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Making your safety training effective

Administering safety training in a timely manner stresses the importance of safety, and helps identify the specific hazards within the work environment.

One of the best examples of why safety training is so important is the growth of food service. Food service exposes our employees to equipment with a lot of moving parts and sharp edges. Assigning a new employee to use food service equipment without proper training can be life changing. One wrong move with a slicer could cost an employee a finger. Safety training also plays a role in protecting the general public. Serving food products outside of the proper temperatures could place your organization in the headlines.

Providing timely training also sends the message to your new employee you value their well being. Remember, timeliness also includes refresher training for your long-term employees. Continue the growth of your long-term employees by keeping them advised of changes and process improvements. We never want to take for granted a long term employee is performing their duties in a safe manner. Plus, engaging employees with safety training regardless of tenure is a proactive move to prevent injuries. When a person is comfortable with their responsibility they are more likely to execute at a higher level, more willing to take on additional responsibility and thereby increasing productivity. If I were to use a slogan to make this point it would be, “Safety training–it’s not just for new hires anymore!”

It is important to establish a training schedule that aligns with your expectations for new employees. State within your training schedule what topics and tasks are to be covered on specific days during your training process. Should you find those responsible for administering your training are not following your schedule, take corrective action to ensure your employees are not short changed in their development.

Addressing “At risk behaviour” during the training process increases the chance your new employees will better recognize the actions that put their safety, and the safety of their co-workers and customers, in jeopardy. The concept is simple. Clearly spell out your expectations and plainly state what is permitted. Explain that anything outside of those boundaries increases the opportunity for injuries.

Opinions, resources, and your organization’s general approach in facilitating training will determine how you execute your training. The age old debate of Computer-Based Training Modules (CBT) vs. live facilitated classes or online training will continue to spark debate. Following the fundamentals of training will help provide the foundations for safety first no matter the delivery method. Assign a training mentor to help guide your new hires through their initial safety training. Those that serve as your training mentors should be individuals that have performed at a high level for an extended period of time. Training mentors should be individuals who have demonstrated their ability to work safely and take appropriate actions to guard the safety and well being of others at your location. The individual must possess strong communication skills and the ability to work with others at varying levels of development. Your trainer must have the ability to address negative situations, and be willing to step up when others fail to follow your established safety protocol.

To be effective safety training must incorporate an instruction phase, a time for live “hands on” demonstration form a well qualified and experienced employee and some time where the trainer and the trainee complete tasks together. Allow for an observation period, where the new employee completes the task on their own under the supervision of their trainer. Follow up with an assessment to determine if the new employee fully understands the instruction they were given throughout their training.

Hands on demonstration allow for the individual to see the task completed as intended. By observing and listening to their trainer the new employee should begin to recognize the potential negative results if something is not executed correctly. This takes the pressure off the new hire by allowing them to see and hear the instructions from their trainer.

Allowing the new hire to team up with their trainer provides them the opportunity to experience the tasks without the fear of failing, or the fear of getting hurt. Plus, this allows the trainer to evaluate the ability of the new employee to follow directions.

Let the new hire experience the process for them self. Give them the feeling of accomplishment, by allowing them to complete the task knowing a qualified individual is nearby should they need assistance.

Assessing or testing a new hire’s ability to execute their duties in a safe manner is one of the most underutilized methods in the training process. The assessment process can be completed on-line, through a CBT or an actual written document. More importantly, you have a system in place to determine if the person has truly retained the information provided throughout their training.

Remember, the training process belongs to the individual!  It is their responsibility to follow your programs, your processes, and know what you expect from their performance. A person that does not embrace your safety training process, and does not take your safety training seriously will likely not work safely when working unsupervised. Demonstrating a willingness to execute their duties in a safe manner will also tell you how serious that individual takes their commitment to your organization.

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