Updated: Oct 10, 2022
In my 30 plus years of involvement in safety, I have learned one thing. If you want people to do the right thing, teach them what the right things are. In a labor market where we struggle to get qualified people to accomplish our contractual obligations we are faced with the reality that qualified people are very difficult to find. Also, our industry does not attract younger workers. The current education system lacks the emphasis on vocational training and are intent on qualifying students for a college education, many times, in useless degree disciplines. Many graduate and can’t find employment in their chosen area.
Our industry pays well but the stigma of working in dirt only seems to appeal only to us and to farmers. We need to be able to reach a new market somehow. We need an infusion of candidates willing to work hard. Perhaps, with so many people leaving the job market in protest of government controls and mandates we may have an opportunity to provide a good living to people who want to make a change. If that happens, we need to advertise the opportunities and be prepared to help them understand the industry. That understanding comes with training. So many times we find that accidents and incidents are caused by lack of knowledge and understanding of the job tasks being performed. We rely on field training to take care of the education necessary to prepare a worker to do a job safely but that’s not always the best policy.
There needs to be either a classroom environment or a similar process where the basics of the business and an outline of the expectations can be exchanged. Dialog can be established where new employees can learn the basics of what they might expect in the work environment. Explaining the simple things like PPE use and fundamentals of safe workmanship. Expectations for timeliness, accountability, attendance, skill development, communication channels, all can be accomplished by an effective orientation. The definition of “ORIENTATION” is “The direction someone is facing or the way someone tends to go.”. Our obligation is not to expect or assume that training will occur. We need to be sure that it begins in an orderly and consistent process that includes the intent that we will start someone “facing the way they need to go” and be sure that the process is continued through the life of employment.