George’s Corner: March 2012
By George OlahFeatures Business Intelligence
Workers have been taught and required by regulations to wear safety shoes in almost all commercial establishments.
Workers have been taught and required by regulations to wear safety shoes in almost all commercial establishments. Fewer foot injuries sustained by staff translates into reduced medical expenses and more staff productivity. Safety training also helps users understand that a propane barbecue is meant to grill food and not to heat a garage, and that a 33-pound propane liquid cylinder is great to fuel a forklift but not to fuel a temporary construction heater that needs propane vapour for correct operation. If training and regulation are justified when it comes to preventing people from dropping something heavy on their big toes, surely it is justified when it comes to preventing the kinds of catastrophes that can occur with unsafe use of fuels.
This all sounds simple enough but unfortunately not all rental customers are logical.
That is why provincial governments require employers and workers alike to be trained regularly by authorized training professionals. This includes undertaking various testing in order to receive a Record of Training indicating the trainees have met a multitude of provincial requirements.
As a propane marketer, a renter of propane appliances and a trainer, I face a serious issue with numerous individual propane customers and larger construction companies. Most balk at having to pay for and complete the various required ROT courses. There are customers who opine that having to get retrained every three years is insulting to them since many have already been trained before. Quite often their ROTs have expired recently. As such, I cannot provide them with propane fuel or rent them propane-fuelled equipment. Many just balk at paying another fee to get trained again.
There is no question that provincial safety certification is a mess, administratively. It is tedious, often confusing, and ultimately frustrating to all concerned. I can see that in this economic climate everyone who can work wants to work and any hindrance to doing so is frowned upon. Many workers and companies just want to take the chance and not spend the resources to undertake required training. This is dangerous, stupid and an unfair business practice that must not be tolerated.
When getting your staff trained, remember that not all courses and trainers are created equal. Make certain your trainer is an authorized trainer and the certificates or ROTs they issue clearly state what you have been trained for, what specific regulations or standards you have met and the expiry date. I have had customers show me ROT cards with information barely stating their name and some vague reference to what training they completed. These cards are dubious at best.
Online training could streamline much of this. Students would have to possess a good grasp of English and not be afraid of computers, which are barriers in some cases but not all. I can definitely see the appeal for lowering the cost of propane training materials to reduce the overall cost of training certificates and ROTs. Doing so may make the whole training process more attractive to existing and potential propane users. Reducing the overall price of training would serve as inducement to individuals to get trained as well as to increase their knowledge of safety practices for a variety of products.
Presently there are many excellent training materials from associations, qualified training organizations and professionally recognized trainers in Canada. All this comes at a cost, of course. This cost has to be borne by someone. The question is: should it be the user alone who pays the full freight? Transferring 100 per cent of training costs to customers could reduce business. Should there be training subsidies, perhaps even tax breaks or government or insurance industry grants to the trainee? I believe government regulators and various industry associations may need to rethink their strategies behind safety training requirements.
Ultimately this is about the value one places on avoiding loss of life or loss of the ability to work or enjoy life because of a needless accident. In my opinion, while some rethinking of the whole training process is necessary, money spent on safety is money well spent. Our only other challenge is to make sure everyone is trained in safety, not just a few.
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