The Value of Vulnerability: Helping Workers Perceive Personal Risk
- Anna H.L. Floyd (Regis University) | H. Landis Floyd II (DuPont)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- April 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 32 - 37
- 2014. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 61 since 2007
- Show more detail
Many safety professionals have likely heard comments like these:"How could this have happened? We have the best safety record in our division. We’ve never had a lost-time electrical injury at this plant. He is the most knowledgeable per-son in the crew. He has never had a recordable injury. I was not aware that my employees were exposed to a hazard with such severity. I don’t understand."
—Plant manager commenting during an arc-?ash injury investigation
"I’ve been in the business (electrical trade) for 25 years. Until today, I can honestly say that I’ve never under-stood the hazards I’ve worked with."—Electrician at the end of an 8-hour hazard awareness seminar
This arc-?ash incident caused a lost-time injury that led to long-term disability. As the quote shows, the plant manager’s disbelief is entangled with his justification of the worker’s qualifications as the "most knowledgeable person in his crew." In short, the man-ager does not understand how such a horrible event happened to a person whose knowledge of rules and regulations was so complete.
Almost as if in response to the questions posed by that plant manager, the second quote is from a 25-year veteran electrician who was well versed in electrical safety regulations and various employers’ safety rules (which was what most of his safety training had addressed). However, he had no perception of how severe the harm could be. The electrician admitted he did not fully understand the hazards of electricity, yet he, his coworkers and employers viewed him as a qualified electrician. During a course on electrical hazards, he realized his avoidance of in-jury was sheer luck.
So, how can SH&E professionals improve worker training to increase workers’ understanding of their personal vulnerability, which ultimately affects their tactful adoption of safety protocols? ANSI/ASSE Z490.1-2009, Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health and Environmental Training, provides a framework based on best practices in planning, developing, delivering and assessing safety training.
Most safety professionals understand that needs assessments, content design and delivery methods affect training effectiveness. They also recognize the need to engage adult learners through techniques such as role-playing, group projects, guided learning, storytelling and peer coaching because adults learn differently than children and do not respond well to content-focused education (Fanning, 2011). Work culture is another key consideration (Cullen, 2011).
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