When working in the field, there’s no margin for error. Worker safety must be the number one priority, and proper training is a key element in ensuring everyone makes it home safely and that your business is protected. For this reason, manufacturers take training very seriously, mandating that workers of all levels receive fluid system safety training before setting foot on a jobsite. They know that competency is just as important as any insurance policy when it comes to mitigating risk and ensuring the efficiency of operations.
But what does a first-class training program look like? We’ll break down the three elements every training program should include.
1. The training course is only as effective as the provider (instructor + content + expertise).
As the adage goes, time is money, and training takes your employees away from the task at hand. You have to be sure that the time investment will yield returns to your operation. And it starts with a certified training program with a qualified instructor and the materials to teach your associates.
When looking into training programs, be sure to ask: Has the instructor spent significant time in actual operations? Has he or she seen firsthand what daily life for my employees is like?
A good rule to follow is to look for instructors who have spent time working in the field alongside engineers, mechanics, technicians, maintenance superintendents, and operators. The instructor should have intimate knowledge of the daily challenges your employees face in order to provide them with useful tools that can be applied in real life—not just in a classroom.
Experience is what can help an instructor quickly earn the respect of your employees and keep them engaged. Equally important are facilitation skills and effective training methods. Great instructors will be able to offer relatable stories and anecdotes as well as engage learners in demonstrations and activities that can accelerate the knowledge that is taken back and applied throughout your operations.
Trainers should also be evaluated on a regular basis by subject matter experts to assure their competence. Ultimately, instructors who come from learning environments and organizations focused on knowledge sharing can offer greater insights to your business.
2. Hands-on, practical training boosts retention and engagement.
We’ve all had those teachers. The ones who stand in front of the classroom talking ad nauseam, citing references from textbooks and never taking any real time to engage with the class. The truth is, there’s no faster way to lose an audience than talking at students for an entire day.
The most effective training programs include a mix of theoretical, classroom-style learning and practical application, meaning that participants have an opportunity to engage with the subject matter hands-on. Activities and group participation are proven to keep learners engaged and help them retain what they’ve learned long after the training course is done. For the best results, look for programs that dedicate at least 30 percent of course time to practical application and that, depending on the subject matter, enable the instructor to spend one-on-one time with your employees, giving them the hands-on education they desire.
The course content should also be reviewed regularly to make sure that new lessons from the field are being considered and, if necessary, included in the program.
3. Learning must continue once the course is over.
Effective training is not one day and done. It is a continuous process. Your employees should walk away with materials, such as workbooks, tip sheets, and manuals that can be referenced in the field. They should also have the opportunity to continue their learning outside of the training room on their own time. Great training programs can be augmented by shorter online learning courses on very specific topics that will help them be safer and more efficient on the job.
It’s also important to note that technology, challenges, and opportunities evolve, so retraining is critical. Large manufacturers send their workers back to the classroom about every three years so they are armed with the latest knowledge to keep operations running smoothly and safely. Instructors and training facilitators should also be available after the initial training to provide a touchpoint for employees seeking further information or support. Often, questions arise around site energy loss and emissions, as well as hose and safety inspections. A real-world engineer who lives and breathes what they teach can be a constant resource.
The efficiency of your business and the safety of your workers are dependent upon proper competency in all facets of your operations. From proper installation and maintenance of components to addressing common safety concerns, rely on your suppliers to offer courses that help you reduce or eliminate errors and injuries. The results for you will be smoother operations, lower downstream costs, and higher profitability—and an added insurance policy that you are doing everything you can to mitigate risks to your employees.
Don’t settle for anything but the best. Make sure your training courses include all four components of a successful training program to maximize your time and investment:
- Experienced instructors
- Subject matter expertise and high-quality content
- Mix of classroom and hands-on learning
- Workbooks and reference tools that can be used in the field.
Ultimately, proper training and education provide consistency to your operations. Quality content and expert instruction can help employees work safer and smarter around the clock, saving time and reducing costs.
What to ask when evaluating training programs:
- Is the course being offered by an organization with a reputation for quality and training, and with expertise in the subject matter?
- Does the instructor have field experience?
- Has the instructor received extensive facilitator training from an accredited organization or reputable supplier?
- Does the instructor have the ability to teach employees at various skill levels and with various learning styles?
- Does the instructor have the technical aptitude to work with engineers and other skilled workers?
- Does the course include a mix of theoretical and practical training techniques?
- What tools will be provided for ongoing learning and reference at the end of the course?
- Can the organization customize a program at my location based on our particular needs?
- Can the organization provide testimonials and references from past training participants?