Training and Supervision

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Staff Training and Supervision

What is Good Training?

Training involves the development of skills and habits, and goes beyond merely providing information. When workers are educated about working safely they gain important knowledge, but it takes training to turn that knowledge into action.

For example:

Do you remember learning how to drive? You needed to be educated about the laws and pass a learner's exam, but it took supervised driving practice and training to pass the road test and survive on the road to this day. The same can be said for training staff in the exercise of their responsibilities related to anything on the job, including safety.

Having written instructions for working safely is one step but without at least basic training the instructions can be highly ineffective. Most people need practical hands-on training and supervision in order for information to sink in. Supervision (which includes reinforcement) is key to the development of skills and good work habits over time.

When Training is Required

All workers need at least a safety orientation when they first start a job. Even if they’ve worked in a similar environment, your store is different from any other and they must at least know the hazards they will encounter and how to work safely.

Orientations take new workers through all the tasks they are expected to do in their new job and introduces them to the way you do things in your store. The trainer needs to be thorough, informed, and be willing to answer questions. Using a Worker Orientation Checklist will help to make sure all the bases get covered.

In addition to new worker orientations, there are times when experienced staff also needs training, such as:

  • When the work environment changes significantly. A new location or significant change can mean that workers need to be trained in, for example, emergency procedures, specific new hazards or working alone
  • When there is new equipment like a new machine or new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • When there’s a new, safer way of doing an established task
  • When there is new health and safety information such as new information regarding contact with hazardous materials

Find Out What Training is Needed

Too many accidents happen simply because we assume people know something they don’t. Find out what people already know and what they need to know.

  • What are the current OH&S requirements?
  • What issues, if any, have inspectors brought to your attention?
  • What other health and safety performance problems has your company had?  Look at your past records.
  • What training do employees think they need? Ask them!

What’s the Best Way to Deliver Training?

The best way to deliver training depends on the context, and it's up to you to decide how formal or informal it should be. Sometimes one-on-one training is the best way to show someone how to do something. At other times small group training can work better because it can promote more discussion.

When you’re planning a training session, keep in mind that most people learn best when:

  • They know the reasons for the training. Tell workers what the goals of the training are and what they should be able to do at the end of it
  • They get a chance to try doing things hands-on and get to ask questions along the way

Supervise and Reinforce

People need to understand and apply information in order for it to sink in. It takes practice and repetition, not just at the moment training is delivered, but continuously in their daily work. That’s where supervision comes in – to reinforce training and make it 'stick'.

If you are a supervisor, patiently keep reinforcing training until you know workers are able to work safely and effectively. For example:

  • Motivate - tell them what can go wrong and why it matters to them
  • Explain step-by-step how to do the task
  • Show them how to do each step safely
  • Have them repeat the steps top-to-bottom until it’s done right. Give credit where it’s due
  • Check by coming back two hours later to see if they are still doing it right. Check it again two days later, etc
  • Document the training and the worker’s level of ability to do the job safely and properly
  • Give refresher training periodically, especially if you notice workers forgetting what they learned

Keep Training Records

Employers have to keep track of all training given to each worker. This is a legal requirement, but it can be useful for planning refresher training and for keeping training up-to-date.

Using a simple form like a Worker Training Record for each person on staff is a quick and efficient way to be able to see what training people have received and when.

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