Previously, we discussed how you can support your Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) after a workplace accident. In part 2 we examine how you can support your workplace trainers after a workplace accident.
Having a workplace trainer or trainers on staff is beneficial in many ways: it gives the employer greater flexibility while reducing training costs, increases compliance, and makes training record management less complicated. Whether workplace training is facilitated in-house by a worker or outsourced to a training provider (like OSG), the aim is to improve health and safety in the workplace. Despite an industry-approved training program and the best effort given by a workplace trainer, what happens if an accident occurs?
In the wake of a workplace tragedy, a workplace trainer may be left feeling like they’ve failed. Many workplace trainers volunteer for the role because they’re passionate about health and safety. They believe training makes a difference in their coworkers’ lives, and that it helps to ensure that all workers work safely, remain healthy, and are able to return home to family and friends at the end of each shift. Their goal is to prevent workplace accidents, injuries, and fatalities, so when one occurs, workplace trainers really take it to heart.
Following a serious accident, your training team may require emotional support in order to cope. Their feelings may be complicated by the belief that they are somehow responsible, as they were in charge of providing the training that could have prevented the accident. It’s not the fault of the workplace training team; ensure that this message is clear. Below are some tips for supporting workplace trainers in the wake of a tragedy:
Hold a meeting with all workplace trainers after an accident. Providing open communication about what happened and the root causes of the accident will give workplace trainers a better understanding of what went wrong, and where training gaps can be filled for future sessions. This meeting can be a way to communicate information and ask trainers how they are coping, and offer support. Ask workers if they need additional professional support.
Ensure that Workplace Trainers Use Your Organization’s EAP
Does your EAP (Employee Assistance Program) include crisis counselling? If not, talk to your benefits provider about adding it. If so, ensure that those services are available to the workplace training team, and all other workers, following an incident. Employees should be informed of what services are included and how to access them. If your organization does not have an EAP, be proactive and talk to a benefits provider about implementing an EAP before an incident occurs.
Encourage Transparency in Training Sessions
Some organizations have cultures of secrecy, but that only serves to breed misinformation, gossip, and politically motivated behaviours. Don’t ask your workplace trainers not to discuss the accident in training, and don’t stigmatize the accident by refusing to discuss it. Encourage workplace trainers to answer questions frankly and factually if any should come up in the course of the training session. Be sure that the organization is clear in their message of their continued trust in the workplace trainer’s ability to provide effective safety training that supports the company’s health and safety program.
Recognize that a catastrophic injury or fatality will affect some workplace trainers more than others. Be understanding, as employee morale is likely to drop temporarily, along with productivity. Workplace trainers may be harbouring a lot of misplaced guilt. They were tasked with showing their peers how to work safely. They may believe that somewhere along the line, there was a disconnect in their safety message that led to an accident. Allow workplace trainers time to come to terms with their new reality of being trainers tasked with training in the wake of a tragic accident.
Use the Accident as a Training Tool, so it Never Happens Again
Trainers may wish to discuss the accident as a training tool, so that it never happens again. A co-worker may have lost his or her life or been gravely injured, and this is going to deeply impact staff. It’s important to honour the victim by remembering that they were someone’s loved one and more than just a training tool; however, it will also honour the victim to ensure that an accident of the same nature is never repeated. Some workplace trainers may find talking about the accident therapeutic. Helping to ensure that others understand the reality, impact, causes, and consequences of what happened will help trainers drive home the importance of safety training, while honouring their co-worker and friend.
Coworkers, very often, are also friends, so having to come to terms with a workplace accident or fatality that affected a colleague can be tough, especially for workplace trainers who may have trained that person in the past. Be ready to support workplace trainers in the worst-case scenario.
If you have questions about helping your trainers cope with a workplace accident please do not hesitate to contact us. If you need to certify your workplace trainers, review our Train-the-Trainer courses.
Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator
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