Canadian Occupational Safety

July/August 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 29 of 31

F E A T U R E 30 and bigger part of OH&S training. "The major change [in the last few years] is that learners are much more accepting of online, just-in-time education and training," says Jones. "Online collaboration has been made easier and learners now know how to use most online applications. Also, there remains a push to the 'micro-modulization' of content into bite-sized pieces that take 10 to 30 minutes to go over." Online learning offers many advantages, notably the ability for workers to go at their own pace and to take micro-modules that last a few minutes as a way to refresh their training. Workers can also do these modules whenever and wherever they want, taking away the constraints of a traditional classroom. Jones also says that we now have access to multiple media to use as tools and "we need to recognize changing habits of learners and their desire for more just-in-time and bite-sized learning." "I think OH&S training has evolved in several ways," say Rebbitt. "Firstly, OHS training has really gone more digital and so there is much more online training than there used to be. Companies are leveraging digital technology to deliver simple training like orientation training… The expanded use of visual aids and videos assists in reducing the amount of time required for training." "Tech has to push [OH&S training] forward and I think, if we don't take advantage of it, then we're making a mistake," says Blunt. 8. Do not forget about mental well-being In conversation with many OH&S experts, one thing that frequently pops up is the growing importance of mental health in the workplace and mental health awareness as part of occupational health and safety training. Dr. Geoffrey Soloway, founder and chief training officer at Mindwell-U, says that mental health and mindfulness is "coming into the workplace as part of professional training." "What's the number one reason for accidents in the workplace? It's the lack of attention… it's the root cause of accidents in the workplace," he says. It is important to talk about mental health as a fundamental aspect of workplace health and safety. Soloway says mental health is an integral part of the job and that it is essential to train one's mind before going onto the worksite. For example, workers can use their onsite prep time to refocus, to ground themselves and to focus their attention. All of this could be included in OH&S training. This, Soloway says, can come in the form of "Take Five," for example. This practice is all about noticing cues and senses and connecting back with the body, with one's breathing. It is key to highlight the practical applications of good mental health training and the fact that it can be applied across the board to every workplace. 9. Never stop learning Health and safety practitioners should "always be learning and always be open to new opportunities for gaining knowledge or skills," says Rebbitt. And there are specific things on which OH&S professionals should have retraining, says Rebbitt. "It is generally accepted that, every three years, specific courses would have to be repeated. Health and safety practitioners who hold a CRSP or CRST designation must demonstrate not only continuing professional practice but continuous learning. Every five years, they must submit a worksheet on what they have done to maintain their competency." He says that, "for CRSPs and CRSTs, this is a points system and so points are awarded for things like professional practice, speaking at conferences, taking courses, attending seminars and other things that would keep someone engaged in the profession and continually learning. This sort of thing is becoming more common and there are not very many designations these days that do not require some form of continuous professional development." Blunt concurs. "I think that [learning] needs to be a continual process, it should never stop. But depending on what you are doing that may be every year, every three years. Here, we rotate courses to add benefit and value with fresh eyes, and most safety managers should seek out opportunities to attend conferences and workshops. "If you have a course with a syllabus that hasn't been changed in four years, then you have a problem," says Blunt. Although there are many other aspects to consider when building a training program, depending on a host of variables, the aforementioned are the fundamentals. They are the essential aspects to consider when conceiving an innovative, effective program that should successfully train safety-minded individuals keen to make a difference. "Tech has to push [OH&S training] forward and I think if we don't take advantage of it then we're making a mistake." Leigh Ann Blunt, school chair and safety professor with the University of Central Missouri 4 KEYS TO AN EFFECTIVE PROGRAM competent people and a knowledge base important to the profession." Training is becoming more and more developed. "Post-secondary institutions are bringing more rigour to the trading and there is much less reliance on classroom training there… There is a growing recognition that health and safety professionals need substantial training and learning," says Rebbitt. 6. Include a practical component "Courses that are skill heavy, there must be performance-based testing where a person has to demonstrate they can apply the skills taught in the course," says Rebbitt. "A good example of this is first aid training. There is a knowledge test, but there is also a practical test or a performance-based test to have people demonstrate that they can actually respond to an emergency and provide first aid. Where a course is teaching any sort of skill, it is important to have a competency verification process." In a university setting, this is also important, says Blunt. "It may vary by university, but we have various programs that require an internship or a workplace project. There are a number of programs that do not have internships… It is an important factor for companies, and a lot of those companies use those internships as a trial period. A lot of times they do that when they have job openings." Adds Blunt, "It's definitely an important thing. There should be some kind of practical aspect to anything that's over a job that you're physically going to do." 7. Integrate online learning Online learning is one thing that keeps cropping up in conversations. In this current environment, says Blunt, "the online component is going to have to be beefed up [as] it allows opportunities for people who need more time to take more time. It doesn't matter if they took a little longer." In fact, OH&S training may go one step further and even start to incorporate augmented or virtual reality in its teaching. "Sometimes, the student has never seen that piece of machinery before, but if you provide virtual or augmented reality, they can become familiar with it before seeing it in the real world," says Blunt. "I think [virtual reality] is going to get better and it's going to get cheaper." One big change in the last few years is that online learning has become a bigger Establish the basics and understand the learner's needs. Use mixed mediums (in-person classes, videos, etc.) for delivery, and do not forget to follow up. Make sure that course material is up to date and meets current standards. Incorporate physical training as well as online learning for an effective program.

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