SLC 2018 Q&A: Don’t Crowd Out Safety and Overload Your Workforce

Sept. 19, 2018
What are the most effective ways to educate employees about safety rules and procedures?

Information overload could cause problems when it comes to educating workers about safety.

Bo Cooper and Kathleen Dobson, safety directors at Alberici Constructors, will talk to attendees about how simplify your safety messages at the 2018 Safety Leadership Conference in Louisville.

“Don’t Crowd Out Safety and Overload Your Workforce With Too Much Information,” which is in the Construction Truck, will examine basic adult learning principles and tools to educate workers.

In a Q&A with EHS Today, Dobson tells readers what to expect during the discussion which is part of the Construction track.

EHS Today: Can you offer us a description of your presentation and how it relates to safety leadership? 

Dobson: Safety directors/leaders are often the most guilty of overloading people with too much information. We create problems with too much information and it’s often difficult to overcome them without learning basic adult learning principles and simplifying the way we educate our workforce.

EHS Today: Why is the topic of your presentation of interest to you and why is it important to SLC attendees?

Dobson: We find that we overload people with rules, policies and procedures and information that is often difficult to retain – when we ask people, we learned that they can recall three or four things effectively, so the training we now emphasize is blocked out in segments of three or four. The “pick three” methodology is a good example of allowing workers to participate in their own safe work and gives them an opportunity at the beginning of their shift to identify and focus on the three most dangerous activities or situations that they could face that day.

EHS Today: Please share an example of a personal or professional experience you’ve had related to safety leadership or the topic of your presentation.

Dobson: On a project where I was a two-day visitor, I was subjected to a 7 ½ hour orientation which included “17 steps to the gate” – 17 rules that, if not followed, would result in immediate dismissal from the project. They were not posted except near the orientation trailer, and they were not provided, except in a 50-page orientation packet. Even as a safety professional, I found myself constantly looking over my shoulder to see if anyone would approach me and tell me that I violated one of these cardinal rules.  

EHS Today: What are the takeaways you hope to leave with attendees? 

Dobson: The use of simple tools to minimize overload in orientation, the “pick three” methodology for simplifying directions and providing focus and how to use emotional connections to keep people focused.

EHS Today: What do you think are some of the most pressing EHS and risk management issues facing corporate leaders and safety professionals in 2018 and beyond?

Dobson: In EHS: 

  • New technology: how does safety interact with drones, BIM, phone applications, virtual reality, microlearning
  • Dealing with violence – active shooters
  • Old adversaries and issues – silica management, crane safety, opioids
  • Relationships – management of change, OSHA (focus areas – heat, falls, safe workplaces)
  • ISO 45001 and other OHSMS

In risk management:

  • Case management and keeping workers at work.
  • Looking at leading indicators rather than EMR, DART, RIR and getting owner/clients to “buy-in” to looking at the here and now of a safety program rather than what happened
  • Opioids 

EHS Today: How will this session help attendees be a better resource for their employees and company?

Dobson: We hope it will help them understand that keeping things simple is often safer, and that’s something they can take to the bank.

(EHS Today's 2018 Safety Leadership Conference and America’s Safest Companies Awards Program will take place Nov. 6-8 in Louisville, KY at the Hyatt Regency Louisville. This event is designed to share best leadership, risk management, compliance and safety practices with EHS professionals hoping to achieve world-class safety at their companies. The conference features 24 sessions across four performance tracks; Safety & Risk Management, Compliance, Construction and Safety Technology.)

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