Health and safety computer training could be bad for health and safety culture, writes Terry L Mathis.
Computer-based training (CBT) is oten used in induction and for legal compliance training, with some advantages and some disadvantages for health and safety culture.
Advantages: CBTs provide exactly uniform information to each worker. The learning is self-paced so each worker can complete it at their own learning and comprehension speed. It allows workers to take training a few at a time to minimize interruption to normal work flow.
It does not require a classroom or meeting room; only a computer work station. If a worker can demonstrate competence through a test, they don’t have to take the training again. It allows for easy record keeping to track who has taken the training and who has not.
Disadvantages: It tends to foster cheating. Workers can keep their answers and skip the training all together. In some cases workers pass the answers to newer workers who never take the training. It can become extremely repetitive, monotonous and boring.
However, the most serious disadvantage of CBT lies in the fact that it isolates workers for training and denies the interaction common in traditional classroom training.
It completely eliminates discussion of topics and collaboration among employees. Best practices cannot be shared during training and real questions about application to the workplace cannot be adequately answered.
Training becomes a lonely process and the opportunities to build culture around learning and application are lost.
Organizations can compensate for CBT with other culture-building activities, but training becomes an anti-culture activity. The acquiring and renewing of key workplace skills becomes a siloed and isolated individual process.
The opportunities to build a “can-do” culture are largely lost. Smart managers will consider these advantages and disadvantages and decide if CBT is a good decision for their organization or not.
* Terry L Mathis is founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, a safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance presentations. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS’ in 2010 and 2011.
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