Posted on 30th August, 2018 by Jamie Merriman
It’s a few weeks since Hazards 28, a long-standing event that provides an opportunity to share expert knowledge, latest developments and lessons learned in process safety training – all helping organisations to prevent major accident hazards in the workplace.
We’re starting to digest some of the interesting trends to emerge, especially in relation to learning and development. From a strong focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to workplace safety training and human factors, here are a few of the most interesting messages from the conference.
1) Process safety training is more complex than ever
As Malc Staves, L’Oreal’s Corporate Health & Safety Director, pointed out in his talk, complex systems and global workforces mean simple problems that could be solved without collaboration are a thing of the past.
There are, he added, new opportunities to help line management visibly drive safety, encourage proactive employee participation and extend health and safety across businesses.
Complex process safety training problems need to be solved collaboratively as a team, with employees involved in the decision-making process so that they’re part of the solution.
In order to achieve this, L’Oréal believes in establishing clear strategy and objectives, using the right learning systems and tools to engage employees with training and expertise. If everyone has the training and systems to do their bit, it’s easy to keep everyone safe and well.
2) Data has a key role to play in process safety training
While many organisations have collected plenty of information, such as how long it takes to complete a task and what went wrong in certain instances, this isn’t being related back to learning in many cases.
Collecting feedback from learners and measuring how much they’ve learned is relatively straightforward, but thoroughly assessing the learning outcomes is vital.
We can correlate the amount of learning completed with metrics such as:
- Lost time
- Non-fatal injuries that cause any loss of time from work
- Total accidents
- Near misses
With these, we can continue to update training methods and programmes to suit cultural, regional, operational and legal requirements. Measurement and analysis is one of the key ways to discover whether your learning strategy is paying dividends.
We can also use data to decide what skills and attitudes are missing from a workforce and what tools need to be used to improve process safety training.
Coen van Gulijk, from the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research, and Paul McCulloch, of CGE Risk Management Solutions, explored how British railway safety teams are using data to provide timely and accurate risk information in the correct format to the right people.
They predicted that big data technologies will:
- Be a major part of the future for all organisations
- Deliver more data than ever before
- Enable rapid, consistent, timely and efficient process safety training
- Transform all safety management systems into completely integrated IT systems
Learning technologies, it was clear, have a significant part to play in gathering and examining data, upskilling workforces and bringing about behavioural change.
3) Strong process safety training creates trust
Industrial production environments tend to be complicated and remote. When an organisation is operating a mine the size of Great Britain, how do they make sure that risk is minimised and serious injury or loss of life is avoided?
For the communities that have sprung up because of mines, transport hub (like an airport terminal) or other types of workplace, ensuring safety promises are kept to is central to creating and building trust.
While there are a lot of fantastic training curriculums being produced in these large-scale settings, most of it is still face-to-face, rather than capitalising on the benefits of a blended learning approach.
Our work with Anglo American is a good example of how taking a very different approach can have a real impact.
We created a feature-length drama to powerfully communicate the fact that poor health and safety practices can lead to people dying.
Video can viscerally bring emotive learning messages to life without explicitly portraying the risks involved. Different methods of learning can provide a powerful starting point for some of the important conversations that L&D teams need to facilitate.
4) How can process safety training use ‘black box thinking’?
One of the reference points discussed at the event was Black Box Thinking, Matthew Syed’s book about training, management, strategy and learning from failure.
A vital part of process safety training is about being able to analyse and understand what does and doesn’t work, leading to continuous and quick improvement in the digital age.
Part of the conversation was around mitigating errors, but we also accepted that it is impossible for people to be 100% reliable, with factors such as distractions, tiredness and emotions all playing their part.
Robots can remove many of the opportunities for human failure, and we heard about one warehouse where 4,000 of them learn by watching workers. However, we are still some way from ruling out mistakes by robots.
Process safety training: looking to the future
As an event, Hazards 28 covered a very varied range of topics, from fitting a fan properly to decommissioning an oil rig.
It is clear that large organisations take risk very seriously, and the training opportunities provided by technologies such as AI and VR will shape the future of health and safety.
Companies that are supporting their L&D teams to think innovatively are seeing the benefits and reducing major accident hazards along the way.
For instance, we see safety leaders using video of all kinds, from footage created onsite by users with a smartphone through to full broadcast quality.
Enterprise video management platforms such as the new offering from our sister company, gomo, are allowing organisations to turn traditional watch-and-learn initiatives into much more powerful social learning experiences.
VR is also becoming increasingly accessible, with everything from headsets to lower production costs pushing proof of concept proposals from the bottom drawer to approved project status.
For us as learning technologists, this is all very exciting. We are dealing with a number-one priority for our clients, who are investing in safety and wellbeing to reach a goal of zero harm. Supporting them and collaborating on this mission makes us feel hugely privileged.