One of the priority elements of risk management in an organization involves Safety & Compliance Training. This is the training that is required via regulation, policy or legislation for both employees and management. The training is education for everyone regarding the regulations and laws that are applicable to their job as it relates to their industry. Good compliance training helps to reduce and even prevent poor conduct and assists in maintaining proper organizational governance. Each step-in compliance training works towards the reduction of risk while maintaining a better work environment and company reputation.
Research by Brandon Hall Group indicated that Safety & Compliance Training is critical to 49% of the businesses that were surveyed. The study also showed that there were external compliance audits facing around 77% of the companies and yet only 49% of the companies surveyed felt that they were ready for the audits.
The Many Reasons for Compliance Training
There are both legal and social responsibilities surrounding Safety & Compliance Training and each type of training addresses specific topics. The public and staff deserve to be able to be in a safe environment in a company without fear of harassment or danger. All client and customer information and data should be protected in privacy and free from the possibility of theft. The laws surrounding the level of compliancy are established to maintain security and safety. When a company doesn’t have proper compliancy training, they are at risk for legal actions, fines, and potential financial ruin. Compliancy training should be considered as a focus for every organization’s risk management strategy.
Compliance within a company can:
Create a safe workplace.
Minimize legal action risks.
Reduce absenteeism due to mental health issues and injuries.
Guard the reputation of a business.
Secure company insurance
How Compliance Training Came About
In the early 1900s compliance mostly involved regulations that were designed to protect the consumer. New laws and guidelines were slowly put in place ss various damaging situations occurred that blurred the lines between non-ethical and ethical practices. At the heart of many of these laws were methods to protect consumers and public safety and they eventually expanded in the 20th century to include employees and workers with Safety & Compliance Training.
The emergence of organizations cultures that we see today began in the 1950s and 1960s and with them there appeared a more centralized government to oversee company actions and responsibilities as part of a societal structure. This was the time that HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) was established. By the 1970s we saw the emergence of new government regulatory agencies such as the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), . As each new group was created, they used research to discover the necessity for additional laws and requirements to overcome areas that companies were using for less than ethical actions. 1991 brought the U.S. Sentencing Commission which established federal sentencing guidelines for any organization involved in non-compliance. This was an essential step in helping to ensure ethical behavior by organizations. As time has progressed new guidelines have been added to adjust to the changing conditions of doing business and Safety & Compliance Training strategies are now part of risk management systems in a majority of organizations.
Penalties for Lack of Compliance
Penalties for companies that are noncompliant depend upon the type of violation(s), the state that the violation occurred in (for state guidelines), and the law(s)/regulations that it violated, in the event this resulted in injury there is a good chance OSHA would become involved. While previously mentioned in general, there are several punishments that go beyond just legal ramifications.
In more recent years data security has been a main topic of compliancy as organizations haven’t taken severe enough steps to ensure patient data has been protected. A 2018 situation involving a medical care organization resulted in a $3.5 settlement to settle the many violations that occurred. When a publicly listed company is reported to have non-compliancy accusations and infractions, the stock market value can plummet to a point where it may never recover.
The lack of complying with laws can result in a litany of lawsuits that appear from many sources. These can occur from those that suffered due to the non-compliance action all the way to staff or the public that incurred injuries or deaths due to Safety & Compliance Training requirements not being followed. The costs associated with lawsuits have been enough to bankrupt companies.
Another penalty has been jail time for the CEO and/or executive officers that knowingly created the condition of non-compliance.
Types of Compliance Training
The term “compliance training” is a kind of umbrella word that covers a variety of different areas. Different locations and industries require various types of compliance training and each one has specific guidelines for completion. Some of the compliance training in the U.S. includes courses on:
Anti-harassment: Guidance and methods of responding to incidents of harassment bullying, and sexual harassment. There needs to be clear measures for the definitions and associated behaviors as well as strategies designed to respond to the behaviors. Intervention strategies are typically also included as part of the training.
OSHA Workplace safety: Each state has specific workplace safety guidelines that have been established by their individual Occupational Safety and Health Administration departments to ensure the safety and protection of employees and the public.
Violence in the workplace: Employee training to assist both managers and employees identify the language and behavior that are signals to a potential escalation to violence. The training includes a variety of actions and intervention methods as an attempt to circumvent the escalation.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Information Security training: The governing rules of HIPAA relate to quite a few different types of CEs (Covered Entities) and BAs (Business Associates). HIPAA security training would be designed for the individuals as it relates to how they carry out their functions.
Diversity training: The training focuses on the empowerment of diversity and the appropriate ways to work with people of different genders, ages, sexual orientations, ethnicities, physical or mental abilities, etc. Employees are guided in the ways to see value in diversity and the various perspectives that can be positive input.
Data Protection/Cyber Security: These are two overlapping topics that intertwine into the topic of privacy. Staff should be educated on all methods used by cyber criminals to access company information as well as actions that are taken for business technology devices to ensure their protection and the protection of the information they contain. Compliance training should also include identifying the requirements of protecting PII (Personally Identifiable Information) as well as personal data.
Company Business Ethics: An organization needs to have a clearly defined code of ethics that is available to every staff member. The ethics should have descriptions of what the company considers to be corrupt behavior, all “grey areas” as well as conflict of interest and the disciplinary actions that are taken when they are not complied with.
General Workplace Safety: Compliance training on situations that occur outside of the standard OSHA training can include emergency preparedness actions for fire, earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado as well as basic first aid training.
Requiring that employee’s complete compliance training is not only beneficial for the company but demonstrates that a business is professional and takes transparency and respect seriously. Having compliance training for staff also acts as an encouragement for those working in a company in knowing that they have a safe and responsible environment.
Good compliance training criteria involves many elements to ensure that the topics are covered in an appealing and educational way while giving valuable information that ensures safety and efficacy. Some of the benefits that should be included in effective compliance training are:
Well-informed leaders: The leadership and management of an organization is the pinnacle to a successful culture. These are the individuals that must be aware of all rules, laws, and guidelines as well as the goals of the company. Maintaining a well-informed leadership team includes assuring that they are aware of critical changes that occur within the industry and environment. Delegation of responsibilities to leaders within the organization helps to ensure that everyone is informed.
Relevant Information: Compliance training requires that all information is new and up to date. This includes both external and internal regulations that can be specific to a job, location, department, material, or product. Additional updates should be included to incorporate any changes within the industry or functions.
Risk Analysis: Identifying and addressing any high-risk areas should be a priority for compliance training to incorporate control measures to reduce any conditions that would put an employee or the company in a position of non-compliance.
Easily Accessible Training: The benefits of today’s online training allow a company to have compliance training available for all staff without the stress of a classroom-style condition. The compliance training should be available during working hours as both an encouragement and an example of company commitment. The format of the compliance training should include the ability to stop and then restart where the employee left off in cases of time constraints.
Making Compliance Training a Requirement: Many companies are in industries that involve specific types of safety hazards. Due to this factor, organizations are making compliance training a requirement for hiring and completion of compliance training is done prior to an employee starting to work.
Compliance Training as a Tool for Improvement: Not every staff member may glean all of the information from completing their compliance training. In situations where an employee seems to be struggling with the information compliance training can be a refresher tool for improvement for employee performance. The training can also act as a tool for the organization when they see repetitive problems in specific areas that may not have been a focus.
Having compliance training that is an effective learning solution is an important part of making sure that all employees not only understand applicable laws but follow internal company policies and legal regulations that involve their daily roles.
Compliance Training FYI’s
Trying to create an in-house compliance training program is almost a Herculean task. The best option is to look to those that have already created exceptional compliance training that matches your industry. There are a few important areas that you will want to focus on including:
Identifying regulations and legislation that is specific to your industry that need to be satisfied with compliance training.
Examine the criteria that is offered in the compliance training courses to ensure that all topics of compliancy are met.
Check to make sure that the compliance training programs are updated with current information, guidelines, and laws.
Review some of the compliance training courses to ensure that they engage the viewers in a meaningful way, maintain their attention, and offer valuable information that will help in their jobs.
Review the compliance training tests to make sure they address the topics covered and demonstrate that a staff member understands the compliancy requirements and laws.
Look to see that the compliance courses are available online 24/7.
Check for the ability to have management or supervisory observations for staff status as they go through the compliance training process.
Make sure that each compliance training program completion includes a certification document.
Many organizations are turning to partner companies that have already established an efficient and credible compliance training program to accommodates their needs. These are much more cost-effective than trying to design their own and gives their company an air of good standing with their clients and customers.