But my Client doesn’t give a crap about that training!

Construction training you should probably do even though your Client doesn’t insist.

We all know the mantra – Information, Instruction & Training. As the employer, you already know the duty you have to make sure everyone gets trained.

But I’ve noticed a familiar pattern across lots of companies as I travel from site to site; The training that’s given by construction companies is often driven by Client specification and not internal needs analysis.

Depending on what a particular Client wants is often the deciding factor in what gets trained. Don’t get me wrong; any pressure to get some training done is a good thing. As you know, there’s never a good day to stop work and carry out training.

But this approach can often leave companies exposed from possible skills shortfalls. It’s often nobodies fault; the construction company will do what they need, to rub along with the Client, and the focus then inevitably moves away from other areas needing attention.

You know the kind of thing; A cable strike will lead to a rush on CAT & Genny training, a Client initiative will mean everyone gets a face fit test (except for those beardies!), or some deep drainage reveals a gap in confined space training.

Whatever the subject, the outcome is the same; construction companies get reactive and can be pushed from pillar to post with the Client’s training requirements.

Is there a solution? Well, yes, of sorts.

It starts with remembering that your company will be expected to stand alone (the Client won’t rush in to save you, trust me) if there’s an accident involving your staff, and that, you or your team (not the Client) will have to answer for any training shortfalls highlighted.

It also involves getting back to the mantra; Information, Instruction & Training. If your company puts someone to work with hazardous equipment or substances, then the mantra applies, irrespective of the Clients’ current scheme or focus.

I can already hear the cries, “what, more cost and more downtime, we can barely keep up with training as it is!”

Granted, none of this is convenient, but as they say, rules are rules. Remember you don’t have to get bogged down, the key things to remember are;

  • The Client often has a focus that doesn’t coincide with your internal training needs.
  • You (your company) will be exposed if an incident occurs that highlights your failings regarding any training not given.
  • It pays to do an internal training needs analysis to make sure that gaps and weaknesses are exposed.
  • It’s beneficial to think of your company as independent from an HSE spotlight point of view.

If you approach training in this way, your company can minimise its exposure from not following the mantra.

These are some examples of training gaps I see on my travels where the Client didn’t insist on training, but there was still an obvious need for it by the particular construction company;

  • Vehicle banksman – Ground-Workers are reversing lorries with no training.
  • Slinger – Lots of people attaching chains to loads with no proof of competence.
  • Pedestrian roller – tarmac gangs use these every day, few with any information, instruction & training)

How to get a win-win

A ‘win-win’ for me is when you keep your clients happy at the same time as moving towards excellent internal standards of training.

If we assume you’re already doing all the training your Client wants, here’s how you can also move the needle on internal shortfalls without breaking the bank or stopping all work completely;

  1. Identify. Do a review of training subjects NOT prioritised by the Client. Aim to start with high hazard topics (best bang for the buck in terms of safety improvements).
  2. Act. Now it’s time for action! Where it’s obvious what you need to do (e.g. book confined space training because you don’t have enough) then book it up with the best provider.
  3. Ask. If the best path forward isn’t clear, then do the following; speak to a training provider for advice before spending any money. The right provider should listen to your needs and give guidance on the way forward (In-House Vs Accredited, CPCS Vs NPORS, Grant money available etc.)
  4. Move. Get moving and do something small in the meantime. While waiting for more substantial training, do something towards the ‘information, instruction & training’ mantra, think; Toolbox Talk on the manufactures instructions do’s and don’t’s. Something is always better than nothing.
  5. Book. Get a date in the diary for the next Training Matrix review. As you know, if it’s not booked, it won’t happen, and you’ll go back to just focussing on the Clients needs.

p.s. The Client probably does give a crap about that other training, their just crazy busy focusing on a particular subject right now!

Oliver Mackenzie has been helping construction companies manage their training and safety compliance needs for over a decade. He works directly with management teams to simplify training scheme complexity, improve safety compliance, reduce training costs and maximise funding & grants.

Oliver Mackenzie, Safety Assist - Professional Health and Safety Advice

If you have questions about construction training, CITB grant, construction safety compliance and all related topics, message or call – 07399 153919

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