Frequently, “familiarisation” is confused with “training”. Both measures are important components of a company’s occupational health and safety plan. However, there are crucial differences.
In everyday language, the terms “familiarisation” and “training” are often used synonymously. However, they differ significantly. The most important difference is how these are referred to in the legal texts and regulations, as well as in the documents published by the DGUV statutory accident insurance association. These always refer to the duty to provide “training”. One can search in vain for the term “familiarisation”.
One could describe “familiarisation” as being a sub-process within the overall training process. However, familiarisation can also take place separately from the general training procedure. This involves specific work procedures, special operational considerations and/or safety measures. As a rule, these are unique and related to the individual workplace.
A good example of the need for familiarisation is when a new machine arrives. Normally, users know how to handle this type of machine and have been trained with respect to the general hazards involved. However, when a new type of machine is introduced, it makes sense to be trained on how to use it - something which is also often stipulated in the user manual. During the familiarisation process, the specifics of the machine are pointed out - with the help of the user manual.
Any suitable person can take someone through the familiarisation process. On the whole, it is the entrepreneur who decides which person is suitable for this task. In some cases, the manufacturers of special products also state which qualifications the person handling the familiarisation process needs to have.
Although these two measures pursue a similar goal, they should be treated completely separately. Training ranks higher than familiarisation and is normally done according to a specific agenda.