Training in the Construction Industry

What are some of the top training concerns for today’s contractors and crews?

That is a pretty broad question because training can apply to so many areas of a company. For example, one aspect of training is teaching workers the skills required to perform the needed work. Many contractors are concerned about that, especially with much of the current workforce nearing retirement age.

Probably the most widespread contractor concern involves safety training. The federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) holds employers responsible for providing a safe workplace and for making sure all employees are trained to recognize hazards, then avoid, control, or eliminate them.
 
So nearly all employers are concerned mikeabout whom they have to train, as well as what kinds of training and how much of each kind is needed in order to meet their legal obligations.


 

What is the return on investment for a training program?

It seems logical that the cost saved by preventing just a few accidents per year would likely offset the cost of training employees to work safely. When you add up what just one larger accident would cost in medical bills, lost work time, lost productivity, equipment repair or replacement, legal fees, OSHA fines, potential settlements, increased insurance rates, and other expenses, the total could easily run from hundreds of thousands of dollars to a million or more.


 

In what areas can a training program help save money?

Skill training can certainly save contractors money by improving both the quality and productivity provided to their workers. Training about how to operate and maintain equipment can also save money by lengthening the life of the equipment, reducing repair costs, and, again, improving productivity.

Safety training can help save money by enabling a contractor to avoid the costs associated with accidents, as mentioned above. If safety training helps reduce the frequency and severity of a contractor’s accidents, it will lower the company’s Experience Modification Rate. A lower EMR not only leads to better insurance rates, it can also make a contractor more attractive to potential customers.


 

What are some things to consider when choosing a training program?

As safety relates to aerial work platforms, a group of industry organizations has put together two statements of best practices that offer guidance considerations. The two documents are the Statement of Best Practices of General Training and Familiarization for Aerial Work Platform Equipment, and the Statement of Best Practices for Workplace Risk Assessment and Aerial Work Platform Equipment Selection.

Both reports can be downloaded, free, from the websites of the participating organizations:
When considering a training program, your first step should be defining what you want or need it to accomplish. What should the end result look like? Then figure out what will be needed in order for the training to deliver that result.

In the case of safety training, consider asking:
  • What are OSHA’s requirements? Are there state or local requirements, too?
  • What kinds of hazards exist?
  • What kind of training is needed to teach workers to recognize and deal with them?
  • Who needs to be trained? How often? To what level?
  • How many people need to be trained, and in what amount of time?
  • Where are they, all in one spot or at many locations?
  • Will training be needed in more than one language?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it take? Is some kind of documentation and recordkeeping required?

As part of the process, a company will have to consider who will provide the training and what mix of media will be most effective – and cost-effective. For example, are there people within the company who have the knowledge, skill, and time to do the training, or will it be more effective to have a specialty training company handle it? Many companies have found that using a combination of internal and external training providers works best. If administration, reporting, and formal recordkeeping will be needed, is there someone in the company who could do it, or would it be better to have an outside company handle it?

Another consideration is what methods, or what mix of methods, will be most effective for delivering training. For example, how much will be face to face? How much will be in classroom and how much will be hands on in a shop or the field? How much will be done in person, and how much through video or online?

This Q&A originally ran in JLG's JobSite newsletter.

 

About the Author: 

Mike Larson

Mike Larson has been writing about heavy equipment and construction for more than 25 years. He joined Heartland Communications Group in 2011 as editor of Lift and Access. During his career, he has edited Western Builder and Midwest Construction, and has been a regular contributor to Engineering News-Record and Constructor magazines. Larson also worked in and managed marketing communications for Manitowoc Cranes. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.