Only Break in Case of Emergency

June 1, 2007
Statistics do not reflect a significant drop of workplace injuries or fatalities, and further investigation of these incidents often points to deficiencies in training.

We know adult influencers such as personality characteristics, learning styles, knowledge, experiences and training attitudes play an important role in why and how they learn. So we facilitate learning experiences that factor in these influencers and translate them into a cohesive safety approach for students to use – without compromising the integrity of the information.

The litmus test for any learning approach or activity is to identify how it will improve or support a student’s ability to understand, retain and implement the knowledge or skills they have gained during a course. Our commitment to these criteria makes it easier to evaluate existing courses and prepares us to respond quicker and stronger to on-the-spot teaching opportunities.

Imagine the first day of a course and being in front of a group of 30 men ages 30 to 60 who are not certain how a non-engineer can possibly contribute to their knowledge of safety in the workplace. I needed a place to start that would help me lead them into a meaningful conversation. So I asked who would win the fight between Batman and Superman and why, and then used their responses to address the relationship of engineering to safety in the workplace.

I could not ask a startling question without having a path to relate it to the training and its relationship to their work. Years later, they still bring it up at conferences with a smile on their faces. It passed the litmus test.

That experience and more have inspired us to develop “Only-Break-in-Case-of-Emergency” approaches. Whether your program is at an initial or seasoned stage, we hope these lessons gained will assist you and your team in developing your safety learning program.

Pre-plan Safety Learning Strategies

“The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise.” – Sir John Harvey-Jones

The act of planning often is misunderstood, not attempted or done so poorly that OSHA redefined it as pre-planning (Subpart M) to sexy it up and call attention to its need in safety. Pre-plan all your learning activities – introduction, demonstration, reinforcement or evaluation – so expectations and outcomes are clearly defined and measurable.

Develop a list of all OSHA regulations, ANSI standards and industry training guidelines. OSHA segments its requirements into 1926 for construction and 1910 for general industry. Be familiar with both and incorporate best safety practices from outside industries to improve your safety training.

ANSI standards are consensus-based. However, don’t be fooled into thinking they do not apply. Citations or lawsuits can be impacted as much by what you could have done to prevent injuries and fatalities as what is required. ANSI Z490.1-2001, Accepted Practices for Safety, Health and Environmental Training, and ANSI Z359.1-P2007, Managed Fall Protection, provide user-friendly guidelines to develop your safety learning program.

Kick the Tires Before Buying

Once your company completes the exercise of pre-planning its training needs, generate a clear, concise request for services. It should be standard protocol to request training services from in-house staff and outside consultants using the same criteria. This will facilitate having instructors who are clear and committed to what type of training is needed and create clear and specific responses to the request for services.

Require short-listed teams to provide a pilot presentation of the proposed training (one module or topic) in a 60-minute timeframe.

Require a lesson plan guide that contains the adult learning objectives and outcomes, a partial lesson plan, case study format and identification of the delivery venues such as lecture, discussion, demonstration, PowerPoint or video. The presentation should be attended and evaluated by representatives of various divisions in your company: management, purchasing, legal, engineering, safety, maintenance, operations, skilled trades and in-house trainers.

Strength in Numbers

Whether you facilitate or attend training, do not attempt it solo; there is strength in numbers. On a corporate level, many companies send one representative to a training program for a variety of reasons. One, to verify the course provides what is needed and two, in hopes of saving money by expecting the person who attends to return to the company and teach other employees on the safety topic.

The pitfalls of this logic are that the training only may meet the needs of the person attending. Also, the person attending does not have anyone skilled with the content or vocabulary of the training to discuss, ask questions or brainstorm with. Finally, relying on one individual to teach a new skill or topic is ineffective.

Prizes, Rewards

Prizes can be solid training tools when properly used. They break tension, motivate learner action and make learning fun. Remember, however, that prizes, rewards and other compensation need to have a connection to the learning activity and assist the trainer in facilitating the desired behavior. When used willy nilly or too frequently, prizes become ineffective and expensive.

When learning takes place, it changes the face of how companies innovate and compete in the marketplace. Many companies do not connect the quality of safety learning programs to the profitability and efficiency of employees and facilities. Those who do experience growth and freedom because their employees have the knowledge and confidence to perform their work safely.

Moniqua Suits is learning leader for Safety Through Engineering (http://www.ste4u.com,a New Carlisle, Ohio-based company that integrates engineering and safety to raise the level of well-being for workers involved with fall protection and machine guarding and performance.

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