Safety training improvement

A strong safety program should be in place to drive safety culture in the workplace.

Training is the cornerstone of the risk management process as research has shown that participants are likely to remember 10 per cent of what they hear, 51 per cent of what they see and hear, and 92 per cent of what they see hear and become involved in.

It’s for this reason I am of the opinion competency-based training is very important as it is integral to explain what needs to be done, demonstrate what needs to be done, and finally observe the activity being correctly done and provide feedback whilst documenting the training.

A strong safety program should be in place to drive safety culture in the workplace. An effective safety training approach can act to reduce incidents, illnesses and set the scene for well-developed consultation and communications systems at work. It is important organisations evaluate training to identify where improvements can be made.

Employee induction is a very important foundation in safety. Such training should occur prior to works and if focused on a competency-based platform then risk will likely be reduced going forward.

Whilst general induction ideally covers company policy and procedure documentation, a site-specific induction should follow. A site-specific induction allows employees to understand the health and safety requirements of their work areas. A site-specific induction may include the whereabouts of fire and emergency equipment, personal protective equipment, and local hazards and controls.

Some companies produce periodic safety bulletins covering different areas of safety in addition to various topics cleaners need to know about.

These bulletins are distributed to all cleaners and managers and over time collect to form a library of relevant information. These bulletins then become agenda items for site specific induction in addition to site specific toolbox meetings.

Contract managers of course facilitate the training on site. As such, it is important that their safety training is regular, relevant and current. Many companies engage the services of online training courses for managers so they can upskill in various areas of safety and human resources and do so at their own pace.

Wherever possible it is important that subcontractors receive safety bulletins also, and where relevant that subcontractors are involved in general and/or site-specific training. It is important that contractors receive the relevant training before commencing works and this training is well documented.

Training needs assessments are very important as they detail the training needs of all those in the organisation. Surveys, inspections, and risk assessments can highlight trends that may lead to identifying additional training needs and improving the scope of training courses.

Documented training should ideally be recorded on assessment paperwork. Such assessment will act to determine if training needs are met and where one should consider ceiling and floor effects in training assessment and training programs should ideally be trialled prior to roll out.

A ceiling effect may indicate that the assessment is too easy. For example, an assessment where a score out of 30 can be attained and everyone scores 30/30. A floor effect is when the majority people score a poor grade out of 30. A trial (or pilot) of the training course is important in ensuring the training is adequate for the cleaning industry.

It is vital all training is well documented to support the training process and ensure it is fully completed from start to finish.

It is important that training needs assessments, plans and schedules are completed, and attendance records are kept. It is important that training is evaluated to identify areas for improvement.

Such strategies can include competency-based group demonstrations, supervisor observations, training assessment methods and employee feedback surveys.

Employee feedback surveys should aim to discover opinions and perceptions of cleaners in particular their opinion on methods of training delivery.

In the cleaning industry, competency-based training is just as vital as the cleaner’s opinion on how effective the training was delivered. Ultimately, organisations need to evaluate training processes to identify areas for improvement.

One of the most effective strategies a trainer can use to improve their training is to select appropriate stories for inclusion in the training.

Stories grab the attention of trainees and make them more alert noting that people tend to remember stories. The literature notes that stories are a powerful training technique because they:

  • Create an environment of trust
  • Empower the speaker
  • Engage thinking
  • Create a personal bond between listeners
  • Provide a way to learn from experience

A common technique speaker’s use in safety training and during presentations is telling a story about a tragic safety related incident.

People tend to remember these stories because they make an emotional connection and management and participants are then more likely to implement long term and lasting changes.

Where well executed then these training objectives can become part of the safety culture and fabric of the organisation.

As such, where implemented with an integrated management systems approach then such a positive training strategy can become ingrained and self-sustaining within organisational culture.

On a final note, organisations that establish and implement an effective safety training system will benefit from consistent benefits and continuous improvement.

Dr Denis Boulais is national risk manager at Broadlex Services

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