How to Develop Effective Safety Training? A Lifecycle Approach

  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    March 14, 2011
  • Skill Level:
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Safety training is one of the most important tools for upgrading the safety level and for minimizing the likelihood and the consequences of accidents. However, as the cost involved is high (most of the training cost is usually associated with its participants time), it is highly important that the training will be effective.

Description of the proposed model:

Step# 1- Objectives definition: The need for the training and its detailed objectives should be clearly stated. Whenever possible, the objectives should be measurable . Safety training usually has one or more of the following objectives: Safety knowledge retention in the organization (retention of the insights learned from safety incidents within and out of the organization, training of newcomers to the organization / new managers etc.). For example: a new lab manager was hired following a successful career in the university. There is a need to bring him quickly up to speed with all the safety and safety related practices (the 'common practice' in most of the leading companies is that each manager in the company is also the "safety manager" (i.e: in charge) of the unit which he manages. Therefore, without having a good understanding of all the required safety practices and the lessons learned from previous incidents in similar activities inside and outside the organization, he is not able to adequately manage the safety in his/ her unit. Addressing performance and competency gaps (i.e: Bridging the gap between the expected performance and the existing performance.: for example: o A JSA study concluded that operators stand in the "line of fire" when replacing steam valves and hence can be injured in case the line is not properly drained. o An audit found that PAPRs are contaminated as operators don't clean and wrap the PAPRs in bags after use. Lack of skill / knowledge how to perform a task in a safe manner, for example: how to safely remove contaminated gloves, new process safety engineer that is not familiar with the Hazop methodology, training regarding the safety aspects of new processes / equipment etc. Mandatory (mandated by an authority): e.g: training regarding the MSDS of new materials

Step 2: Decision if training is the appropriate solution? Training is sometimes perceived by some managers as the "cure for all diseases". However, this is not the case. The training designer should check whether any of the primary causes for ineffectiveness of safety training listed below exist. If they exist, training is not the appropriate solution: Flawed environment / lack of commitment for implementation- The tools necessary to implement the training are not there, for example: o An operator attended a course for conducting internal safety audits but due to lack of commitment of his line manager, there is no implementation and he doesn't do any audit after the course. o An engineer attended a course on static electricity. However, as most of the piping in his plant were made from non-conductive materials (due to corrosion consideration) and there is no budget for significant changes, he is not able to implement what he learned. Improper incentives: What are the consequences of doing the job in an unsafe manner? Does implementation of the training insights result in additional /nasty work assignments? E.g: what is the incentive of an employee who participated in an incidents debriefing course to implement it for near misses in his plant? Lack of motivation: Rossett (1) claims that motivation=value*confidence o Value: How much and whether the topic is valued o Confidence: The amount of confidence the employee has that he can master the skill or knowledge For example: emergency vent sizing may be perceived as extremely complicated, resulting in low confidence in the implementation potential and hence low motivation. The training is based on "inert" materials (i.e: materials that are irrelevant or can't be implemented in their real life activities.

The question in this step is: If your life depended on it, could you meet the performance objectives without the training? If the answer is yes, training is not the solution.

Step 3- Decision regarding the instructional approach:

The most suitable instructional approach should be specified for each of the training objectives. The main instructional approaches are: The behaviorist approach suggests that learning occurs due to reinforcement or weakening of reactions or of associations between stimulus to reaction (i.e: the learning occurs by acquiring and reinforcement of the required action /reaction ). This approach is effective when we want to implement a set of routine actions that the trainee will perform (e.g: safe wearing and removal of gloves, gowning and de-gowning, use of PPE etc.) and when we want to achieve a quick automatic action (for example in training of emergency response teams to use fire extinguishers, oscillating monitors etc.). An effective training in this approach is when the trainee does the required activity /response automatically without having to think about it , as the thinking process will damage the performance. The cognitive approach suggests that knowledge can be transferred directly from the trainer / book / e-learning kit to the trainee. This approach is effective when new knowledge should be acquired for the understanding of concepts, processes and phenomena (for example: training of a new procedure) An effective training in this approach is when the trainee understands the structured knowledge that has been presented to him (i.e.: can repeat it and understand how to implement it in his working environment). The constructivistic approach suggests that learning occurs when the trainee actively constructs and reconstructs the knowledge. This approached is effective in training aimed for the solution of complex, ill structured problems (e.g: training to perform risk analysis, for development of inherently safer process etc.).

Step 4 -Development of the training materials The training materials should be developed in such a way that they will address real life situations and dilemmas (the problem is usually not the lack of knowledge, but the lack of understanding how to apply that knowledge. The use of real life dilemmas, lessons learned and real life situations will make the application of the knowledge much easier. Example: in a confined space e-learning which we developed, we asked the trainees: what would you do if you see your friend lying unconscious at the bottom of the reactor due to Nitrogen asphyxiation, assuming you don't have an SCBA near you (i.e.: would you try to hold your breath like you do in the swimming pool and enter the tank without SCBA to save your friend's life)? After they decide what they do, they see the CSB video on the Valero accident and get explanation why they can hold their breath in the swimming pool but are unlikely to succeed in holding their breath in an inerted reactor. An additional point that should be addressed in this step is the variation of the different starting points of the target audience (different employees have different knowledge levels, experience and skill).

Step 5 -Decision regarding the most appropriate tool for delivering the training It should be decided which is the most cost effective tool to delivering the training, using the required instructional approach. As in case of illness it is possible to give the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient in several types of medicines (tablet, injection, inhalation etc.), it is also possible to deliver the training using the required instructional approach in several formats and it is the duty of the training designer to use the most cost effective format. Step 6- Deliver the training

Step 7- Evaluate the training effectiveness

The suggested method for evaluating the training effectiveness is based on the Kirkpatrick Model (1959) 2, which consists of four levels (level 1 is the most basic and level 4 the most comprehensive). Therefore, the difficulty and cost of conducting the evaluation increases with each level: Level 1 - Reaction : How did participants react? The training effectiveness will be evaluated using: ?X completed participant feedback questionnaire ?X informal comments from participants ?X focus group sessions with participants

Level 2 - Learning : To what extent did participants improve knowledge and skills and change attitudes as a result of the training? The training effectiveness (i.e: the "increase in knowledge") is evaluated using: ?X Pre- and post-test scores ?X On-the-job assessments ?X Interviews

Level 3 - Behavior : To what extent did participants change their behavior back in the workplace as a result of the training? The training effectiveness (i.e.: the "Behavior change"-the extent of the applied learning back on the job) is evaluated using: ?X Observations and interviews over time ?X On-the-job observation ?X Reports from peers and participant's manager

Level 4 -Results: What organizational benefits resulted from the training? The training effectiveness (i.e.: the Change in the business results and environment) is evaluated using the routine KPIs such as: ?X Increase of the near-miss reports ?X Reduction of the OSHA index / LWD The main challenge in this level is to establish the relation between the training and the change in the KPIs.

Step 8 - Lessons extraction and implementation




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