The Greatest Threat To Safety Might Be Your Safety Training

The Greatest Threat To Safety Might Be Your Safety Training

Latest article by By Phil La Duke on his blog: http://philladuke.wordpress.com/

The training (both formally and informally) worker’s receive in the first 90 days tends to make the most lasting impression on how they will behave in the workplace. Are you training them to make safe choices or simply checking the box of compliance. The answer to that question can cost your company millions and literally mean the difference between life and death. I hope you will give this week’s post a read, and if you find it worthwhile share it with others. And as always, I’d love to hear what you think.

To assert that most safety training sucks is to reveal no great insight; it’s practically an O’Henry short story: training professionals steer clear of safety courses for fear they might miss some important point and imperil the learners and safety professionals lack the requisite knowledge of knowledge of adult education to construct an effective course. The result is well-intentioned organizations wasting millions annually on weak safety training that not only doesn’t protect workers; it puts them at risk.

There are a couple of basic things you have to decide whether you believe or not before you can draw any accurate conclusion. First, you either believe that safety training protects workers or you do not. (It’s something of a mute point, because in most countries Safety training is required.  It’s not required to be good mind you it’s just required that people complete it.) Second, you either believe existing safety training is sufficient or it is not.

Researchers in adult learning paint a fairly bleak picture of training in general.  Research has shown that up to 85% of the skills learned in training courses is lost before it ever has a chance of making it to the workplace, and further research shows that no skills taught in a class are retained unless the skills are applied within 48 hours of the course.

Before we continue I should make something clear. I use the term “training” not “learning” not “teaching” and not “education”. I know some people bristle at the term, “you train dogs, not people” but I was taught the difference between teaching and training through the following analogy: “you might be in favor of your sixth grade daughter receiving sex education in school, but you probably don’t want her getting sex training”.  Some of you might be offended by that example (lighten up) but I think it creates a visceral mental image of the precise difference between training and teaching.  As far as I’m concerned, education is learning ABOUT something and training is learning how to DO something.

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Phil LaDuke

Phil LaDuke

Principle and Partner at ERM
Phil LaDuke
Phil La Duke is a principle and partner in Environmental Resources Management (ERM) a leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, and social consulting services. With over 140 offices in 40 countries and nearly 6,000 top professionals, ERM can help you wherever you find yourself doing business. At ERM we are committed to providing a service that is consistent, professional, and of the highest quality to create value for our clients. Over the past five years we have worked for more than 50% of the Global Fortune 500 delivering innovative solutions for business and selected government clients helping them understand and manage the sustainability challenges that the world is increasingly facing. Phil works primarily in the Performance and Assurance practice at ERM; a speaker, author, consultant, trainer, provocateur…Phil La Duke wears many hats. As an expert in safety, training, organizational development, and culture change, Phil and ERM can help you motivate your workforce, conduct safety performance assessments, help you to build robust training infrastructures, craft interventions to improve how your work place values safety, provide insights to your executive staff, and craft and execute business solutions. If you’re interested in what Phil La Duke and ERM can do for you, or if you would like to inquire about employment opportunites at ERM, contact Phil at phil.laduke@erm.com

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