workers are doing their job safely or not. Supervisors should watch employees do their jobs and question them, to identify what they do, or don’t, know.
Employees need to learn from accidents and illnesses that affect their health. Using each incident as an example of what not to do is one of the best training opportunities you have. After investigating the incident, make any necessary changes to policies and procedures to prevent similar accidents or illnesses in the future. After these new policies are in place, pick a date in the future (no more than 4 weeks) to go over the new policies and get employee feedback as to how it has changed the way they work. In most cases, they will view it as extra steps or extra work, but they see the value of going home the same way they showed up for work.
If you have any questions any information found in this posting, please contact the LL Roberts Group or our new Safety Division, Roberts Risk Management (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!