It pays to train

Training matters

Daniel Thompson.
Daniel Thompson.

Daniel Thompson, group quality assurance/quality control manager for Saif Bin Darwish, says plant and site manager time spent training staff is time well spent.

If you are responsible for a company or a construction site employing a few hundred workers, and I were to ask, would you let an untrained person work on your site? I would hope you would reply by saying a firm: No.

But I am afraid the reality is far different. On my numerous journeys across the UAE, I see many examples of sites where it would appear simple and basic training has been sadly omitted from the construction manager’s agenda for that morning.

I imagine this situation is brought about by some, if not all, of the following occurrences.
• Cost: It will cost me a fortune to train all my staff.
• Time: While they are training they are not producing work.
• Ignorance: Why do they need training? I never had training! And what’s so wrong anyway?

At Saif Bin Darwish no training budget has been set by the managing director. If training is required – it is provided. And no allowance is taken for the time taken to deliver the course or seminar or instructions.
An informed and safe worker is more profitable alive and producing work than a non-productive
dead one.

The UAE, and Abu Dhabi in particular, has seen a lot of growth in civil engineering and construction companies over the last 40 years since Saif Bin Darwish started. But how many are still operational?

Part of the success that the company has enjoyed is, I feel, due to the far sightedness of a managing director and directors who stated that a quality, health, safety and environmental management system should be prepared, agreed and implemented. It’s a system which fully complies with the internationally recognised requirements of the ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.

However, unless a system is understood by the people who implement it, it will fail.

So we train our managers, our site staff and our workers. We even train our suppliers or subcontractors. All individuals working on our sites attend sufficient tuition to ensure they can do their job, can do it safely, can do it without injuring others, and can do it better, quicker, easier and more often that untrained workers.

Realistically, most people have some form of training when they produce a product.

I mean, would you get on board a plane without a trained pilot? I doubt it somehow. But many clients will willingly pay for a very expensive building, built using the labour of non-skilled workers without questioning the builder about any shortcuts he may have made, material quality he may have reduced, or accident/incident statistics they may have had during the build.

And many civil engineering and building companies employ unskilled and often unsuitable workers but fully accept, without calculating the costs, that they also pay for more people than is actually required, pay for repair/rework as part of their built costs and pay for damaged, broken or wasted materials because their workers don’t take care or know how to do a job properly. But because the project can make a profit they continue.

I say, reduce your expenses, your material wastage and your excessive labour count and calculate that cost, as it all adds up to more profit. Take a few hours today to look at your projects. Ask yourself the following five questions.

• Would I let my wife/girlfriend/husband/partner walk on this site?
• Can I walk on this site ten
paces in any direction without injury?
• How many materials in the skip are broken or damaged? Take 5 minutes to value the cost of goods inside the skip you are throwing away.
• If I reduced my site supervision would the project suffer? If yes, why?
• Does every worker on my site act in a responsible manner? If no, why?

Now ask yourself: what if I tell my boss I can revolutionise my construction site?

You can increase moral throughout the workers, get less complaints from the consultants, increase productivity, spend less on materials, reduce wastage, reduce the likelihood of repairs at a later date and more than likely reduce accidents as well.

My guess will be he or she will probably say, go ahead then and have a pay rise!

So make one of your new year’s resolutions to introduce training for your workers. Try it and after a week analyse the results. Then see where things have improved.

And if they haven’t – do them again. You as a manager already have influence over your staff, now by giving them the tools to improve; well I expect your boss will be very happy.

Be honest, you would insist your children train for their driving skills, now insist your workers train for their job skills.

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