In a recent blog post, we explored the rising cost of health and safety failings for businesses in the UK. Since the new Sentencing Guidelines came into effect in February 2016, it’s now not unheard of for companies to be fined in excess of £1 million if found guilty of health and safety breaches.
But it’s not just the financial impact we should be concerned about. The statistics on fatalities should be a cause for concern for everyone. In just one year, from 2017-2018, 144 UK workers died in the workplace, and there were 555,000 injuries at work, 71,000 of them serious.
This highlights just how important it is for organisations to ensure they are delivering competent, up to date, and engaging health and safety training to staff. It might not be the most interesting topic for employees, but it is perhaps the most important one, particularly in industries like manufacturing and construction, where the risk is significantly higher.
Is it time you reviewed your health and safety e-learning courses to make sure you are engaging staff as well as you can be? Perhaps the six tips outlined in this blog post will help you bring some new life into your health and safety training.
1. Make it relevant
Health and safety e-learning courses are all too often very generic. And from the learner’s point of view, generic means irrelevant. This is why it is so important to cover topics that are directly related to the tasks employees perform. It sounds obvious, but at the very least, content needs to be specific to the environment learners work in. For example, warehouse workers, office workers, retail staff and hospitality staff will all have different topics they need to cover.
But more than that, your health and safety e-learning courses should have practical examples that show learners exactly what their responsibilities are in the context of their own organisation. It’s not just about using your company name, but the names of your policies, the terminology you use within the business and even the names of specific individuals. This will make the training much more meaningful.
2. Use statistics in a way that resonates with learners
Often, when you’re driving, you may come across an accident blackspot where there is a sign detailing the number of fatalities. Usually, they will show the number of deaths in the year and are designed to shock. But, is just showing the number of fatalities usually enough to convince people to modify their driving behaviour? Is 10 fatalities a year a lot? Probably.
If you’re using statistics in your health and safety training, they need context in order to resonate. For instance, it’s not enough just to mention that there have been thousands of injuries to workers over the last seven years. A better approach would be to say that there has been one incident per week.
And what impact have these incidents had? Has anyone been fined or jailed as a result of negligence? And how much has it cost the company? Statistics will be a lot more powerful if you tell the whole story.
3. Make it interactive
We know that interactive e-learning content is a much better way of embedding knowledge and behaviours than passive content. There are all sorts of ways to incorporate interactivity into the e-learning environment, such as including interactive elements, providing branching scenarios, or gamifying the learning experience, such as in a hazard perception test.
4. Find influencers in your organisation to consolidate training
Within any organisation, there will be a range of attitudes towards health and safety. For some people, health and safety will be a top priority. For others, it will be relatively low down the list. Finding the people for whom it is a top priority can be really useful, as these people can be leveraged as influencers or champions and help you drive the message home.
By using employee first-aiders and fire captains, you can consolidate online health and safety training and provide another layer of support and advice, helping you trumpet the benefits of safe practices across the company.
5. Review your objectives
How long ago did you review your health and safety objectives? Is it time you refreshed them?
Health and safety courses are all about results. And you can’t measure results without having clear objectives. Examples of health and safety objectives can include things like reducing worker turnover, getting the number of incidents down to zero, and reducing business insurance premiums.
But these objectives need to be regularly reviewed. Perhaps there has been a rise in the number of injuries in one particular area or department. This would suggest that you need to adapt your training content or run additional courses to prevent the issue from recurring. In instances like this, it’s important to set clear objectives so that you can measure whether the training is having the desired impact (ie that all-important Return-On-Investment).
6. Make sure training is accessible and inclusive
Gone are the days where meeting e-learning accessibility standards meant simply providing a pdf alternative. It goes beyond just ensuring everyone can access health and safety e-learning. The focus should be on ensuring everyone, whether they have a disability or not, has access to engaging, innovative, and interactive e-learning courses.
By designing for a diverse workforce and addressing different people's needs and priorities, we can ensure that learners embed the appropriate knowledge and behaviours that will keep them and their colleagues safe at work. These six pointers hopefully serve as a useful checklist to review your current health and safety e-learning courses against.