Employee Safety Training Matters
John Harp, CSP, ARM Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group
Employee turnover and inadequate training directly affects your bottom line and can be a struggle for the best of c-stores. Effective training leads to a more successful employee who is safer and is more comfortable with customers, resulting in improved sales and lower costs. Ineffective training can increase turnover, which leads to time that could be spent more productively elsewhere.
Training is one of the most important tools in helping an employee succeed, and promotes incident and injury prevention. The objective of safety training is to help your employees make safer decisions in the store. For example, “Should I lift two cases of water at once to stock the vault because it’s faster?” or “Someone steals a 12-pack of beer and runs out the door—should I follow them to get the license plate of the vehicle?” This type of decision-making is common for your employees, and through quality training a safe outcome will occur more often. Something else to consider is that you want your employees to make good decisions in your absence. Quality training will influence this behavior.
There are many reasons that safety training is important, including legal requirements. OSHA—regardless of your state—has safety training requirements enforceable by law, and without compliance the agency can levy fines. Common OSHA required topics include:
- Hazard Communication—Safe use of chemicals and how to use a Safety Data Sheet.
- Fire and Evacuation—Your employee must know what to do in a fire or other emergency.
- Walking and Working Surfaces—Show employees how to identify and correct slip, trip and fall hazards (ladders and step stools should be covered, too).
- Medical and First Aid—What to do when first aid or medical care is needed, and the use of the first aid kit.
- General Duty Clause—Information to help employees understand what is needed to “keep the workplace free of recognizable hazards.” This should include utility knives, lifting and crime/assault prevention.
WHEN SHOULD TRAINING BE DONE?
New employees should be trained their first day following any SEI guidelines for the Computer Based Training (CBT) orientation. Although an employee may have prior retail experience, the 7-Eleven operation may be completely different and they must understand your operation and expectations for safety.
Refresher training is also important, as an employee cannot recall everything covered those first few days. Reminder training also should be completed after a near miss, incident or injury. If an employee cuts their hand opening a case of donuts, it’s time for a reminder for all the employees. If an employee is threatened by a shoplifter or assailant, there should be a reminder to the staff on procedures regardless if an injury occurs. The outcome of an incident or near injury should not dictate the need for refresher training.
WHO SHOULD DO THE TRAINING?
The SEI CBT program provides most of the necessary safety training orientation for a new hire, but watching and interacting with a computer program provides information that is only partially retained. It’s critical that you or your manager actively engage the employee before and after the CBT. As Management, you are in the best position to gauge the employee’s comprehension and further understand their strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly verbalize your safety expectations.
HOW TO MAKE TRAINING EFFECTIVE
Training involves many methods with CBT now prevalent. Considering that people have different learning styles, this method alone with interactive quizzes might result in 20 percent recall or retention. This is not adequate for important safety and customer service learning. Effective learning requires a simple method: Tell, Show, Do, Practice and Review.
This means certain steps must be in place to assure your employee effectively retains the key information after the CBT, and it’s important to recognize that not all employees will learn the same way. A younger employee will likely respond to CBT supplemented with interaction, quizzes, games, etc., in short segments. An older employee may need more verbal interaction, and all employees need real-life example.
STEPS TO TRAINING SUCCESS
- Combine verbal with online training.
- Explain and then demonstrate the job procedures.
- Have the employee demonstrate they understand.
- Praise for what is done correctly.
- Correct the technique if necessary.
- Follow-up and repeat if needed.
- Encourage the employee to share their expertise.
A TRAINING EXAMPLE—HOW AND WHEN TO MOP:
- Describe when to mop and where.
- Show the proper recipe for the cleaning solution and safety precautions.
- Demonstrate mopping technique (e.g. one hand or two, side to side, walking backward while maintaining awareness behind, etc.).
- Follow with a dry mop when possible.
- When and where to use the “wet floor” signs.
- Ask for any feedback or challenges they may have with the task.
This may seem time consuming and complicating a simple job, but one cannot assume an employee will understand how to safely handle a training topic that can result in a slip and fall for employees or customers.
New employees will bring their habits or traits with them, and these cannot be changed by simply watching a computer program or seeing a poster. With a tell, show, do, practice and review approach, behaviors and techniques can be altered with follow-up and reinforcement. Consider that non-verbal learning also occurs. If an employee observes another employee or manager correctly lifting a BIB or a single case of drinks instead of two at once, the desired behavior will occur more often.
After an employee completes their initial orientation, should the learning stop? As an employee gains experience and comfort with the job there are unending reasons to provide reminders and reinforcement training to ensure old or undesired habits do not return.
Training provides good information, but embedding the material into daily activities— whether it’s responding to an assault or stocking drinks in the vault—requires a steady stream of feedback and reminders, verbal and non-verbal. And remember, in addition to owner, CEO, Human ResourcesManager and more, you are the most important teacher.
For free training resources, contact your insurance company or broker/agent.
MITSUI SUMITOMO INSURANCE GROUP
John Harp, CSP, ARM
Risk Engineering Consultant
Claims Account Executive