Friday, October 2, 2009

Scenario-Based Training

More and more, contractors are recognizing the value of scenario-based training. We’re talking hands-on training, using actual tools, equipment, and work sites. Experienced workers get to show off their knowledge in demonstrations to the trainees, who in turn participate in their own training.

“Hands-on training is by far the most effective form of training,” says Rick McCourt, safety and compliance director at Sukut Construction Inc. in Santa Ana, CA. Since McCourt took his post at Sukut, a large grading contractor, his training and incentive programs have helped reduce injuries by 50%. “We’ve had a consistent downward trend in accident frequency and severity,” says McCourt.

“We’ve been doing scenario-based training for eight years,” says Creamer’s Construction Safety Director Lucky Abernathy. “We involve the trainees in the training. We’ll have four guys rig the trench box, and then we show guys how to signal the excavator operator. Or we’ll have a crew put wooden shoring together and shore an excavation.

“We try to break it down into smaller groups,” he adds. “That way the employees who don’t get a chance to participate get to watch their peers work.” Creamer uses scenario-based training for trenching and shoring, traffic controls, defensive driving, confined-space training, fall protection, and small-tool safety.

At Sukut, McCourt says it’s important for contractors to know that mass grading is really an excavation activity. Mass grading should receive the same respect—with regard to hazards and safety—that is accorded to trenching. “That’s a point a lot of people miss,” says McCourt.

Sukut recently held a three-station safety-training course. In a trailer, a trainer used actual slings and wire rope to teach proper rigging methods—how to rig a pipe, what worn-out rigging looks like, and so forth. Outside, McCourt offered training in abrasive sandblasting. His session included the necessary precautions and communications for sandblasting near another construction crew.

The third teacher provided forklift training. Federal OSHA and California OSHA both have a certification requirement for forklift operators. Employees must demonstrate proficiency in such tasks as reading a load chart, lifting the load, and carrying it safely. “If you’re lifting a load and something goes south, people can get hurt,” says McCourt.

(Taken in part from the Grading & Contractors September/October 2007 newsletter. Article by Daniel C. Brown)

It is always interesting to find out what kinds of training different businesses and industries offer to their employees. What does your company offer? Can you think of other types of training that would improve your or your coworkers' safety?

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