PestSure Blog

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On-the-Job Training Essentials


A well-designed on-the-job training program is essential for ensuring that employees acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their jobs effectively and safely. This is especially important in the pest control industry.

At the 2022 PestSure Safety and Loss Prevention Meeting, Mark VanderWerp, manager of education and training with Rose Pest Solutions in Detroit, presented how he has developed effective on-the-job training programs that deliver both safety and technical proficiency.

“A lot of on-the-job training programs are written from a technical standpoint but are not safety driven, and that needs to change,” says VanderWerp. “The pest control industry has a lot of exposure to safety hazards in the common tasks technicians perform every day.”

Common exposures like checking and installing bait stations, performing applications with a backpack sprayer, pulling hoses, climbing ladders or using extension poles to remove spider webs or stinging insect nests, carrying heavy items and crawling under things are the leading causes on-the-job injuries.

Many of these injuries can be avoided by establishing a consistent and comprehensive on-the-job training program that demonstrates safe work methods.

OJT Best Practices

Most on-the-job training programs fall short when it comes to safety because managers fail to understand the importance of repetition.

“Adding safety to on-the-job training is not a one and done occurrence,” says VanderWerp. “Training must be repetitive, data-based and tailored to the individual employee. If you watch a technician doing a task incorrectly, then the training is not complete.”

Here are some essential elements for developing a good on-the-job training program:

Set Clear Objectives: The program should have clear and specific goals and objectives that align with the company's overall strategy (and address their biggest exposures) and the individual employee's role.

Use A Structured Approach: The training program should be structured and organized to help employees progress through the training modules in a logical sequence, building upon their existing knowledge and skills.

Get Out in the Field: The training program should provide ample opportunities for employees to practice, apply and demonstrate what they have learned in a real-world setting, not the classroom.

Feedback and Evaluation: After you show them how to perform the task, have them show you and provide feedback to help them understand how they are performing and where they need to improve

Flexibility: The program should be flexible and adaptable to meet the individual learning styles and needs of employees. Engage the learner and figure out what they know and what they need to know.

Provide Resources and Support: Employees should have access to the resources and support they need to succeed, such as job aids, manuals, and mentors.

Secure Buy In: Get technicians interested in the topic, let them know why it is important for them to learn about the topic and how it will protect them on the job. Also, review past incidents with employees – everyone thinks it won’t happen to them or coworkers.

Keep it Current: The program should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to ensure that it remains current and effective.

By incorporating these essential elements into an on-the-job training program, pest control companies can help ensure that their employees receive the training and support they need to perform their jobs “safely” and contribute to the success of the organization.

Avoiding Pitfalls with On-the-Job Training

Acknowledging that everyone learns differently and training to strengths and weaknesses is easier said than done. Creating an effective on-the-job training program requires open lines of communication and trust.

“Companies can get lost in tunnel vision and revert to rolling out one size fits all training programs that don’t work over the long haul,” says VanderWerp.

On-the-Job Training Pitfalls

  1. Unstructured and undocumented
  2. Training modules that are TLDR – Too Long; Didn’t Read
  3. Staffing shortages force everyone to rush training.
  4. OJT without safety could be On the Job Trauma.

PestSure – Your Partner in Safety

Founded in 1980, PestSure is the only insurance and risk management provider that is 100 percent dedicated to the pest management industry. It offers industry professionals a full suite of insurance, risk management, and safety training and education offerings.

PestSure provides insurance, safety and risk management consulting to pest management companies representing $2 billion in revenue, $750 million in payroll and more than 16,500 service vehicles. The program is administered by Alliant Insurance Services.

Call 888.984.3813 or visit our contact page for more information.

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