Safety professionals face a daunting task when it comes to developing and implementing effective training programs. Both employees and management often perceive of traditional safety, health and environmental training as a necessary evil. Conventional methods employed include lecture, discussions, demonstration, videos, and various forms of handout materials including policies and procedures. Participants are often regarded as "empty vessels" into which knowledge and skill can be transferred by experienced instructors.

This approach is still common today but has several drawbacks. First, it does not honor existing knowledge and skill that characterize many adults in the workplace. Second, passive learning methods have built in limits in terms of the learner incorporating subject matter into their work tasks. Third, traditional training methods do not use the hidden power of group dynamics to reinforce learning among team members. And finally, the reality of powerful cultural influences in our society including television is often overlooked as a pathway into building safety cultures and improving performance.

This paper seeks to demonstrate how the use of gameshow formats can make a significant difference in participation, enthusiasm and retention in safety and health training programs. The specific advantages of using gameshow formats include but are not limited to:

  • Educating employees about key aspects of both safety and operational knowledge

  • Creating a competency-based learning tool to improve safety performance and productivity

  • Encouraging employee's knowledge and skill by contributing to the training program content

  • Identifying gaps in safety systems and job tasks to promote consistency of knowledge and application of skills

  • Contributing to maintaining excellence in health and safety performance by incorporating world class auditing criteria

  • Encouraging healthy competition between individuals and teams, resulting in high level of interest and motivation.

Why Gameshows?

The American public has a rich history when it comes to television gameshows. A recent TV Guide cover story described the 25 best gameshows ever. Consider the following. The popular TV show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire with host Regis Philbin, has a viewership of 80 million people a week. It is also a fact that Capital Cities/ABC stock has increased in value because of the popularity of the show. Started in August of 1999 with just one show a week, it has blossomed into a 4 night a week series. This show is just part of the American tradition of game show popularity that started since the advent of television. Shows like The Price is Right have been running since its debut in 1956. Hosts like Bob Barker and the announcer Johnny Olsen made "Come on Down" household words. Other game show hosts like Alex Trebek, Allen Luden, Gene Rayburn, and Richard Dawson have all made their mark on the American people.

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