Classroom training in food and workplace safety, despite its necessity, is not enough to produce the expected results. Experience shows that front-line workers continue to make mistakes, sometimes critical ones, even after classroom training and successful testing seemingly confirmed comprehension of the key learning objectives. The incorporation of knowledge gained from classroom training and consistent application of it in day-to-day operations is a commonly misunderstood facet of training. An employee who attends classroom lectures and scores well in examinations is presumed to comprehend the training’s subject matter. Yet if food safety protocols and procedures do not translate to appropriate employee behavior on the line, knowledge may fade just as quickly as it does for college students who cram for a final exam and inevitably forget most of what they studied within days after taking the test.
Companies generally acknowledge the need for follow-up or refresher training to remedy bad habits and inconsistent employee behaviors, but all too often they lack the time and/or resources to reconvene a classroom training session. Inability to measure or ensure the retention of food safety and quality knowledge exposes the food manufacturer or processor to potential major risks and failure to achieve compliance to the satisfaction of the FDA, USDA, or third-party auditors. The FDA’s own study corroborates the idea of ineffective training as a contributing factor to recent food recalls.
Many companies rely on front-line supervisors to ensure food safety programs are followed and to correct non-compliances, even though they may lack supervisory training and adequate tools. These responsibilities along with refresher training “on the fly” require more documentation and a greater time commitment than some supervisors are afforded or skilled to deliver. For effective management, supervisors are expected to document and track employee mistakes in each worker’s personnel file. Unfortunately competing responsibilities to assure production goals are met tend to take priority over refresher training. In this typical scenario, what is lost is the ability to coach employee behaviors that consistently keeps the focus on safe practices. In fact, overlooking the importance of behavioral change through coaching is to ignore a leading indicator of food safety and quality compliance.| | | Next → | Single Page