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August 2007

Safety Training

Safety Training — Have It Your Way

Masonry Magazine

Today, everything from fast food to new cars is customizable. Fortunately for masonry professionals, so is safety training.

Today's training market offers a plethora of options. The best part: Even the most expensive among them can be negotiated into most budgets.

From online to onsite, there's a method for satisfying the needs and constraints of every conscientious mason contractor interested in protecting his or her crew.

Jump Online for Training
Safety training is rapidly becoming more available in an online format, which provides a flexible option to traditional training, as new hires can complete their coursework at home before they even step foot on the company premises or job site.

For new employees who need to report to work before their training begins, they can work at their own pace, logging in before and after a shift to work on their training. Taken in contrast to some — who dangerously wait days or even weeks before starting training — this is a great alternative.

To save money, look for online training that doesn't require a membership fee in addition to the course fees. Also, ask the provider if you can try the first class at no cost to make sure it meets your requirements.

Bring the Trainer to You
Many companies choose to bring a trainer to their facility. Not only does this allow for more job-specific training, it is typically less expensive than sending crews to the trainer because the travel costs are now limited to one person instead of 10 or more.

Masonry MagazineAgain, you should not be afraid to negotiate or seek competitive bids. If you have more than 10 employees, ask for a flat rate instead of a per-student fee.

Another cost-cutting technique applied to the visiting trainer method is to invite employees from similar local companies to attend the training, sharing in the cost.

Send Employees to the Trainer
One of the more traditional methods for arming employees with safety training knowledge is to send trainees — often to out-of-state locations — for a multi-day training course. While these top-notch programs offer tremendous training by diligent instructors, they can be costly, as course fees, travel, meals and lodging expenses can add up quickly.

To reduce these costs, consider sending one or two employees and then having them train others when they return. Another option is to negotiate your rate. Ask the training provider for group discounts or for "preferred customer" discounts if you do a lot of training.

An easy way to trim the fat off a training solution like this one is to choose a training facility in the local area, which avoids the travel, lodging and meal expenses. While local entities may not be as well equipped as the national or "destination" training facilities, this option makes a good alternative for companies looking for one-on-one, off-site instruction.

However, a drawback to be aware of when it comes to off-site training is that trainees typically are attending the courses alongside employees from other companies. Therefore, the trainer is limited in how precise he or she can get with the instruction and can't comment specifically on the equipment, work environment or day-to-day duties required of each operator in the class.

Masonry Magazine

Tap Your Staff Experts
Even more customization and economies-of-scale can be achieved by designating an in-house trainer — someone already on staff within your ranks. After all, there's no better way to achieve detailed, customized and personal instruction than to turn to an actual employee for training.

While this person is likely an established employee, he or she should have the authority to enforce the rules, regulations and company policies he or she is teaching.

This method of training offers distinct advantages, including the ability to perform new-hire or refresher training as necessitated by company growth or a particular project. The need for this immediate training can get expensive if using an outside trainer for many employees several times a year.

It's important to note that your on-staff trainer does not need to be a certified instructor. OSHA specifies only that an instructor must be someone "competent to train." Given the right materials and experience with the equipment and/or environment within which your employees need to be trained, this level of competence is easier to obtain than you might think.

Masonry Magazine

Often, on-staff trainers lack access to resources for the development of a quality in-house training program. However, newly available training kits, such as the Arxics Hard Hat Training CDs, can alleviate this burden.

Fully customizable to a company's equipment, environment, policies and state regulations, these affordable kits include printed materials to accompany the digital instruction, so things like paper-based manuals and tests also are available to the trainer.

Although the in-house trainer is most practical for the largest companies who require massive amounts of training, smaller entities have used the method successfully. One way to offset the costs of the in-house trainer's salary and benefits is to provide his or her services to other local companies for a fee.

Safety training is possible for every masonry professional, no matter what your budget. With the right amount of negotiation, many of today's quality training options become affordable solutions for companies that value a safe work environment and a culture of continuous training.

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