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Ian Johannessen, managing director of lone worker experts Peoplesafe, explains why education is vital if safety initiatives are to be successful.
We all love a groan and a moan. Generally, an invite to a training session can cause a collective groan and some attendees will arrive intent on a good moan. But for many the anticipation is usually much worse than the eventual experience.
Lone worker safety can be a cultural challenge, but the right training can help ensure safety solutions are accepted and embraced. And this is especially important for those who work alone, as they are unable to ask colleagues for help.
Sometimes encouraging buy-in can be as simple as making sure staff know how to use their safety devices, or when to use them. But often the challenges run deeper, with some staff resisting change – which is another reason why training is so important.
It’s imperative that managers and employees know why they need to use the devices they have been issued with. Without that knowledge, your return on investment will never be what it could be, and more importantly, the safety of your lone workers could be at risk.
A truly safe workforce requires employees to display safe behaviours as habit, and they will only do that if they feel confident and motivated. Plus, training together as a team also allows employees to share experiences and build relationships with each other.
So what separates good training from bad? Education through training is about so much more than knowledge transfer. After all, standing in front of a room and lecturing a line of stony faces is never going to get you the best results.
Good training is about empowering people to change behaviours for the better by self-discovery rather than instruction. And if you can engage their hearts and minds, then half the battle is won.
Using real-life scenarios is key as it contextualises the training and reinforces its relevance. Employees should want to use their personal safety devices because they understand the benefits, not because they are simply following orders.
Training that focuses on avoiding conflict is important too. It should include best practice for non-violent resolution, and include communication skills that focus on diffusion techniques.
It’s not just lone workers on the front line who need training; educating managers benefits the whole team too. Team members look to their managers for guidance, best practice and support, so giving them the tools to lead by example from the start is crucial if an initiative is to be a success.
Empowering them in this way will also prevent them from feeling alone or panicky, when faced with questions from their staff. Encourage managers to take a ‘super user’ style approach, and the rest of the team should follow.
Just as you take time to make the right investment into lone worker safety solutions, care should also be taken when choosing a training provider.
They should want to understand what you need from your training and set learning objectives with you. They should also understand the legal and moral responsibilities around employee safety, and have the people skills needed to effectively engage with your staff.
So whether it’s a two-hour executive briefing or a two-day workshop for remote employees, choose your provider wisely.
The result of good training is confident, consistent users displaying safe behaviours on a daily basis – and isn’t that the best return on investment of all?
Peoplesafe run a number of training courses designed to help employers look after lone workers and embed health and safety culture into the workplace. Visit www.peoplesafevision.com/training to find out more.