Training vs Teaching; Knowing the Differences

Whether you’re training someone to operate a crusher safely or how to repair and maintain a system of conveyors, there are stark differences between teaching someone how to do something and actually training them to perform their tasks properly. 

Too often we “teach” someone how to do something and assume they have a grasp on the task, then move on. However, if we focus on truly making cultural changes in our organizations that revolve around a safer and more productive workplace, many other cost-savings will occur, including:

  1. Reduced worker’s compensation claims & premiums
  2. Reduced equipment and site/location damage
  3. Improved maintenance conditions of equipment
  4. Improved productivity
  5. Enhanced employee morale

This is just to name a few.  Too often checking a box in the company manual becomes the goal and we “miss the forest for the trees.”  Training is a never-ending process.  Why? Because nothing is ever stagnant in your operation.  There are almost daily changes involving equipment, processes, personnel, products or facilities, and the list goes on.  Each change requires training or re-training to make sure each employee can become familiar and comfortable with the changes.

And if you rent heavy equipment to augment your current fleet, like many of our customers do, the task of training becomes even more important as new equipment is introduced into your operational mix.

Let’s look at the differences in the pure definitions of teaching vs. training.

Train – To instruct as to make proficient. To guide the mental, moral, development of, etc…
Teach – To show how to do something. Instruct. To give knowledge, insight, etc…

When you conduct training, it is very important that the person who is doing the training be an experienced person that is able to convey the information to the trainees. There are many people with experience, but they may lack the ability to transfer than knowledge in an understanding way. Conversely there are also people that can convey information very well, but lack the experience to thoroughly train your employees.

As we’ve stated previously, training is more than a one or two-day affair.  It must be ongoing and ingrained in your organization. A couple of things you can do to institute ongoing training programs are:

  1. Create ownership at all levels.  Whether it starts at a VP level or with your Safety Officer, each and every person must know the expectations and be proactive in bringing ideas and opportunities to improve safety conditions to the table.
  2. Regular meetings.  These meetings should not only address new training needs, but also review of OSHA standards and the expectations of your organization as well.
  3. Inspections.  Along with your employees, walk their areas and departments and provide them opportunities to point out changes and areas of improvement.  
  4. Keep records.  All meetings, attendees, topics etc…  Have someone take notes and file them.  Keep all training records in employee files for reference, and keep a simple spreadsheet handy of all training, what it covered, the date it occurred, and when refresher training will be required in the future.
  5. Make safety part of your culture.  Posters, reminders on paycheck stubs, celebrating safety milestones, contests, t-shirts, hats and other awards are all small things you can do to permeate your organization with your safety mantra.

An ongoing training program will pay for itself in the long run.   And since you look at your employees as family, ensuring their safety is just the right thing to do.  Remember “train” your employees, don’t “teach” them, and the payoffs will be great…for everyone involved.