Scheduling training can feel a lot like scheduling a root canal! It's not something most people look forward to. After all, you and your staff are busy people and it might feel like a complete waste of time to sit down and re-examine the numerous small tasks that you do every single day.
Ironically, it's that exact attitude that makes refresher training so important.
According to official sources, close to 1000 workers in Canada die every year due to workplace accidents. As grim as that statistic is, some studies say the number that number is even higher than that due to under-reporting and statistical fudging of what counts as a workplace death under official definitions. This isn’t even getting into the thousands of serious workplace injuries that occur every single year and the potentially life-altering disabilities that may be incurred as a result of them.
Workplace accidents and injuries occur for a wide range of reasons, but a common theme in many reported incidents is haste and overfamiliarity. It makes sense when you stop to think about it. When you do the same job day in and day out, potentially for years, workplace hazards that once seemed alarming can become routine. Combine this with hectic schedules, pressure to meet production demands, and typical workplace stressors, and it’s easy for workers to neglect (or even intentionally bypass) safety procedures.
That’s why regular refresher training that reinforces the importance of safety procedures and hazard awareness are so crucial, it’s your opportunity to prevent an accident before one occurs!
But how do you go about making refresher training effective?
Identify what kind of training your business needs
Take a look at your business and make a list of all the potential hazards in your day-to-day operations. Some might be obvious. If you run a metal forming shop, obviously you need training on equipment, forklift operation, lift equipment if you need to retrieve heavy stock kept in racks, and so on. But this doesn’t apply to just industrial businesses that are inherently dangerous. One might think a grocery store is fairly safe but look around next time you’re in one. Think about employees dealing with heavy stock, do they know how much is one person able to lift on their own and when a lifting partner should be called? What about cash safety? Is everyone aware when to call for a till change or how to safely manage their till and workspace to discourage robbery attempts? Even offices contain their own hazards – does the staff know where to go in the event of a fire? Are they incurring repetitive stress injuries due to how their worksurfaces are set up and how they hold their body as they work? Are they clear on how equipment such as paper shredders are supposed to be used?
Create a detailed list of all the potential hazards in your business and what the current precautions for them are. Do they seem like they are strong enough to prevent any issues? Do you see staff following these guidelines or constantly flaunting them? Where could things be improved? By starting with these questions you can form a safety refresher that is effective and meaningful.
Don’t single anyone out, make refresher training a team event
The point of refresher training is to help everyone. Sadly, there can be a perception that such refresher training is reserved for staff who are not meeting expectations, or are known to be reckless, or have failed to measure up in some other way. This is a corrosive attitude that can make staff resent and resist any kind of training effort, so head it off before it even happens by including everyone in the training – even you! Nothing is more important than the safety of everybody.
Stay on top of the latest trends
One of the many useful things about refresher training is how it provides an opportunity to check in on recent technological advancements and regulation changes. If your employee training regimen was written years ago, it’s entirely possible that there have been several advancements since then that could make your workplace safer and easier to work in. This will also help you keep up to date with regulatory demands, ensuring you’re in compliance with all provincial and federal policy.
Hire a professional
While any refresher training is better than none, you may consider hiring an outside consultant to handle your refresher training. Not only will the new face stress how important this training is to the business, it will also provide an outside perspective on your processes and help you identify hazards and potential efficiencies you may not even notice.
A professional trainer will also have access to materials and testing methods to help make the training more entertaining/engaging for your staff, as well as more effective. If you show your staff that you’re taking refresher training seriously, they will too.