Training, especially in high-risk industries, is crucial for maintaining a safe environment for all employees. Typically, training is part of a process that imparts new information on employees and addresses key knowledge gaps.
The Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBA) reported that Canadian businesses had more than 250,000 workplace claims in 2017, taking employees out of work for an average of 82 days for each claim. These companies paid out billions of dollars in benefits and sadly experienced the loss of 951 employees due to workplace incidents.
Workplace accidents can occur at any time, but many can be prevented through effective safety training. However, learning alone is not enough to lead to the desired changes in job performance.
What is High-Impact Training?
High-impact training does not mean expensive; rather, high-impact means it connects with employees enough to alter behaviour. A strong example comes from a surprising place. The movie Jaws debuted in 1975, and millions of people changed their swimming behaviour for more than a decade after they saw it. Experts call this phenomenon the “Jaws Effect.” Likewise, a training experience has the ability to strike a chord with employees for an effect that lasts for years.
There are three main components to successful training: error management, behaviour modeling, and realistic training environments.
Error management describes how humans use their biases and a trial-and-error approach to learn more about the world around them. In childhood, error management is part of building character and “growing up.” In business, error management leads to innovation…and costly accidents. With effective safety training, a company can systematically eliminate many common human errors on the job. If an employee is taught how to make good decisions when faced with tough situations, he or she is more likely to make better choices when the situation arises.
Behaviour modeling and realistic training environments can be addressed simultaneously with high-impact exercises. Behaviour modeling is a hands-on approach to learning, and it is the most effective way for employees to retain new information. Research shows that participants retain 5% of what is lectured, 30% of what is demonstrated, and 75% of what they learn with hands-on participation. A hands-on approach can be done in a realistic training environment, which simulates not only what employees will see but also how they will feel in a scenario.
An example of behaviour modeling in a realistic training environment is a mock mass casualty scenario. Having employees play out a dynamic emergency scenario teaches them more than any classroom or textbook could. Participants see the results of an accident, learn CPR and basic first aid techniques, and practice what to do in an emergency (including triage and crisis site management).
The Benefits of High-Impact Safety Training
By implementing high-impact safety training, a company experiences benefits that are felt company-wide.
Fewer Accidents at Work
Better safety in the workplace reduces the occurrence of accidents and overall company risk.
Lower Operational Costs
Improved workplace safety results in fewer wasted resources, less property damage, and fewer claims and fines.
Higher Levels of Productivity
When workers are healthy, they work harder, faster, and with better focus. This can positively impact revenue.
With many regulating bodies governing health and safety, it can be difficult for management to ensure all workers at all levels are aware of all safety requirements and regulations. With proper and consistent training, an informed workforce is created that assists management in ensuring compliance with all necessary standards.
Improved Company Culture
Finally, a feeling of safety at work raises employee morale and improves the company culture. As a result, an organization experiences less turnover and attracts better talent.
To begin integrating high-impact training into a company’s existing training process, the leaders should first identify what knowledge or skills need to be transferred. From there, they can seek out existing training resources or have them created. After high-impact training is complete, a plan should be in place to maintain and check knowledge over time.