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Risk Management & Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Safety Training Methods

When conducting on-site safety and health visits, I often times find that those individuals who are designated the role of safety coordinators or representatives are not aware of other forms of training, one specifically called Risk Management (RM). So, during the safety audit, I ask the company representative to describe for me how they conduct their safety training. Usually, the answer I receive is along the lines that they rely on “Tool Box Topics” to provide the training for them.

However, when I explain to them that I want them to tell me about a specific workplace training hazard such as machine guarding, fall protection and emergency action planning, they seem to think that the Tool Box Topics captures all of the safety training requirements.

They are only partially correct. I generally advise them to consider incorporating the five steps of Risk Management prior to providing training. Listed below, you will find the five steps of RM that should be taken into consideration in an effort to aid in implementing and supporting your respective safety training program.

Step 1: Identify the Hazard. This step is used to identify hazards within an operation/activity/workplace. A hazard can be defined as any real or potential condition that can cause workplace degradation, injury, illness, death to personnel or damage to or loss of equipment or property. Experience, common sense, and specific RM tools help identify real or potential hazards.

Step 2: Assess the Hazard. Risk is the probability and severity of loss from exposure to the hazard. The assessment step is the application of quantitative or qualitative measures to determine the level of risk associated with a specific hazard. This process defines the probability and severity of a mishap that could result from the hazard based upon the exposure of personnel or assets to that hazard. Rank the risks in terms of overall impact, addressing the highest risks with the most impact to the operation/activity first.

Step 3: Develop Controls and Make Decisions. Investigate specific strategies and tools that reduce, mitigate or eliminate the risk. Effective control measures reduce or eliminate one of the three components (probability, severity or exposure) of risk.

Step 4: Implement Controls. Once risk control strategies have been selected, an implementation strategy needs to be developed and then applied by management and the workforce. Implementation requires commitment of time and resources.

Step 5: Supervise & Evaluate. RM is a process that continues throughout the life cycle of the system, workplace, or activity. Leaders, supervisors and individuals at every level must fulfill their respective roles in assuring controls are sustained over time.

There are advantages and disadvantages to various training delivery methods and formats (e.g., classroom, computer-based, hands-on training). Given the multitude of training requirements a company must address, it is best to present various training delivery methods and tools, rather than rely solely on a “one-method-fits-all” program.

The flexibility of mixing and matching training program components allows managers to easily and efficiently adjust to changing regulatory requirements and budget constraints. Often, the delivery of well-designed computer-or Internet-based training can offer dramatic cost savings. However, less expensive training doesn’t necessarily translate into better training or regulatory compliance. Managers should always have more than one training tool in their toolbox!

Additional training methods that can enhance the effectiveness of your training program include hands-on and class room training.

Hands-On Training

Experiential, or hands-on, training has several strengths:

  • It is effective for training in new procedures and new equipment.
  • It is immediately applicable to trainees’ jobs.
  • It allows trainers to immediately determine whether a trainee has learned the new skill or procedure.

Hands-on techniques include:

  • Cross-training. This method allows employees to experience other jobs, which not only enhances employee skills but also gives companies the benefit of having employees who can perform more than one job.
  • Demonstrations. Demonstrations are an excellent way to teach employees to use new equipment or to teach the steps in a new process. They are also effective in teaching safety skills.
  • Coaching. Coaching focuses on the individual needs of an employee and is generally less formal than other kinds of training. A manager, supervisor, or veteran employee serves as the coach, answering questions, correcting errors, and providing support and feedback for an employee whose performance could stand to improve.
  • Apprenticeships. Apprenticeships combine supervised training on the job with classroom instruction in a formal, structured program that can last for a year or more.
  • Drills. Drilling is a good way for employees to practice skills. Evacuation drills are effective when training emergency preparedness, for example.

Classroom Training

  • Classroom or instructor-led training can be resource-intensive, both in terms of time and money, but as part of your overall training program, it can be extremely effective.

Classroom training strategies include:

  • Blackboard or whiteboard. This “old-fashioned” method can be effective, especially if you invite trainees to write on the board or ask for feedback about what you write on the board.
  • Videos break up lectures and explain sections of the training topic or that present case studies for discussion. USF SafetyFlorida has safety videos that may be borrowed for free, to better assist you in conducting effective safety presentations. I highly recommend that you use this free resource.To access the USF DVD Library, visit https://www.usfsafetysystem.com/Videos_public/default.aspx
  • PowerPoint presentations can create customized group training sessions that are led by an instructor and can accommodate large numbers of trainees, or be used individually, allowing for easy makeup sessions for employees who miss the group session. PowerPoint presentations can be broadcast to many computers simultaneously while the instructor speaks on the content. Live interaction with the instructor is usually possible as well.
  • Storytelling. Stories, followed by debriefing questions, can be used as examples of right and wrong ways to perform skills with the outcome of each way described.
  • Webinars. With advances in technology and software, it has become increasingly easy and affordable to lead a training session remotely.

In summary, the key to ensuring that the Risk Management (RM) method is helpful, is to provide for the full involvement of the personnel actually exposed to the risks. Take the time to periodically re-evaluate RM procedures and ensure that they are workplace specific, and viewed positively by the personnel involved in the workplace and/or activity.

And finally document the training. The training should be documented to ensure there is a record of the considered hazards and mitigation strategies applied against the hazards. This documentation provides a basis for future reviews of the operation/activity to ensure the risk mitigation strategies remain effective and as a reference for others who plan to conduct similar activities.

Before you begin to assess the risks and identify the potential hazards, you must first evaluate your level of expertise. If you are not comfortable with this, it’s perfectly fine to look for a third party safety consultant or industrial hygienist. Here at the USF SafetyFlorida Consultation Program, we provide both of these services confidentially and free of charge.

Please click on the following link and submit your request http://www.usfsafetyflorida.com/Consultation-Request-Form