Is Your Culture Your Biggest Safety Issue?

worker holding slow sign

As workers we must take training seriously because our lives depend on it. Anyone who has worked in any industry long enough can give you several instances where they almost didn’t make it home. What we do not identify often, at least not as frequently as we should, is that the most common reason they did make it home was experience and training.

In training, we forget that the skills we practice and train on are normally routine. There will be that one day where the training you had was the difference between making it home or not. Many workers attribute their survival to luck and determination to survive. We often don’t mention or think about our past training or even past experiences. We are just glad to be safe.

The reality is that everything we do in the workplace is a learned skill. It was taught to us. From the simplest tasks to the most complex, we had to have some training and some experience to be able to proficiently use the skills, including those use to save our own lives or that of someone else (e.g. heights rescue, first aid).
When that close call comes, it is an instant recall that saves us. Your brain remembers what some trainer, supervisors or mentor said or did and you react. Your constant and vigilant practice of skills becomes a part of you and you react without thought. Therefore, training is so vitally important and the culture of the business is very important. If business does not have a learning/proficiency culture we are equipping ourselves for failure and increasing the likelihood that someone we know and care about or ourselves will be injured or killed.
For millennia, militaries across the world have finely tuned the art of repetition in training, for good reason. The harder and more realistic your training the more likely you are to be successful. The more times you practice a skill the more likely you are to flawlessly execute it when you need it. Most of the tasks we do, regardless of how safe we try to be, are inherently dangerous (some industries more than others). We have to train so we are constantly safe and constantly successful.
The more training courses we take the newer the information these courses provide. With knowledge and technology continuing to grow at its current rate there is more available information on how to safely perform our jobs. The way we used to work even 10-15 years ago, in some instances, is now considered unsafe. The most dangerous person in any business is the one who thinks they know everything.
For more senior members of the workforce, constantly learning things you already thought you knew broadens your knowledge base and makes sure information you are imparting to the younger members of the workforce is relevant and current.
Managers and Supervisors have just as much at stake in training as any worker (plus the additional legal ramifications). Whether they realise it or not, their actions are viewed by everybody. They are in the perfect position to positively impact the learning/proficiency culture of the organisation and should be encouraged to participate in training and have them share the relevant big picture issues that the workers don’t always see or understand.
Organisational learning culture does not change overnight, it takes time. It takes investment from the workers, supervisors and managers. Fitting training into an operational schedule is challenging. The culture should be that training is important, that is it valued and that it is vitally important to keep us safe, to keep and improve the work we do for clients and because you can never know too much, and you will never know it all.
Whether you are self-employed, or you are part of a organisation with 2000 staff on 30 sites, it doesn’t matter. Training is important. We should all make it a priority. We should be teaching and not preaching as supervisors and managers and all of us can be agents of change in our own businesses.

If you would like to know more or would like our assistance in the areas mentioned check us out at Alternately, call us on 1300 990 336 or email us at [email protected]

author avatar
Brendan Day Chief Executive Officer
Brendan Day, based in Sydney, is a WHS and Emergency Management expert with a rich background in emergency services, including significant experience as a military firefighter, emergency responder, and emergency response manager. His career spans across both public and private sector roles, where he has developed and implemented comprehensive WHS management and Emergency Management systems. As the CEO and Principle Trainer at Intrinsic Safety, Brendan combines his military discipline with modern safety practices, offering advanced training in workplace health, fire safety, confined spaces, height safety and first aid. His qualifications, including a Diploma of Work Health and Safety, reflect his commitment to safety excellence and continuous improvement in emergency response management and safety practices.
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