First Word – April 2009

In an economic contraction, most business owners evaluate their costs and make cuts where they can. In looking at your costs, how tempting has it been to reduce training? While this course of action may make sense for some types of businesses, in our industry there’s a direct correlation between a lack of training and jobsite accidents. If you’re considering cutting your training program – don’t. Instead, try to modify your training program to fit your company’s current situation without increasing risk to your employees.

· Use the downtime. If you have fewer jobs than before, but your company is still financially sound, take advantage of the time to send your employees to classes or seminars. Your employees will appreciate the work and if stimulus dollars trickle your way, they’ll be ready for a busy construction season.
· Target low cost training. Look for free or grant-based training offered by local chapters of industry associations. For example, the DOL and OSHA offer the Focus Four Hazards in Construction seminar free. Consider online courses, webinars and DVD materials as a low-cost alternative to the classroom setting.
· Explore all resources. Does your equipment dealer offer free or reduced rate training? Most manufacturers offer valuable resources to their customers for free or at a nominal cost. Check with your rep to see what they can offer you.

Whatever course you choose, make decisions that will benefit your company in the long run as well as the short term. Resist the knee-jerk reaction, look at your operator’s training needs, and then craft a sensible training program that will carry you through the downturn without exposing your employees to risk, and your company to unnecessary liability.