For several years now we have utilized a 3rd party training system called Landscape Safety. This program has proven to be a great investment for us not only from meeting our legally mandated safety training requirements but it also provides us with a great training head start on how to operate dozens of different pieces of equipment both from a safety point of view but also from a practical operational side of things.
Prior to this program we utilized the Farm Safety organization. Through our WSIB premiums we did indirectly fund the program through Farm Safety. They would come once in the spring and we would have our entire company attend a half day seminar covering WHMIS and MSDS regulations as well as safety precautions for several commonly used pieces of landscape equipment. The pitfalls to this system are that we did not have flexibility to train new staff brought on throughout the year. According to the WHMIS we must provide that training within 3 days of hiring someone. It also provided blanket training to people who may never use the equipment being studied. For example, we would cover lawn mower safety and operation, but our landscapers never operate lawn mowers.
With the online system we have the ability to enforce new staff to complete their training before they set foot on a work site. If they have access to a computer and the internet they can even do it at home. Depending on what division of the company they will be working in we can tailor the individual modules to focus on what they will be working with in addition to the generic modules that everyone in the company must take. Examples of generic modules would be MSDS, WHMIS, Truck and Trailer, Personal Safety and Engines and Fuel Basics. Beyond that if the employee works on the construction side they may also be assigned Portable Stone Saw, Plate Compactor and Landscape Tractor modules. Someone on our mowing crew will study Large Mowers, String Trimmers and Blowers. This makes 100% of the training relevant to the job they will be doing. Not only does it cover the safety side of the operations it will also give tips on how to compact a patio base properly or how to use a power edger to give the yard a professional look. This doesn’t replace on the job training, but greatly reduces it. We can also assign snow and ice management modules to our winter staff in October so it’s fresh in their minds for the winter season.
The flexibility with timing and specific training make this program a great fit for us and I think provides us with a professional crew that stands out in an industry that doesn’t invest enough in themselves.