In the manufacturing sector, training was once primarily carried out informally and on the job. In short, it was a sector where new workers were often expected to learn the ropes from experienced workers on the shop floor, often with little guidance or oversight from managers. Today, a growing number of manufacturers are developing formal training programs and in some cases, even developing company-based schools and/or formal partnerships with local technical colleges. The manufacturing sector is also increasingly embracing new models of delivery, including the adoption of learning management platforms. Below are three reasons why training is essential for the manufacturing sector.
Conflict Resolution in Industrial Facilities
When tempers flare and conflicts get out of hand in an industry facility, the consequences can be fatal. Unlike an office environment, people working in industrial facilities are typically working alongside potentially dangerous and powerful machines, tools and vehicles. As a result, a conflict that turns physical—from a fistfight to a shoving match—can have far more serious consequences in an industrial setting than in an office setting. Likewise, while two office workers ignoring their computer screens while engaging in a conflict is unlikely to have any severe consequences (beyond lowering productivity), taking time out to bicker in an industrial setting can result in equipment and/or workers not being properly monitored—a situation that may in turn result in serious injuries and even fatalities. In other words, conflicts in industrial facilities not only make for an unpleasant work environment but also an unsafe work environment. Knowing how to deescalate and resolve conflicts quickly and without compromising safety is critical.
Every year, up to 100 American workers are killed in forklift-related accidents and up to 35,000 workers are seriously injured. While some of these accidents take place in the agriculture sector, most take place in the manufacturing sector. Overturned vehicles is the number one cause of forklift accidents. Other accidents are caused by collisions with materials, collisions with workers, and drivers falling from vehicles. Research suggests that the high number of forklift fatalities and injuries that occur each year is the result of inadequate training and in some cases poor on-the-floor communication (e.g., the inability of drivers to accurately determine the weight of a potential load). Proper training for forklift drivers has been proven to help reduce accidents by helping drivers better assess the condition of their vehicle, its ability to pick up loads of a specific weight, and avoid potentially dangerous on-site obstacles and collisions.
The Respectful Workplace: Redefining Workplace Violence, Managing Harmony
Workplace violence can take many forms, including discrimination based on one’s race, gender, and/or ethnic or religious background. Traditionally, many manufacturers ignored addressing discrimination in the workplace, because of a false perception that the “blue collar” sector is simply not diverse enough to warrant paying attention to such issues. After all, many manufacturers were and still are located in communities that may appear relatively homogenous—at least at first glance. Depending on the nature of the enterprise, however, a single manufacturer frequently brings together workers from around the world. In short, from warehouse managers to engineers, manufacturers often employ hundreds and even thousands of employees, and this means that their workers will invariably include workers from different nationalities, racial backgrounds, and religious groups.
As discussed in our recent series of posts on diversity in the workplace, diversity is good for business and in many respects, it is the future of work. In the coming decades, a majority of US workers will identify as a visible minority. To date, some businesses, including those in the manufacturing sector, have yet to fully embrace diversity by taking steps to ensure that difference is never a barrier or source of aggression and violence in the workplace. For this reason, respect training is another key training essential in manufacturing.
For more on this subject, see our Manufacturing Essentials package.