How to make positive training programs attractive to OHS professionals

Yesterday’s article on positive training programs and behaviour-based safety (BBS) has generated a great deal of interest and attention.

The article’s title should maybe have specified the “OHS context”.   Like with Return-To-Work, OHS professionals need BBS and positive training to be explained to their understanding so they see how it fits with their own safety management systems.    They need to have their own “light-bulb moment on the relevance of the training not be convinced of the need by a sales person.

HR professionals may be more receptive to positive training concepts because they are more familiar with the psych babble but OHS still has engineering as the basis for the profession.   Only in the last 10 years have OHS professionals accepted (not universally) the legitimacy of psychosocial hazards and that, primarily, because the OHS regulators released guidance on the hazards.

Don’t try to apply leadership and training to OHS through HR because the jargon confuses.  Introduce yourself to some OHS people and listen to them talk of their profession.  Research the attitudes of the OHS people directly.  Do not rely on external research surveys as it is more important for you to understand OHS people than for a survey to report “47% of OHS professionals think resilience training programs are twaddle”.

Once you have listened, go personally to other OHS professionals and practitioners with training programs that can be readily integrated into safety management systems.  Don’t expect your potential clients to exert effort to understand you, it’s your job to understand them.

And don’t expect a quick decision.  Good OHS professionals will ask their colleagues and peers what they think of your programs and concepts before getting back to you.  They may even approach their OHS associations for an opinion.

iStockphotos evangelist

Past approaches to OHS professionals on BBS and similar training have been embarrassing.  One notable BBS advocate from the US spoke around five years ago to about 400 OHS people in Australia.  At morning tea time around half left the (expensive) seminar convinced that BBS was a crock.  That advocate is still highly regarded in the US but Australians just didn’t “get it”.

Slapping up a couple of pictures of the Sydney Opera House in a presentation, or  walking the room like an evangelist, does more harm than good.  Come prepared and prepared to listen and the OHS professional may “get it”…..even just a little bit.

Kevin Jones

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