Any sensible finance director would be horrified to find they have bought expensive equipment, only to discover that it was almost useless three months later.

Yet this is a common scenario when it comes to paying for workplace training. Research has shown that less than 10% of all training carried out is then applied in the workplace, and up to 80% of any benefit is lost after three months if the training is not subsequently reinforced.

This research came to the attention of TTC, a Barnsley company that has been working in health and safety and training since 1993. Its big-name clients include English, Welsh and Scottish Railways, Tesco, Marconi, Scottish Power and Independent Insurance.

Evaluation is rare

TTC commercial director Robert Wood says the company saw many examples of how nationally-recognised courses were delivered with apparent success, only to find that, when it was measured, their effect on the workplace was often limited.

He says the reasons were clear: these courses were designed to educate, thus only testing the ability to absorb and retain information, while their relevance to the workplace was rarely evaluated. Yet companies failed to follow up on this evidence.

“Close scrutiny of such a poor return on investment is rare,” Wood says. “Expenditure continues to be sanctioned because training is considered to be the right thing to do, even though many accept that it may not work.

“We believe that ownership is the key and that for training to be effective, it should be implemented by those who are responsible for achieving results.”

TTC has spent the past six years developing a heath and safety training system that is practical and simple to use but improves understanding and communication in the workplace and can be reinforced regularly to ensure that the benefits do not diminish.

“Instead of providing training to a company then walking away, we've provided solutions within the workplace,” Wood said.

The training through communication system was designed for companies with more than 20 employees. But it can be adapted to any industry and customised to address a workplace's individual issues. It includes guidelines on how customise the system through research on the workplace, which Wood says is also useful as evidence, should it be needed for regulatory bodies or insurance purposes.

A practical system

The CD-Rom package, which was launched two months ago, includes 17 slides, speakers' notes, test and marking sheets, record forms and reference booklets for £449. For an extra cost, TTC will include four new modules each year and regular updates. Users can also add their own sheets through Powerpoint.

“The short, sharp 30-minute sessions encourage feedback and debate, enabling issues to be raised and addressed,” Wood says.

“Although it's legislation-compliant we try to keep away from legislation, which is for health and safety professionals.

“This is very practical, it's designed for people in the workplace.”

It covers issues such as the Health & Safety at Work Act, communication, accidents and awareness, the role of the supervisor, safety management, risk assessment and safety auditing. It can be used for awareness and refresher training, induction and management briefings. Wood says the product has been embraced by insurers and brokers, who could see that it could represent long-term savings for them.

“The interest we're getting from insurers and brokers is based on helping their clients reduce insurable risk,” he says.

“Many companies have nothing at all in place in terms of health and safety and they need help.”