Changing human behaviour

Changing human behaviour

A comprehensive strategy is needed to keep people safe in the workplace, writes DR BILL POMFRET, managing consultant for Safety Projects International, Canada.

Most of the training available in safety and health is oriented towards modifying human behaviour and, while it is a partial solution to the problem of unsafe acts or practices, it must also be accepted that management error and oversight plays its part here, too.

The many levels and types of activities involved in the total safety and health picture requires a rather complicated programme, as do safety and health training. The training objectives must include the entire organisation and all functions.

Steps to develop a comprehensive safety, health and loss control training programme include the following:

The identification of training needs
Possibly the biggest problem in training is determining when there is a training need. Some indicators include a high accident or incident rate, worker discontent, frequent equipment breakdowns, waste, customer complaints, changes in process, and so on.

Creating specific objectives
It is essential to create specific training objectives to solve specific problems.

Collecting materials and developing course outlines
This step will involve a commitment of resources from top management and staff. Is in-house training the most economical way to go? Can effective course material be developed in-house, or is there suitable training material available from outside sources?

Selecting training methods and techniques
Experience over the years may have shown that certain training methods or techniques are particularly effective for teaching people certain kinds of tasks or behaviours. The specialist is in the best position to know this.

Delivering the training programme
This involves the actual application of curriculum, timetables, teaching environment, supplies, instructors, certificates and incentives.

Evaluating the programme
It is essential to provide a method for evaluating the effectiveness of any training programme. Even if training is mandated, this is desirable. Such evaluation can ensure that the training programme serves the company’s objectives, as well as meeting the requirements of the law. Tests, on-the-job evaluations, evidence of favourable changes in the accident or wastage rates, and many other methods of evaluation may be applied. Management must make sure that such evaluations are made periodically and that higher management reviews the results.

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