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Rethinking the Role of HSE Training

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

In my experience as an HSE Consultant in the oil and gas sector, I've been involved in numerous incident investigations. A common theme I've observed is the attribution of incidents to 'insufficient safety training.' This has led me to reflect critically on whether increasing HSE training is the panacea for reducing accidents and incidents in this industry.

1) Training vs. Retention of Knowledge

It's a misconception among some HSE professionals that once training is provided, their job is done. However, the reality is that retention rates from traditional classroom training are often low. Studies suggest that we retain only a fraction of what we are taught in a classroom setting. Therefore, while providing HSE training is crucial, it's equally important to consider how training is delivered and how much of it is genuinely absorbed and retained by employees.

2) Employee Morale and Motivation

Understanding what motivates and demotivates employees is crucial. Demotivation can stem from various factors, including dissatisfaction with their job, management, or feeling undervalued. A holistic approach to employee engagement is needed to truly improve safety outcomes, far beyond the scope of training alone.

3) The Purpose of HSE Training

Often, there's a disconnect between the perceived value of HSE training by those at the executive level and those on the ground. If training is viewed as irrelevant, it's likely to be dismissed. Therefore, tailoring HSE training to meet the specific needs and contexts of different work teams is crucial in ensuring its effectiveness and relevance.

4) Alternatives to Classroom Training

Not everyone responds well to traditional classroom training environments. As HSE professionals, we must consider alternative, more adult-centric training methods that could yield better engagement and results. This might include on-the-job training, interactive e-learning, or practical simulations.

5) Importance of Adequate Resources

No matter how comprehensive the training, employees also need the right tools and resources to perform their tasks safely and effectively. It's a common pitfall to focus solely on training without considering if the workforce has the necessary equipment, processes, and support to implement their training effectively.

6) Hiring the Right People

Sometimes, the root cause of safety issues is not the lack of training but rather having the wrong people in certain roles. Ensuring that employees have the aptitude and ability for their designated tasks is as important as training them. This is where effective HR strategies and competent line management play a crucial role.

7) Broadening the Safety Strategy

While HSE training is a key component, it should be part of a broader strategy encompassing employee engagement, performance management, and continuous improvement. Understanding the role of each employee, equipping them adequately, and ensuring clarity in job roles and expectations are essential steps in reducing workplace incidents and accidents.

In conclusion, while HSE training is an integral part of safety management in the oil and gas industry, it's not a standalone solution. A more comprehensive approach is needed – one that includes proper resource allocation, employee engagement, effective hiring practices, and alternative training methods. By delving deeper into these aspects, we can find more holistic solutions to improving safety outcomes in the workplace.

Source: Learning Solutions Magazine (2014)

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