Safety Training: The Case for a More Logical Practice
- Jim Walters (Power of Learning Inc.)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- November 2016
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 33 - 39
- 2016. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 25 since 2007
- Show more detail
- Power line installer is among the most hazardous occupations in the U.S. as measured by fatalities.
- Expecting positive change in incident rates while conducting training in the same way for decades is illogical.
- Cognitive overload is an important emerging phenomenon with direct negative impacts on the electric power industry.
- To effect change, training curricula must incorporate critical thinking.
Why do high incident rates persist in the electric power industry? Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014) ranks power line installer as one of the 10 most hazardous occupations in the U.S. as measured by fatalities.
Consider the rhetorical question, “Why do we keep doing foolish things?” followed by, “We just had training on this last week.” It is illogical to expect a positive change in incident rates while continuing to train as the industry has for decades.
Could it be that the electric power industry has optimized the process of doing the wrong thing by training workers on a deep-seated unspoken biased logic that the industry is simply hazardous and they should therefore expect incidents? If so, the problem is largely self-imposed due to the industry’s continued reliance on traditional training efforts that are mostly devoid of thinking skills and other human factor components.
Accordingly, this article presents critical thinking as a crucial skill that should be incorporated into training curricula to establish a new safety era founded on development of thinking skills.
The electric power industry has a long history of being among the most dangerous industries to workers (BLS, 2014). Personnel continue to be maimed and killed despite the industry’s (utilities and power contractors) training efforts. For this reason and because the author found no research on electric line installers safety, this article focuses on the notion of a new logic to reverse this safety trend. The concepts and remedies cited apply to the workplace in general.
Perhaps the industry is stuck in a homeostasis, wherein it trains workers on a deep-seated unspoken biased logic (i.e., “It is a dangerous industry and there will always be incidents”). This bias could be fueled by the frustration of not knowing what to do, other than what has always been done. It engenders private conversations such as, “As long as we keep incident rates at or below OSHA averages, we are in a good position.”
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