Top Training Challenges: How do you make the case for safety best practices?

Top Training Challenges: How do you make the case for safety best practices?

Jill James

Jill James

Chief Safety Officer

Jill James brings an unrivaled perspective on risk, regulation and liability. With 14 years of experience as a Senior OSHA Safety Investigator with the State of Minnesota, and nearly a decade in the private sector as a safety program manager, Jill is a passionate advocate for training ROI.

The following is an excerpt from our on demand webcast, Troubleshoot Your Training—Live!, hosted by Chief Safety Officer Jill James and Dr. Todd Loushine.

Dr. Todd Loushine:

Because we believe that or we always state that OSHA compliance is the minimum. When you want to go beyond the minimum, what you're doing is you are actually really focusing on how to control exposures to hazard and risks and so you're really focusing on job improvement, I think. So which is kind of coming along the lines of ergonomics which is really just user centered design. When you're focusing on that, you're engaging the worker more too as well. You're still, probably still using legging type measures to run your safety program. When you get into climate and surveys, you're starting to move into more of the leading indicators.

So from compliance to the leading, it's getting more involved with job design, more user centered design, more engagement on that level. The relationships and the results of that effort give you the momentum to move into even the level above that which is like what we're talking about now and that's getting more leading indicators and having workers probably driving the safety program versus you and the management.

Jill James:

Yeah, I guess we can think about that two-ways. So remember the baseline is minimum compliance and then there are lots of things that people train on that aren't ... That there isn't a rule associated with needing to do training on that particular topic depending on the state that you're in. For example, workplace violence. Some states require that training, some states don't and so if you're in a place that doesn't, then you're moving beyond compliance. So there are those rudimentary things like that that you can take your training to the next level. But I guess I'm just used to thinking about that in another way and that was actually one of the questions on the applications that I reviewed this week is what are people doing beyond compliance.

More often than not, it was around employee wellbeing with regard to health improvement things and having that employee be healthy to come to their job. So sometimes it was initiatives around smoking cessation or healthy eating or diabetes prevention or blood pressure monitoring or fitness and wellness programs in that regard. Or getting someone to have their GED or English language learning that employers were supporting to take care of that whole employee, that would be another direction to go above and beyond compliance.

Dr. Todd Loushine:

Can I just respond to a couple of questions here that I'm seeing? One is they believe that VPP is going beyond compliance and unfortunately I don't agree with that. I believe VPP is just verification of being compliant. If you want to go above compliance then you'd pursue something like or ISO's new standard, the 45001 which are safety and health management systems. VPP, I mean, I used to be an auditor for those. It is still very compliance based.

Jill James:

It's an OSHA initiative that stands for voluntary protection program and so it's saying that you have all your safety ducks in a row and I'm going to prove it to you, government, and then we're going to have this award and we're going to keep the regulatory people from our door for a while and we're going to have a celebration about it. It's not a bad thing but it is meeting minimum compliance.

Dr. Todd Loushine:

Right. Then I'm looking at a few questions that look the same and that is getting people to buy into the safety aspects because they're rejecting it. I'm going to have to go back to what we have said earlier when we covered those things that you have to understand their view of things and speak their language. When I was working for the state, we needed some money to do this big project and this one supervisor was known to not agree with anything, not support anything unless she came up with it. So I devised this presentation for her in which I brought her on this learning trail, getting all the way up to what the solution would be but I shut up at that point and her response was, "Wow, why don't we do this?" I'm like, "That is exactly what we need to do but we need this much money for it." She's like, "Great."

So there are different things you can do for different people as long as you understand their psychology and what they want, what they need and speak to it. That's how you get people to buy in. You develop a relationship, give them what they want. Give them something they want so they'll give you what you want. It's called reciprocity theory.

Jill James:

What's in it for them. Yeah, absolutely. Another question that I see we didn't answer and I know we're starting to run out of time was about the idea of incentive programs and our opinion on that. Actually, OSHA has a really strong opinion on incentive programs. They frown upon it particularly when it's tied to anything monetary. The reason why it's frowned upon is because the idea and the thought is that if you're ... That you're incentivizing people to under report injuries and illnesses so that they can get their bonus at the end of the year, so they can get that nice jacket, so they can have that pizza party with the rest of their crew. So it's really frowned upon.

Incentive programs that they probably would not frown on have to do with safety improvements. So are you asking people for ideas on how to improve things and you're tracking it that way and you're rewarding people for finding ways to prevent injury, to correct hazards, that kind of stuff. I don't know Todd if you have more to say on that.

Dr. Todd Loushine:

Well, yeah, I mean the principle is based on Skinner's ABC theory where the incentive is supposed to be adding the antecedent. So you have a desired or an expected behavior or you're trying to distinguish an unwanted behavior and you're trying to incentivize that. The problem is it can be short circuited and people just don't report things and then you think you've reached your goal when in fact what you need to do is incentivize the positive things. So you're going to provide and incentive or reward, whatever it might be, a recognition is even better for people who are doing the right things and maybe handling, distinguishing and more of a subtle method that would still encourage an participation and engagement. That's what you want. But Jill's right. OSHA is against the incentive programs because it was causing workers to or motivating them not to report things and that's a negative.