Departments and supervisors have many options as to the type of safety training program to administer. Select a strategy that accommodates the type of training needed, the personnel to be trained, compatibility with operating procedures, and the resources available. Present the program, with the required training, to employees as part of an overall worker development plan. Ensure all training is relevant and necessary; distinguishing between must have, should have, and would be good to have training.
Many people only consider group classroom instruction when deciding on a strategy for employee performance improvement. However, other forms of relating information can have distinctive advantages over the classroom environment. These alternative learning strategies include job aids, on-the-job training, and distance learning.
The following programs are feasible for most departments in terms of in house resources and expertise. Keep in mind that each of the programs has advantages and disadvantages. A “blended” or mixed approach is usually considered the most effective. Contact EH&S for more information on how these programs work or for suggestions on how to integrate a program into the work environment without increasing the workload.
Job aids are devices or materials that assist the worker in the performance of the task at hand. IT might be a written procedure, checklist or a software program that reminds or forces the employee to perform the task in a specific, step-by-step manner. A job aid is usually quick and cheap to develop. It is easy to implement, simple to maintain and provides an on-going reference. Unfortunately, feedback and buy-in are often missing, so employees may not use job aids or use them incorrectly. Good job aids spell out critical steps and provide consistency. when appropriate , they are the best way to ensure desired employee performance with the least amount of formal structure.
On-the-job training (OJT) is a widely used method of training employees. A good program has the characteristics of being interactive and relevant to the workplace environment, so trainees are interested and motivated. It is observable and conducted under normal work conditions, so that corrections can be made on the spot and feedback provided. Major limitations are the knowledge base, attitude and training skills of the employee assigned to supervise the trainee. Consistency and standardization become factors if different trainers are assigned to different trainees. It is important to assign your best workers to train employees, because you will get a "clone" of the trainer when the OJT is over. A formal OJT program must be created following a sound instructional design process in order to be an effective strategy. When done properly, it is a time and cost efficient method that promotes team building and a steep learning curve.
There are an abundance of options for distance education in the form of computer based training (CBT), video checkout, traditional correspondence, and web based/enhanced training. The key to these programs is that employees gain the freedom to set their own schedule, and sometimes location, for learning. This strategy has obvious advantages for putting slow or spare times to good use, working around production schedules, allowing employee initiative, providing an atmosphere conducive to learning, and etc. Distance education is not for everyone, being just as, or more, effective as classroom training for some and totally ineffective for others. The main issue for compliance is that the employee has an opportunity at some point for a face-to-face question and answer exchange with a knowledgeable individual.
Once a year, during a convenient period in the work schedule, normal operations are suspended. Sessions are conducted for initial/refresher training for identified and prioritized safety topics. Subjects are selected by relevance to the work process, regulatory mandates, and with input from front line workers.
A safety meeting is an in-depth topic discussion. Videos, handouts, and practice activities are good ways to support safety meetings. Meetings are most effective as programmed over a specified time interval (one or two topics each month).
A safety talk is brief and to the point. It covers a few specific aspects of a topic and takes two to seven minutes. Use safety talks to discuss issues such as the proper use of a new machine, the alert of employees to new or revised procedures, or the reminder of the importance of safety. Talks can be given during morning briefings or weekly staff meetings.
One way to ensure employees receive a minimum of information is to set aside cyclic time slots for a series of short videos. The videos will discuss the safety issues previously determined to be relevant.
A convenient way to present a video series is during lunch sessions. Videos are usually ten to twelve (some twenty) minutes and can be seen over the midday break. EH&S provides free popcorn with each video loan for a more relaxed and better learning atmosphere for employees.
Pick a topic and produce a video using your employees to demonstrate a procedure or task. A short video can be fun and get more employee involvement. A word of caution, this is a complex and difficult project for the novice. There are resources to assist with this type of project.
A safety talk or meeting accompanied by a relevant video will help provide a good overview of the topic and relate shop specifics at the same time. This removes a lot of the pressure to be an accomplished trainer while keeping the information real world. EH&S has videos that come with instructor outlines to assist novice trainers.
Use the safety bulletin board to rotate safety posters depicting various aspects of safety. Rotate the posters on a schedule and reflect as many issues as possible, to hold employee interest. Purchase or create posters that cover the desired issues.
Award a certificate of completion after the employee finishes a certain number of sessions of a prescribed training program. The certificates can be used to monitor employee progress and efforts toward improvement. Make receipt of certificates an aspect for consideration at performance evaluation time. Some employees will hang them near their workstations, reminding them to uphold the unit’s high safety standards.
As a department, EH&S conducts classroom instruction, workshops, and seminars that are open to the general university population or tailored to a specific organizational audience. Select relevant topics from the EH&S Annual Training Schedule and register employees for the classes. Training is most effective when supervisors and managers attend the same training. If scheduled classes are inconvenient, contact EH&S for special department sessions.
Using the employee development plan, select relevant class offerings from published schedules. This training is more effective if the employee is told to be ready to share the new knowledge with the rest of the department upon return from class. The report will help determine if the particular class was presented at a standard worth sending other employees or if the time spent was wasted.
Use the same strategy as with the training offered by public institutions. However, be ready to pay, whether the course was effective or not. Contact EH&S for brochures or a list of courses, Training Seminars, being offered.