Many well-crafted, generic training programs cover common safety issues. Yet sometimes you can benefit from a customized program tailored to unique safety training needs at one or more of your sites.

Tapping the experts

Joint venturing for a specific program with an established safety training provider carries significant benefits. Many vendors routinely produce videos, CD-ROMs, computer-based training programs and print materials. Training producers also understand the complex issues of compliance, regulations, industry specifics, adult learning strategies and what is required for effective safety training.

Many industry leaders are tapping this expertise to obtain quality, site-specific training at lower costs. Companies find that a joint venture with an experienced producer/vendor is the most cost-effective means of obtaining customized safety training materials.

Employee training is most effective when the materials presented are specific to the daily tasks and environment of the worker, according to many adult learning experts. This holds true for environmental, health and safety training in the workplace. Customized safety training products with a company logo, actual site footage and specific work practices and actual job functions all aid retention and effective learning.

Joint venturing is a process where a company pays a safety training producer/vendor to create company-specific training program(s). The result of a successful joint venture is that the company receives a tailor-made, specific training program for less cost than producing the same program independently, relying on in-house resources. Additionally, workers gain increased motivation to recognize potential hazards by viewing a safety program filmed at their own site, featuring their own uniforms and logos, and addressing the specific situations and hazards they face on a daily basis.

Win-win situation

In a mutually beneficial joint venture, the safety training company fully researches each of the safety training programs it plans to produce. An in-house production team then consults not only with regulatory and safety officials, but also receives in-depth advice from industry leaders, manufacturers and academic safety experts. These extra research and production efforts enable the safety training provider to produce a technically accurate and realistic program, which is then applied to the specific safety training needs of the joint venture partner.

The company receives high-quality, customized training programs, and the safety training provider improves its knowledge base to craft further, more generic programs on the topic. A successful joint venture allows companies to get a program that meets all their training requirements at a fraction of the cost of a custom produced program.

Total program development

A seasoned safety training vendor and producer is experienced in providing all aspects of program development from research, concept development, creative treatment, scripting, production on site, and graphics and professional narration to enhance the presentation. In most cases, the joint venture partner also receives a master program for unlimited duplication and continued internal training.

A successful joint venture enables the safety training provider to transfer the best safety practices into other training programs it produces. This cross-fertilization enhances safety training in general.

Shrewd safety training providers maintain an overall strategy of fully engaging their customers and clients. Adequate safety training is not merely cost prevention measures. Nor is minimum compliance with OSHA and safety regulations the end goal of workplace safety. Rather, compliance is a by-product of an overall commitment to worker well-being. Safety training makes sense because it's the right thing to do. And because it's the right thing to do, it also makes for good business. Finally, joint ventures make for good business and excellent safety training.

SIDEBAR: Partnership delivers the goods for Frito-Lay

Frito-Lay, a world leader in snack foods, with facilities around the country, understands the benefits of joint venturing in safety training. Their recent goal was to purchase safety training materials that furthered Frito-Lay's development with the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) process while also protecting their delivery workers.

In 2000 the company entered into a joint venture production with Summit Training Source, in Grand Rapids, Mich., for a safety program for route sales delivery workers entitled, "Delivering the Goods." The relationship between Frito-Lay and Summit Training has grown to include two further joint venture productions and general safety promotion involvement.

One came when Summit hosted Tom Jacob, corporate operations safety manager for Frito-Lay, Inc. in January of 2001. Addressing Summit staff as well as local area business leaders, Jacob gave a presentation on OSHA's VPPs, praising the VPP as the best possible program in environmental health and safety and worker protection.

Jacob's presentation outlined the VPP and the benefits of company participation. After the session, Jacob commented about the importance of quality safety training: "The VPP process is comprehensive, it involves every aspect of a facility or site. Continued participation in VPP simply requires high-quality safety training that holds the attention of employees."

Jacob continued, "Frito-Lay has established a vision to be the safest workplace in North America. The VPP actually gets everyone at Frito-Lay thinking positively about safety - it really works."

Currently, 697 companies belong to VPP in both its federal and state affiliates. Companies participating in VPP try not to see compliance as the ultimate goal of their safety efforts. Instead, they foster an understanding that an excellent health and safety culture is a requirement for success in the competitive global market. Shareholders are increasingly demanding attention to environmental and health concerns, including worker safety. Success necessarily entails a safety strategy that goes beyond OSHA requirements.

VPP participant sites generally experience from 60 percent to 80 percent fewer lost workday injuries than would be expected of an "average" site of the same size in their industries.