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Family Business Brings Safety Training In-House

Originally published by Chris Kilbourne on https://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

For Jerry McGlynn, safety director for McWilliams Electric Company, bringing training in-house was a strategic choice. In today’s Advisor, we learn more about why he made the choice and how he implements training.

About 10 years ago, McGlynn’s father, who owns the company, began to calculate what he was spending to send employees out for training. He decided to take it inside and put his son in charge.

The younger McGlynn earned certification as a safety training supervisor and a construction health and safety technician. Today, he delivers OSHA 10- and 30-hour courses, and gives employees courses on confined space, fall protection, NFPA 70E, and first aid.

McWilliams Electric is a general electric design-build contracting engineering firm. The family-owned business has about 90 employees and serves Chicago and the suburbs. A “high Safety Rating and continuous training of office and field personnel” has helped McWilliams Electric earn several industry safety awards, according to a statement on the firm’s website (www.mcwilliamselectric.com).

Make Training Effective

Beyond learning what to train, McGlynn also learned how to train. “I make it personal,” he explains. “I talk about near misses, things I know and read about, and things that actually happened.” He reinforces the “real” element by using free YouTube videos, which he incorporates into PowerPoint® presentations.

McGlynn gains insight and tips from membership in the National Electric Contractors Association and from participation on its safety committee. The company also belongs to the American Subcontractor Association, whose safety meetings and forums provide perspective from outside the electrical contractor community.

Value Feedback

McWilliams Electric employees complete an evaluation form following each training session and are asked to suggest ideas for future sessions. These are often incorporated into weekly “toolbox talks.”

Each week, employees receive a yellow toolbox content sheet in the envelope containing their paycheck. They bring the sheets to the toolbox session, where the content is reviewed. Afterward, employees complete questions on the back; McGlynn collects and tracks these responses. Correct answers translate into incentive points, which employees use to purchase safety-related gear.

Use Cost-Effective Methods

If you are looking for cost-effective training techniques to use in your own organization, you might be interested in adapting the following methods already in use at McWilliams Electric:

  • McGlynn regularly visits jobsites, focusing especially on areas of concern, including any raised by the general contractor. He uses this information for future training.
  • All foremen attend a quarterly safety meeting where they receive required training and discuss safety and health issues.
  • McGlynn uses online training as a backup in case employees are not able to attend live sessions.
  • At the conclusion of a training session, participants are asked to write down safety goals and lessons learned, place the sheet of paper into an envelope, and address it to themselves. McGlynn mails these to workers’ homes about a month later to help remind them of what they have committed to work on.
  • A game such as Safety Jeopardy is incorporated into quarterly employee safety meetings. Popular prizes, including tickets to sporting events, are earned when employees demonstrate their safety knowledge.
  • McGlynn encourages employees to think about safety as a constant state of mind by using the slogan “Safety Always,” which he prefers to the more traditional “Safety First.” He uses it on gang boxes and on signs that accompany McWilliams crews to jobsites.

Why It Matters

  • Training is an ongoing need so it’s an ongoing activity.
  • As such, training can become a boring and dreaded requirement for employees, who would rather just do their jobs and go home.
  • Keep training exciting by using creative methods that involve trainees as much as possible—from concept to completion.