Safety training – Should you use in-house trainers or bring in outside professionals?

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:25 pm

Should you use in-house trainers or bring in outside professionals?

By Marla Cherti, for SBT
Commentary

Safety training generally costs a company money, whether it’s done in-house or by an outside vendor. But if it’s done properly, it’s money well spent.
Successful companies of all kinds provide their employees with safety training. It’s the right thing to do. The benefits that accrue are a more motivated and safety-conscious workforce, less downtime, decreased insurance costs, and a more skilled labor force.
That can all promote higher productivity and better morale.
If you decide to provide a training program for your company, should you do it in-house? Bring in an outside trainer? Utilize a combination of both? The correct answer depends on the nature of your operation.
There are benefits and disadvantages to consider:
In-house training can be effective if the instructor is well versed in adult teaching techniques, knows the subject matter thoroughly, has properly prepared the training program for adult comprehension and learning skills, and follows up to determine if the participants have, in fact, benefited from the training.
The disadvantage, however, is that in-house training is often assigned to someone on staff who has a myriad of other duties and, therefore, may not be able to focus adequately on the task of training.
Another disadvantage to consider is the credibility of the co-worker who doubles as a trainer. Familiarity often breeds contempt. Employees in a training setting don’t always perceive that their co-worker/trainer is an expert in the field – and that can be a problem.
Credibility can be enhanced, however, when the support materials – the training manuals and other training tools – are professionally produced and provided to the students for further reference.
Outside trainers provide several pluses. Training is their full-time job. They’re skilled in involving participants and evaluating the effectiveness of their teaching techniques. They often have a more in-depth knowledge of the subject matter because they find themselves in a variety of work setting and have been exposed to a diversity of special challenges.
Additionally, professional trainers have acquired the skills needed for their jobs. There are adult teaching techniques and participation processes which make teaching more effective.
If you require constant, ongoing training for your employees, consider sending your in-house instructors to a "train the trainer" class offered by a local college or a training consultant.
Smaller companies often can’t afford to bring in outside trainers, nor can they afford to send their people to learn how to become an instructor. In that event, involvement in a trade group can bring the advantages that larger companies enjoy.
A local trade association might offer general programs, i.e. hazard communication or general safety training that apply to most every industry; or industry specific training such as lockout/tag out or spill releases.
Another advantage of utilizing outside training professionals is the objective documentation of training they provide. This is often helpful in dealing with insurance companies or regulatory agencies. Documentation by a qualified third party demonstrates you strong, good faith effort in providing safety training to your employees.

Marla Cherti is president of Good Armstrong & Associates, a Milwaukee-based occupational and environmental health/safety training and consulting firm. She can be reached at 414-645-7600.

July 11, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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