Health and safety computer training is bad for culture

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.

This article appeared first on the Safety Culture Excellence® blog.

Terry Mathis
Terry Mathis

* 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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One thought on “Health and safety computer training is bad for culture

  1. To Terry; your comments on CTS are not exactly true. I depends on how it is utilized.
    The old saying, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, applies. We used computer-based training (CBT) since 2005 and have reached 9 million fatality free shifts, and we believe that our CBT program principally contributed to this success.
    However, we have to differentiate between training and refresher training. CBT is a great tool for annual refresher training. The old way of doing training was to push up to 30 people into a classroom and the facilitator runs through the documentation and we end the day with a written examination.
    Only on reviewing the examination papers we then identify the employees who failed, but the day has lapsed?
    Now with CBT we do a pre-test on arrival, and those who pass return to work. Those remaining are the ones who need facilitation. Now the facilitator can do one on one coaching and resolve the issues. We find CBT to be the best invention since sliced bread. -Andrew Smith

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