From a Safety Professional: 7 Signs of Effective Employee Training

October 17, 2022 • Previsor

Training is one of the most important things an employer can offer. Teaching employees safe behaviors lowers the risk of on-the-job incidents. Employers have a responsibility to give their teams the safety education they need to stay safe on the job. But how do they know if it’s making a difference?

On this episode of the WorkSAFE Podcast, we are joined by Sheila Schmidt, Safety and Risk Services Regional Manager at Missouri Employers Mutual. She partners with policyholders to suggest safety improvements to their workplace and customize solutions. Schmidt has spent twenty years working towards the same goal: preventing injuries on the job. 

Listen to this episode on the WorkSAFE Podcast, or read the show notes below.

Training that makes a difference  

Training looks different in every job role. But at its core, it focuses on just one thing. “Training is simply transferring knowledge,” Schmidt explained. “It doesn’t have to be formal or fancy. You’re in a classroom to be effective. It just needs to be applicable and relatable to your team so that they can understand it.” According to Schmidt, employers can see the effects of good training reflected in their workplace.

1. Employees have questions or feedback.

An important quality of good training is conversation. Employees shouldn’t just learn new safety skills and regulations. They should be considering how it might apply or change their role. Questions and conversation show that they are listening thoughtfully. 

2. Employees can demonstrate new methods.

When employees can apply new methods in action, they reveal that they not only know how to do the method themselves, but can also show it to others. “Training will not only give them the knowledge to do things,” Schmidt explained. “But confidence to try new things and the confidence to share new ideas. This is going to build stronger teams, reduce turnover and make for a safer happier workplace all around.”

3. Employees understand the reason for training.

When employees understand the benefits of training – and the consequences of going without it – they are more likely to commit to it. For example, it is important to train employees on the usage of heavy machinery and equipment.

Operations manuals can be a great resource. “If you read through those operations manuals, they are going to have safety tips. They’re going to have process suggestions,” Schmidt said. “They’re going to tell you the right way to do things.” They may also warn of the what happens when you don’t; the risk of serious injury to yourself, someone else or even death.

4. Employers don’t let assumptions hurt training efforts.

Over time, it becomes easier for to make assumptions in the workplace. For example, that long-standing employees know safety rules and requirements, or that new hires will simply pick them on the job. However, these attitudes hurt safety efforts.

Training combats assumptions and wins out over common sense. “Don’t make assumptions,” Schmidt advises. “Start small, and make sure you’re very thorough when it comes to processes or the things that you want. Don’t assume your employee is a mind reader either.” 

5. Training is a requirement, no matter the size of the business.

Training is right for every business, big or small. “I’ve yet to meet someone in any industry who would not benefits from some sort of training,” Schmidt shared. It refreshes important information for current employees. In addition, it brings new employees up to speed. Whether it’s a formal setting in a large company, or two employees training each other in a small one, each employee benefits. 

“It keeps it keeps us from getting too complacent with the job,” she said. “If you’re doing your observations and training, it’s going to let you know if the employees have found  shortcuts or any workarounds that maybe you don’t want them to be doing.” 

6. Employers require team members to be accountable for attending training.

Business with field or traveling employees may find it hard to schedule training. However, planning regular meetings in advance counters this problem. Schmidt recommends keeping a record of attendees.

“Sign-ins can be simple,” she explained. “If you’re doing a Toolbox Talk, have everyone sign and date on the back of the piece of paper. Some sign-ins are more elaborate, where it’s a spreadsheet with dates and times and check-ins. But they both serve the purpose. They both document the training that was done. They both show who was there. We also want to make sure that that training is fresh, current  and consistent.”

7. Employers regularly review and update training.

As safety processes improve every year, training improves also. Employers should make sure to review the information they share. When was the last time courses or materials were updated? Are all employees getting the same information? What new methods or technology could your workplace benefit from? Not only do these updates keep people safe, but they help keep businesses at the forefront of innovation.

Start making changes today

In the world of work comp, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. If your employee training is missing any of these elements, then now is the perfect time to start making changes. “I would say the easiest thing is to just start,” Schmidt shared. “Sometimes the idea of a training program can feel almost overwhelming. ‘You know, I don’t have all that information’. ‘You know, we don’t have a classroom setting’. But start simple.” Employers can:

  1. Visit our free Resource LibraryDownload a free Toolbox Talk. Start a conversation with your team. Have employees sign and date the back to complete your first safety training.
  2. Discuss industry topics. What topics are important to learn about in your industry? Educating employees can help start important conversations about improvements or changes in your business.
  3. Use other businesses as an example. Use information on the news or social media as discussion points. How does this relate to the team? Could this situation happen to us? Create a teachable moment for employees.

Both of these safety training ideas are completely free. “That’s three training meetings that were zero dollars to prepare for, that were already at your fingertips, that are going to be beneficial to your team,” she added.

Whether it’s a regulatory requirement, a safety video, a simple conversation or something in between, employee training is essential. “We rely on our training,” Schmidt finishes. “That is how important training is. That’s how I want every employer to feel about training, that it’s something that they really need to do for the benefit of their business and the benefit of their operations.”

October 17, 2022
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