Implementing a comprehensive safety and health plan has many positive results. Industrial accidents are costly.
Indirect costs of injuries may be 20 times the direct costs, including training and compensating replacement workers; repairing damaged property; accident investigation and implementation of corrective action; scheduling delays and lost productivity; administrative expense; low employee morale, increased absenteeism and poor customer and community relations.
Beyond the benefits of cost savings to your bottom line, safety and health programmes are the right thing to do to make sure employees are safe on the job and have a high quality of life. For many organisations, a strong safety and health record is something that can be used to gain business, partnerships and community appreciation.
Employee safety and compliance training is a critical part of any overall safety programme. Safety training sets the cornerstone for a safe and productive work environment. Your workforce plays a critical role in the success of your safety and health initiatives. Workers require the basic knowledge of hazard recognition and best safety practices in order to help meet the goals of your safety plan.
Training professionals are presented with a variety of options and resources to conduct necessary occupational and employee training. With the advance of internet technologies over the past decade, more data can be presented in less time, creating rapid growth in the virtual training space.
There are many professionals who feel that online or virtual training does not have the impact that classroom training has on the individual learner.
Professionals who support online training, however, are positive that their employees comprehend and retain information at the same rate as those students who attend classroom training.
Neither party is wrong. In fact, a combination of both methods has the best results for learning. A study conducted by the United States Department of
Education found that instruction combining online and face to face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face to face instruction than did purely online instruction (Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning, 2010).
However, conflicting studies show that online training can create greater comprehension and retention of learning materials in less time than classroom training. There are pros and cons to each training method, and the training you select will depend on your specific needs.
Schuster said it would be a lot easier for companies to be under one safety body. At the moment, for example in Dubai, there are several regulatory authorities.
Legislative requirements vary from project to project - what applies on one project does not for another. In Dubai alone, there are several practices being adopted by different agencies.
Elements of effective training
“Tell me and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.” Confucius
Malcolm Knowles is a recognised leader in the development of adult learning theory. Knowles’ main focus was the notion of the material being very learner centred and the learner being very self-directed. The principles Knowles established are:
• Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction
• Experience (included mistakes) provides the basis for learning activities
• Adults are most interested in learning about subjects that have immediate relevance to their job or personal life
• Adult learning is problem-centred rather than content-oriented (Conlan, Grabowski, and Smith, 2003)
Experimental learning is an adult learning theory that is learner centred and operates on the premise that individuals learn best by experience. A good way to describe this theory is ‘learning by doing‘. Experimental learning thus has the learner directly involved with the material being studied instead of just thinking and talking about the material. This is especially important in adult learning, because simply by living, adults bring a wealth of experience to every learning situation they face.
According to this ideology, successful learning means engaging the student in the learning, whether that is in the classroom or via online courses. The only solid conclusion one can make is that the quality of the training, rather than the format of training, will determine the level of comprehension and retention. It is important to realise that not all training is created equal.
In order for training to be successful it must have a number of elements, which include:
• Clear learning objectives
• Content that is focused on the stated learning objectives
• Content tailored to the students
• Interaction between students and the training curriculum
• Application of knowledge in real or typical scenarios
Selection of training
The benefits of safety training to your organisation can be challenging to measure. Training is an intangible item and often seen as a cost centre rather than a money saver. We often measure ROI, but one can never be sure how many accidents or injuries the training prevented.
However, as a training professional, one can control the effectiveness and retention employees gain during their training experience. Whether the format is online or instructor led, taking certain measures prior to and during the training will ensure that you receive all of the benefits of your training investment.
The most important aspect of any training programme is consistency. When studying the human brain, the most common form of memory classification is based on duration - short-term and long-term memory. Short-term memories are usually founded on inconsistent, small duration memories. Short-term memories can become long-term through rehearsal and meaningful association. For example, if someone were to give you a seven digit number, you may be able to recall that number for a few seconds, perhaps a full day at the most. If the seven digit number is a phone number that you use on a daily basis you will be able to recall the number for years, even your lifetime. In this scenario, the seven digit number that began as a short-term memory became a long-term memory over time.
The goal with any training programme should be beyond memorisation. Training is futile unless the student is able to store the learned material and retain it.
Rehearsal and meaningful association are the keys to developing a successful training programme. Materials should be initially presented and reviewed to ensure retention. As our minds consolidate learned material, the material should be reviewed at spaced intervals. After a few repetitions, well structured and meaningful learning material can be repeated with intervals lasting many years. This successful learning technique is often referred to as spaced repetition.
To get the most from a training programme, the material should be presented in a clear and comprehensive manner in an environment suited to learning.
Review and interaction are critical parts of any training programme to ensure that learning is taking place. How material is presented can have a dramatic affect on the learner’s ability to understand and more importantly retain the knowledge.
In order to best determine the training format that is right for you, there are a number of questions you must ask yourself about your resources and your training population. These include:
What technology do I have available to use at my location? Do all of my sites have the same technology available? Are the students familiar with computers?
How many shifts do I have at this location? Is it feasible to bring employees into the classroom in groups? Does individual, self-paced training make scheduling around production time and shifts more efficient? Is my student population widespread? How important is the consistency of the training information?
What is the students’ current knowledge level of the subject?
Do all of the students speak and understand the same language?
Is this initial or refresher training? How often do I need to train on this subject? How many employees am I training at a time?
Does my training topic require hands-on training to meet compliance with regulations or standards?
Differences between classroom and online training
Online training does offer significant benefits in relation to cost savings, especially for large organisations or widespread employee groups, where scheduling or travel can be cost prohibitive. However, online training that does not include interactions or multiple media designs to engage students in the learning is ineffective.
When online training is produced to top standards it allows students to begin applying the skills they learn via interactions. With classroom learning, the skill development does not occur until students are back on the job.
Because the online learning environment allows students to begin applying knowledge during the course of learning, online training may result in a noteworthy time savings.
Classroom training fosters more group involvement, team building and team problem solving during the learning experience. Classroom training also allows for real time instructor-to-student interaction. This, however, may be prohibitive for students who are intimidated by asking questions or ‘saying the wrong thing’ in front of their peers.
Let’s examine a list of the major differences between online and classroom learning in the chart below:
After careful consideration of these questions, and using the chart of features of online and classroom learning, the answer to the question ‘what format should I select?’ will reveal itself. You may find that a blend of both classroom and online training is best.
For many tasks in the safety industry a class/lab approach works well. The class portion can take place in a classroom or online, with the lab taking place in the field. Forklift training is a great example of where this mix works well. Some professionals use a blend of online and classroom for initial and refresher training.
If you select an online solution, it is important that you utilise online training that has all of the elements of an effective training programme. Online training should include:
• True interactions
• Quizzes and remediation
• A messaging system for students to interact with training administrators or thought leaders
• Multiple media formats to engage the student, including video and high end graphics
• Easy to use course navigation
• Full narration of the exact text on the page
• A robust administrator or learning management system that allows the training administrator to schedule, track and manage the online courses
• Ability to easily customise courses for site specific information
Classroom training should also engage the student. If you are utilising different instructors at multiple locations, ensure that instructors are consistent with course content and testing. Encourage instructors to use multiple media formats in the curriculum, including video, to keep students engaged. Support materials such as handbooks, study guides or copies of the presentation can help students follow along during the curriculum.
Key points for successful implementation
The following points are essential for any successful strategy for implementing safety training:
It is vital that any organisation understands exactly why they are implementing an EH&S training programme. What benefits are you seeking? What do you hope to accomplish? By establishing specific objectives you will have a blueprint available for step-by-step implementation of the system.
Promote/sale up, down and sideways Implementation of any learning system requires company-wide promotion and participation. Every level of the organisation needs to be communicated with concerning the benefits of the programme. Convince your workers and management of the positive features of your EH&S training initiatives and share your goals in relation to achieving these initiatives.
Know your audience
A company must gauge its workers’ learning skills and abilities. Many industrial workers do not have advanced computer usage, or may not be able to read or write. If you use computer based learning, a brief overview of mouse, keyboard, and basic computer skills could prove to be a wise investment in overall training. Train your employees at a level that will ensure comprehension and retention and not overwhelm them.
Make sure the training has value
Workers should understand the positive value of the training they receive. Workers must be able to relate the training back to their overall wellbeing and quality of life, not just something the company makes them do.
Have someone accessible
An administrator or supervisor should be within reach to answer questions concerning the programme or training materials. Knowing that someone else is standing by to assist alleviates some of the anxiety for many workers.
Provide a learning environment
In addition to having someone available to assist workers taking the training, it is also important to have the training take place in an environment that facilitates learning. The training area should be free of unnecessary distractions and provide a comfortable setting for learning.
Facilitate time for training
In order to maximise the training experience, adequate time should be set aside for the worker to complete all of the training necessary.
In order to fine-tune the implementation of any online learning programme, solicit feedback from all of those involved in the training process. Encouraging positive feedback will enable you to increase the effectiveness of the training itself.
Establish criteria to measure success
What benchmarks do you have for your training programme? How do you know if you have been successful? By establishing a set of training goals early on in the implementation process, it is then possible to measure and document success along the way.
Bringing it all together
The topics you train on will depend on the specific jobs at your organisation, as well as what industry you are in. There are a number of topics that are applicable to almost all industries and also have the highest number of reported incidents year after year. These topics are a good place to start when evaluating your safety training, and include:
• Fall Protection
• Electrical Safety
• Scaffolding Safety
• Ladder Safety
• Forklifts/Powered Industrial Trucks
• Confined Space Entry
• Personal Protective Equipment
• Machine Guards
• Hazard Communication
Your safety training should cover an overview of the hazard and how to recognise the hazard in the workplace, proper usage or procedures, best work practices, and any site specific information pertaining to the topic.
With safety training, you do not have to reinvent the wheel. There are many safety training resources available from organisations that specialise in creating employee training materials.
You can also find resources through trade and safety associations, such as the National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) and the American Society of Safety
Engineers (www.asse.org). Both of these organisations have international chapters and affiliates all around the globe.
Safety training is an integral part of your overall health and safety plan. When you educate your employees on hazard awareness and best safety practices there is a direct effect on the safety culture of your workplace. Companies who implement safety training can realise a huge reduction in incidents and accidents, and an increase in employee morale and productivity. ?
• Adams, GL (1991). Why Interactive. Interactive Communications, 5
• Conlan, J, Grabowski, S, and Smith, K (2003). Adult Learning in M. Orey (Ed.) Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching and technology. Retrieved January 26, 2011, from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epitt/
• Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning. (2010). US Department of Education, 94
Sara Wesche has been with Summit Training Source for more than nine years. Her creative skill and expert writing abilities led her to the Marketing Specialist position, and ultimately managing the marketing department in 2003. Sara’s focus has been developing Summit’s World Wide Web presence, to generate sales leads through multiple medias, and to create marketing support materials that solidify Summit’s position as the complete EH&S training solution provider. Sara graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.
Sara can be reached at SaraW@safetyontheweb.com or SafetyTraining1 on Twitter.
Summit Training Source has been an environmental, health and safety training innovator for over 293 years. More than 40,000 clients worldwide trust the health and safety of their employees and work sites to Summit’s expert training capabilities. With in excess of 600 environmental, health, and safety training titles in multiple formats, including Online, DVD, Streaming Video, Summit Elements, and Online OSHA-accepted 10 and 30 Hour, Summit provides proven content that delivers the business results expected in today’s competitive global environment.
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Published: 01st Mar 2011 in Health and Safety Middle East