For any safety performance programmes, policies and procedures to be effective, the teaching, learning and assessment cycle is a key part of success. Based upon my experience, specific approaches that can be taken include:

Identifying Needs

Organisations have individuals with varying degrees of understanding on safety requirements, both on the job and in general (i.e., company policies, procedures etc).  In the first instance, it is important to understand such shortfalls by identifying what is needed and providing training specific to address needs. For my Clients, I capture this via a “Training Needs Analysis” (TNA) process, wherein, individuals are assessed relative to the job function they have, the level of associated risk and subsequently the type and depth of safety training that they require. This is the first critical step to ensure gap closure between company expectations and current capability relative to “people”.  It is important to recognise that people learn in different ways and individuals have their own unique learning styles. Identifying learning styles is pivotal for a successful learning process.

Planning Learning

A key resource within any Organisation are “people” and it is important to ensure that planning learning is not only sustainable but complements production/operational needs (i.e., for business continuity). Furthermore, there are criticalities involved in that taking key individuals “offline” for learning activities increases the Organisation’s risk potential (i.e., workers who are deemed to be Safety Critical Workers”). Following the identification stage, the TNA provides valuable input regarding recognising “who needs what training”. With this information, the Organisation can look ahead and plan a schedule for delivering training, thereby avoiding unforeseen absenteeism at critical times.

Planning not only considers the depth of training required but also “what is delivered during the learning process”. A planned lesson (i.e., structured) provides focus and direction, which is especially important to maintain attention span and prevent “drifting” into the distant horizon. I tend to have a well-structured agenda detailing what is provided, timings, duration and also when there are “comfort breaks”. This allows Learners to plan their day accordingly relative to the learning process and encourages motivation during specific sessions with questions Learners may have.

A successful TNA must also take into consideration the different learning styles. Fleming stated that learners can be grouped into four styles of learning: Visual, Aural, Reading/Writing and Kinaesthetic, abbreviated as “VARK”. Safety subjects or topics may require specific approaches and learning styles of individuals play an important contribution towards this learning process and generally involves a combination approach of all four learning modes. Specific examples of VARK related to Safety subjects are given below:

Safety Topic

Visual Aural Reading/Writing

Kinaesthetic

Safety Regulations (the Law) Yes – Discussing workplace laws Yes – HSWA 1974, see below.
Safety Procedures Yes – Watching a video Yes – Discussing Yes – Company procedures
Manual Handling Yes – Watching a video Yes – Discussing techniques Yes – Procedure Yes – Workshop
Slips, Trips and Falls Yes – Watching a video Yes – Discussing an incident Yes – Writing an incident report Yes – Workshop

The above are specific examples where the learning requirement (i.e., subject matter) requires review relative to the content (i.e., structure) and learning methodology (i.e., styles). The latter also takes into consideration that Learners retain 90% of what they say and do. The latter is pivotal for a successful learning process in safety-related matters.

Facilitating Learning

Facilitating internal training is not only less costly, but it allows greater flexibility for adjusting schedules to meet production/operational requirements. External training in Safety is very specific and requires specialist providers and courses. Planning for the latter normally takes months in advance depending on availability. Creating a positive learning environment is critical in that it is important to ensure that learners feel relaxed. The environment (i.e., room or venue) should be well laid out and comfortable. Learning should not be perceived as a chore.

Whilst the layout of the room can vary (i.e., tables and desks in rows like a classroom, tables and desks in groups, horseshoe or U-shape or boardroom style layout) the principal factor in determining the layout and the working environment is to ensure that the layout promotes and encourages learners to take actively take part. For example, if the learning process requires interaction (e.g., via workshops), tables and desks in groups is the favoured option as this encourages participation.

Assessing Learning

Training (internal or external) will require some form of assessment at the end of the training sessions and also feedback forms. The latter is especially important for “fine tuning” the training (i.e., material, timing, duration, teacher etc) to ensure the Organisations expectations are aligned. Whilst training offers a process whereby knowledge can be imparted, it is important to recognise that every individual learns in different ways. Whilst some individuals thrive on a theoretical approach, others prefer a practical “hands-on” approach. Early assessment and feedback from individuals will allow the training courses and programmes to be modified accordingly.

Evaluating Learning

I evaluate individuals (employees and candidates) either in line with the Company Technical Competency Framework or in accordance with the training plan.  I record assessment data, verifying monthly that the processes and requirements of the framework are followed properly and consistently maintained. I ensure that individuals are competent to perform the required duties and that a certification of competence is maintained for the required levels. Feedback is also provided to individuals with guidance on critical areas for focus/ attention. Training is only effective in a 360-degree loop process.

An accredited Safety competency framework is the most relevant process to which my responsibilities are clearly defined. As a Consultant within the Safety Sector, my role, responsibilities and boundary to work are also explained in the relevant policy document.

In the context of HSWA1974, ensuring employees are trained and that statutory record keeping for the maintenance of skills and assessment of competence is completed adds to the many requirements and boundaries in which I am expected to adhere to for regulatory compliance.

I ensure that the process of compliance is strictly adhered to, particularly from a quality control process, as it is here that boundaries are clearly set. A serious noncompliance within HSWA1974 could have a significant effect on the operating license, commercial income and overall business. In some cases, this can result in the closure of the business.

Health and Safety places constraints and boundaries in which we must always comply. A sound knowledge and ability to assess risk and hazard in the workplace, training area and incident are key areas in which a great deal of the decision making comes from. To enable this, you need to draw on sound knowledge, experience and lessons previously learned.

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