Zokal Safety Australia

A Safety Training “spray and pray” approach?

safety training approach

A recent article on the OH&S website: ‘Why Safety Training May Not Be the Answer’ raised a pertinent question: Is Safety Training sometimes used as a “spray and pray” approach to address poor safety performance, instead of taking the time to address the real underlying causes?

It may seem a little odd for a safety training provider to raise this in the public arena, but I don’t believe this to be the case - as we’ve built our business on providing sustainable services for the long term. Training that is ineffective, or is not bringing results, is not something we want to be involved with.

So I wanted to put this article up for discussion and get your perspective on it.

A lot of safety training is mandated by law and must be undertaken - and it has proved to be a big factor in preventing workplace deaths and injuries, but is training alone always enough?

A couple of questions I’d like to ask fellow workplace safety professionals is:

  • Is training sometimes used without other areas being addressed, such as inadequate safety equipment being available?
  • Are factors like peer pressure sometimes overlooked when poor safety performance is being addressed?
  • Are workers engaged when companies address safety performance issues? Does anyone ask them what the problems are?

The author of the article believes not enough effort is put into finding out what is causing the gap between actual performance and expectations. He believes skipping a needs assessment or gap analysis is what brings us to the quick-fix training solution.

The article goes on to state the downside of excessive training: “Providing training when the problem does not stem from lack of training may even work against you. Training or telling employees how to do something when other organizational barriers prevent them from doing it will create resentment. For example if employees are not wearing required personal protective equipment, will just telling them why they should or training them to wear it really make a difference? Perhaps the PPE is not readily available or maybe it is uncomfortable and interferes with their ability to perform their job. Or maybe peers or supervisors put pressure on the employees that act as a disincentive for the use of PPE. More training is just going to add salt to the wounds.”

This is a US perspective, but does it differ from Australia and if so, how much? Statistics would tell us that it’s actually worse in Australia - According to Gallup’s research, only 24% of Australian employees are actually engaged, with 76% disengaged, compared to 32% of US employees engaged and 68% disengaged.

You can read the full article here: https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2007/03/Why-Safety-Training-May-Not-Be-the-Answer.aspx?

or

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/safety-training-spray-pray-approach-james-prout/

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please comment below.

Questions?

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