|By Cekada, Tracey L|
An employee trips over an open file cabinet drawer. Another has a near hit while standing beneath an overhead hoist. The typical solution: Training, training and more training. But is this really necessary? While workers without occupational safety and health training likely are at greater risk for workplace injury and illness, the critical question is whether the training is adequate (
A large amount of time and money is spent on training. In 1992, Broad and Newstrom reported that an estimated
How much training content do employees retain 1 month, 6 months or 1 year after training has been conducted? Estimates suggest that only 10% to 15% of the content is retained after 1 year (Broad & Newstrom, 1992). This problem is compounded when an organization believes that its regulatorymandated requirements are met once training has been completed and documented. They focus little on whether the training was effective.
In some settings, training is seen as the answer to all workplace-safety-related problems. In these cases, training is implemented at every turn. Often, this may leave real problems unresolved. Overtraining also can frustrate employees and cause them to question the credibility of management and the training program (Blair & Seo, 2007). Furthermore, the transformation from implementing required training to newer, performance -based models only heightens the need to ensure that training is the correct solution and, if so, that it is effective (Holten, Bates & Naquin, 2000).
What Is a Training Needs Assessment?
Is training the right solution to workplace problems? To answer this, one can conduct a training needs assessment. This assessment is an 'Ongoing process of gathering data to determine what training needs exist so that training can be developed to help the organization accomplish its objectives" (
Essentially, a training needs assessment is a process through which a trainer collects and analyzes information, then creates a training plan. This process determines the need for the training; identifies training needs; and examines the type and scope of resources needed to support training (
Why Conduct a Training Needs Assessment?
A training needs assessment often reveals the need for well-targeted training (McArdle, 1998). Conducting an effective assessment ensures that training is the appropriate solution to a performance deficiency.
For example, training is not the solution to problems caused by poor system design, inadequate resources or understaffing (
A training needs assessment can help determine current performance or knowledge levels related to a specific activity, as well as indicate the optimal performance or knowledge level needed. For instance, a 25% increase in slips, trips and falls in the production line area may indicate an emerging problem. A needs assessment collects information about worker competence or about the task itself in order to help identify problem causes (Rossett, 1987).