Effective Safety Training: Making a Difference
Recently, I had a request to provide site specific HAZMAT and Incident Command training for one of our clients in Virginia. This company is a meat packing plant and deals with highly hazardous chemicals, such as anhydrous ammonia. As one of the principal trainers for NASP, I primarily teach for Safety Directors and other management personnel. This class was an exception; these were hourly employees.
Upon arrival, I quickly realized that I was going to face challenges. The room itself wastoo small and not set up appropriately for adult training, which we emphasize in our CSM classes. The poor Safety Manager was so short-staffed, that he had accidentally booked training in the same room in which he had scheduled my training at the same time. The first class was to start at 8:00am, and at that point, only two students had bothered to show up. He literally had to start calling supervisors to get the others to come; students would randomly stroll in, obviously displeased to be there. This continued for three days.
Some of the employees were coming off a 12 hour shift and were required to sit through (and dress out for) an additional 8 hour of training. Really?!? Management had cut the incentives for being on the team; their position was that it was a part of the job. Their $200 bonus had been taken away, and replaced with nothing – zero recognition for being on the team; not a T-shirt, a hat, a jacket or a lunch. Not even an acknowledgement in the form of a ‘thank-you’ from the Plant Manager… who didn’t bother to make an appearance during our mock HAZMAT spill scenario complete with full dress out, responding to the leak, decon, and incident termination. It was quite disappointing.
I quickly realized that this training was going to be about more than simply training on the proper response to anhydrous ammonia. As with most safety training, it was going to be an opportunity for employees to express concerns, to acknowledge these concerns and regenerate employee morale. It was to be an exercise in team-building despite management’s unwillingness to reward it. I abandoned some of the technical material that I wanted to cover, and, instead, spent more time on round-table discussions, ‘what-if’ scenarios and suggestions on improving their system. I got them talking, laughing and sharing. To be honest, I wasn’t sure of our success; however, at the end of the last days, I had one of the quieter students approach me. He hadn’t talked much, hadn’t smiled at all, but he seemed to be attentive throughout the session. He told me he had worked at this plant for 17 years and this was the best training he had been through. I must admit, that’s a good feeling.
We’ve all been there. Teaching a class in which no one wants to participate. Preaching the safety message when everyone else is preaching a different message. But it is our job to take that opportunity and make the best of it. A couple of suggestions when setting up and providing the training:
• NEVER send someone to safety training after their shift
• Make certain classroom is set up properly and sized appropriately for your students
• Avoid using long, dull safety videos; this is simply an opportunity for students to doze off
• Incentivize student participation while training. If someone answers a tough question, reward them with a piece of candy or other treats.
• Make certain you provide adequate breaks for longer training sessions. Break for ten minutes per hour on average.
• Show enthusiasm and excitement for your topic. This is especially difficult if you are teaching the same class repeatedly.
• ‘Build up’ your students; compliment them on their participation. Use phrases like ‘excellent question’, and ‘great example’. And ALWAYS thank them for being there.
Effective safety training is the heart and soul of a safety culture. It is difficult to change employee attitudes and behaviors. It is impossible if you have no management support. We will be discussing how to get that ‘buy-in’ from management in upcoming newsletters. To become a more effective safety manager and/or safety trainer, attend our next CSM Course scheduled in Las Vegas in February 2017.
OSHA Delays New Injury Reporting Mandate
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and other companies have argued releasing injury information for public consumption “will lead others to make inaccurate conclusions, open manufacturers up to retaliation and sacrifice privacy.” Companies are already required to report the information to OSHA, but the agency says public injury reporting will give employers more reason to increase workplace safety. Employers say OSHA is overstepping its bounds. The rule, they argue, would unlawfully prohibit critical safety incentive programs and mandatory post-incident drug testing that make workplaces safer. The far-reaching nature of the rule could open employers up to OSHA fines if their safety programs aren’t compliant with the new reg. Employers should prepare to take the following steps:
• review your existing workplace injury and illness reporting procedures with company brass and safety personnel to ensure your policies are compliant, and
• train employees on new reporting procedures and make sure they know their rights.
New Hydrogen Sulfide Online Course Available Soon