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Can Training Be Used to Reduce Construction Injuries?

I’ve been in the Construction Industry for five years in the Health Safety and the Environment (HSE) and Learning and Development functions specifically in the UK and Middle East; and in the UK education sector for an additional five years.

Throughout this time my goal, and those of my HSE colleagues, has been to minimize injury on our project site as far as possible. From an HSE perspective I seek to answer the question ‘What are the variables that make our Accident Frequency Rate (AFR) fluctuate, and how can we reduce them?’. From a Training Lead perspective, ‘What is the extent to which training can make a difference to accident rates? And can I show a visible Return On Investment to the Company for training or for any other communication campaign that is rolled out on project?’.

Before undertaking a large research project in 2015 on construction HSE training in the Middle East, I embarked on a Six Sigma Analysis in 2011. My reflection from these projects have been that training is not (and has not proved to be) causally related to injuries, but may be correlated with, and part of a large number of variables that equate to processes of a healthy HSE Management System. This makes our case for improved training a little difficult, and alongside research projects that are precise and definite. Rather research designs are lengthy and combines many different sources of HSE data from those HSE Management System processes. I’ll explain a little more the Six Sigma analysis…

Business Case – a company’s success is based largely on its safety reputation. To mitigate incidents, Companies are able to deliver training programs to educate workers about HSE, hazards and risks, and how these can be controlled. However, in some cases, a company’s overall AFR and those of projects can increase. This is a cyclical process which means AFR’s may increase, and then so do remediation efforts (rewards and discipline processes, incentives, focused training, new initiatives and use of communication methods for instance). 

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