Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Measuring the Effectiveness of Safety Training

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Measuring the Effectiveness of Safety Training

Article excerpt

A formal safety training program evaluation process helps ensure that training is being performed correctly and is meeting the organization's goals.

The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance," Benjamin Franklin once said, If training is considered the "essentials" and learning the "added value," what good is any education or learning if we do not realistically measure the results and effectiveness of the process and programs?

Before anyone can evaluate the effectiveness of health and safety education and training, a series of pre-planned steps should be taken for optimum results.

Why Evaluate Training Programs?

A detailed evaluation will assist in the justification of any costs related to training and education. Through evaluation, the process and programs can be improved for better results the next time they are implemented or updated. Some questions that could be asked to commence the evaluation process and identify target areas:

* How urgent is the training?

* What benefits will come from the proposed training? How will these benefits offset training costs, and when will they begin showing up?

* How long will it be before those taking training will require retraining? How much additional training will they require?

* When can the training best be scheduled?

* How long will the projected training take to complete?

* What resources will be needed? Which of these will come from within the organization? Which from without the organization?

* What are the objectives of the training (in measurable terms)?

* What training methods will be used?

* By whom and how will the training be reviewed?

* How will the success of the training be determined?

* Who will determine the success of the training?

The outcome or answers to these questions will provide the structure for the actual training program(s)and the evaluations(s).

Principles of Evaluation

It is important to design a mechanism for measurement to enable evaluation of the effectiveness of the training program. Ideally, the evaluation should be planned at the same time as the training program. This would allow sufficient time and credibility to carry the process out at several levels and at several times. The reason for this is simply that programs change and differ between locations. Programs have a number of different elements, and one short evaluation does not capture all these factors. It pays to follow a rigorous evaluation design simply because it will provide more faith in the outcome.

Evaluation Approvals and Methods

Four key criteria for measuring the effectiveness of training programs and appropriate ways to measure the criteria are illustrated below:

CRITERIA                     METHOD
Reaction of                  Questionnaire to gain
trainees to                  opinions, perceptions
- quality of instructor      or attitudes
- relevance of content
- time allowed
Learning what has            Pre/post test
taken place                  comparisons
in training course           (oral/written quiz)
Behavioral changes           Observations by
- transfer of skills to job  supervisor
                             Demonstration/use
                             of skills gained
Impact of training           "Soft" measures such
- comparison of              as climate
course goals                 surveys of attitudes
against results              toward safety
achieved                     "Hard" data re: safety
                             record/injuries and
                             losses

This chart represents a full range of evaluation strategies not often possible given budget constraints and the difficulties of gaining cooperation through the whole process. …

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