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Why behavioural safety training is vital in industry

12 October, 2020
Behavioural safety training game

I’ve talked recently about behavioural safety and how to build a successful behavioural safety culture within an organisation. Today, I’m looking at why it is so important in manufacturing industries, why the right training is critical – and why one size doesn’t fit all.

Why undertake workplace health and safety training?

Manufacturing organisations have a statutory obligation to undertake workplace health and safety training for their staff, and to refresh said training on a regular basis. For example, the chemical, oil & gas and rail industries are among the most dangerous working environments, where even small mistakes can have catastrophic consequences. But a strong behavioural safety culture is equally important throughout the world of manufacturing. You want your employees not only to understand the health & safety rules but to think, ‘How does that apply to me? What can I do to ensure my own safety and that of the people around me?’ Lives, limbs and livelihoods depend on every member of staff being on board.

A sheep dip approach to behavioural safety training

Within the majority of manufacturing organisations, you are dealing with people of widely-varying abilities, at different stages in their career and with different expectations of work. Some work simply to pay the bills, others because it is a true vocation. From management to shop floor and everywhere in between, every one of them is individual. They will have their own way and speed of learning. It is vital that every individual is actively engaged with your behavioural safety culture. So why do so many manufacturing organisations still take a one-size-fits-all, sheep dip approach to health and safety training?

Ticking boxes

You know the scenario. Often it is a shutdown day. Everyone is herded together, taken out of the workplace into a classroom-type environment and subjected to a series of PowerPoint presentations and paper-based tasks. There is no adaptation to individual needs or situations. There is no individual support. At the end, there may be a short, usually multiple choice, test. It is a quick and efficient way to tick boxes. Everyone has received the required health and safety training. The organisation is now compliant. It may seem efficient but is it actually effective?

Talking at, not with

Of course it isn’t. Yes, you’ve ticked the box. Yes, your staff have a certificate. But everyone knows that most of the presentation has gone in one ear and out the other. It is designed to be as cheap and quick for organisations as possible but it does very little to enhance long-term corporate health. It is a one-way method of communication, talking at people instead of getting them involved and talking with them. Building and maintaining a strong behavioural safety culture is complex. It takes real, face-to-face interaction and commitment. It cannot be reduced to a set of slides and a quick quiz. It requires the participation of every member of staff, all day, every day. They need to be engaged. They must feel that they are an essential part of the health and safety machine, no matter what their role. How they behave is important, and what they think matters.

From compliance to conviction

So how do you move from a compliance-based training approach to company-wide conviction? Behavioural safety culture cannot be taught by staring at a screen, being bombarded with facts and told what to do. It needs to engage staff on an emotional and personal level. Good training requires investment. It must encourage each individual to think about health and safety from a human perspective and how it impacts them specifically (WIIFM – what’s in it for me?). Only then can you begin to build a culture where employees think about every aspect of their behaviour and the contribution this makes to everyone’s health and safety. This is particularly challenging if you are talking about short-term contracts, casual workers, people who don’t know how long they will be there. They do not have a strong commitment to the organisation. So, it is even more important to engage them and get them to think how their actions affect others.

A unique approach to behavioural safety training

The Big Picture People’s approach to behavioural safety training goes way beyond a quick presentation. Our bespoke, interactive board games are designed to get employees at all levels talking to each other. They explore concepts and ideas to see how things apply to them. The games prompt discussion and resolution. Everyone learns from each other – about different roles or challenges within the organisation. The process is fun and competitive, breaking down barriers and allowing everyone to make suggestions on improving safety and changing behaviours. A tailored Safety Game encourages people to engage, think, understand and apply the knowledge they’ve acquired. Read more about how we brought to life a safety first vision for 30,000 front-line employees through interactive board game.

Intrigued? Book a free 30 minute call with us and find out how activity-based learning such as this is proven to increase knowledge, retention and understanding. After all, isn’t that the ultimate aim of any corporate training?

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