Even though safety experts agree that training is one of the most effective methods of ensuring worker safety, almost 60% of companies in a recent survey had difficulty finding the time to train their staff in health and safety. Worse still, over 30% were unable to verify if the training they provided was adequate, and 23% grappled with retraining, remediating or providing refresher training to workers who were struggling.
One of the best ways of improving the effectiveness of your health and safety program is to target training to the workers who need it. Here is how to identify areas where your staff may lack training.
Perform a Needs Analysis
A successful training needs analysis/assessment identifies both who needs training and, specifically, what kind of training they need. It can help a company evaluate both the current effectiveness of a training program and identify areas for potential improvement. An internal individual or team can perform a needs analysis, or you can opt to hire a firm that specializes in this type of work. Whichever source you choose, the analysis should focus on a variety of aspects, from the needs of your organization to the knowledge of your workers.
Identify Organizational Needs and Goals
This answers the "why" of safety training. Identify business needs or goals and what, specifically, the organization is trying to accomplish through its safety training. These goals may change over time. Establish clear metrics for your safety training efforts so you have something you can measure against when it’s time to evaluate the effectiveness of your training program.
Perform a Work or Task Analysis
This is the “what” of safety training. To identify any training deficits, you need to know what you are looking for. Conduct an analysis of the work or task that workers are doing and the specific training required for the worker to do it safely. Include compliance and regulated training as well as safety training targeted to particular machinery or individual tasks.
Conduct a Skills and Knowledge Analysis
This is the most challenging and the most crucial component of identifying training deficits. A worker analysis evaluates whether your employees have the necessary skills, knowledge and competencies to do their jobs or tasks safely. If there has been a change in policy, regulations or even in equipment or procedures, these should be noted as well. Most will require some form of updated training.
Commit to collecting and analyzing data on an ongoing basis. As your training needs change, so do the skills and knowledge of your workforce. Even the most competent and safety-conscious workers may need remedial training or upgrading occasionally. There are several ways you can gather the information you need to identify areas where your personnel may need training.
Engage workers in conversations about how prepared or confident they feel in their knowledge and skills regarding safety. Team or staff meetings can achieve this. So can an open-door policy that encourages open discussion. Questionnaires and surveys can also be utilized to collect data about employee perceptions of safety training, particularly to gain insight on gaps in that training.
Talk to Managers and Supervisors
Management can assess training gaps formally by measuring performance and informally by observing employees and examining their work. Performance data should include analyzing data on the company, team and individual performance in controlling hazards and risks. Incident reports and monthly, quarterly and annual safety performance data can help identify issues with safety training. If a specific team has an unusual number of accidents or injuries, it may point to a deficit in their training.
Make Data Collection a Priority
Data is useful because it takes personalities out of the equation and provides hard facts that can form the basis of changes and additions to your safety training program. Managers should keep track of the number of safety training sessions an employee has completed and safety meetings they’ve attended. They should also keep track of near misses and incidents which are not severe enough to warrant a report but collectively may point to a training deficit. The more data you have, the more clear any issues or patterns are. Corrective measures should also be identified, and the effectiveness of their implementation measured.
Training data can also provide some insight into training needs. Many online and mobile training portals now offer in-depth analytics that can help inform your needs analysis. Some will even identify gaps in skills or knowledge for individual workers that can allow you to redirect coaching or other remedial training to the people who need it most. If you’re primarily using classroom training, you can also use assessments from those sessions for information gathering.
A Safe Workplace For All
Identifying areas where personnel may lack training can help you improve existing training and verify its effectiveness. Target your training to the jobs and people who need it when they need it.