Accelerative Learning in High Hazard Industries

Accelerative Learning in High Hazard Industries

Apr 08, 2020 | By David Turberfield

Accelerative Learning in High Hazard Industries

On the 26 April 2016, a delivery of 1.5 tons of steel mesh makes its way to a construction yard in Singapore. The load needs to be lifted from the truck using the truck crane and lowered to the ground. Two workers rig up the load which starts to buckle as it comes down. One of the workers reaches up to straighten it, putting himself in the line of fire. The corroded lifting chain fails and the load gives way, crushing him to death. The workers didn’t know how to lift safely.

Three months later on 26 July 2016, three workers prepare to clean a 3m deep underground storage tank. The first worker enters the tank with a flood lamp. When he switches the lamp on, flammable gasses in the tank ignite and the explosion blows him out of the tank. All three workers suffered severe burns, one needing reconstructive surgery for his nose, lips and ears. The workers were not aware of the dangers of confined space entry.

Stories such as these are in the news every day. In Singapore alone there were over 12,800 workplace injuries in 2018 and 41 workers lost their lives. In the USA, there are more than 14 workplace fatalities every day. Investigation reports sometimes point to lack of training as a contributory factor but more often conclude that training had been provided, but was not effective in changing behavior.

When people talk about ‘death by PowerPoint’, they generally mean that the training is boring. In safety, however, ‘death by PowerPoint’ can be literal. Imagine a team of folks struggling to stay awake as a presenter puts them through several hours of slides on rigging and lifting, confined space entry, chemical management, working at height etc. The next day they are in the field entering a tank… If they cant remember, the results can be fatal. This is why high hazard industries are increasingly applying Accelerative Learning (AL) to their safety training.

Having certified in AL, Michael Killingsworth brought AL to American Airlines, achieving strong business results before moving to Royal Dutch Shell, eventually becoming VP of Learning and Organizational Effectiveness. AL has been embedded into the design and delivery of many of Shell’s programs and as a former client of mine, also into their safety learning processes. The company has now trained hundreds of safety professionals in AL and high impact facilitation around the world and has become a benchmark for safety across the industry.

Tapping into our innate potential for learning in a way that traditional learning methods cannot, AL is an obvious and powerful learning approach for safety. Being activity-based and learner-driven, AL uses physical activity, creativity, colour, images and the whole training environment to fully involve learners in their own learning experience. Trainers become “the guide on the side” as opposed to the “sage on the stage”, facilitating the learning process and delivering content only to supplement the learners’ own process of discovery and creation.

AL is a tried and tested learning approach for safety. It has been found to significantly improve memory and retention in the field and to provide higher levels of return on investment in safety training. If you are in a high hazard industry, with a significant annual spend on safety training but are still struggling to get your training to stick, AL is well worth considering.