Two Birds, One Stone

By Randy Logsdon

Don Wilson was the featured keynote speaker for day two of the New Mexico Mine Health and Safety Conference on May 8. Wilson is the vice president of SafeStart, a commercially marketed injury prevention system.

While Wilson made a number of important points, one in particular stood out in my mind as exceptionally brilliant. I use the term “brilliant” because it was both simple and logical. Add to that a unique efficiency factor because application of Wilson’s suggestion addresses two critical issues at once.

To employ an overused phrase, it kills two birds with one stone. His concept may not be new, but (to my knowledge) this is the first time someone has offered this particular application. It intrigued me.

Issue One
Data collected and published by the National Safety Council clearly indicates that the number of fatal and serious injuries occurring in off-the job activities is far greater than the number of similar incidents that occur on the job. This holds true even when adjusted for exposure. These figures are taken from the NSC’s 2012 Injury Facts:

  • In 2010, the NSC reports 37.9 million medically consulted injuries were documented. Of those, five million were work related (13.2 percent).
  • Of the 126,100 unintentional deaths, 3,783 occurred on the job (3 percent). In a different perspective, there were 40.7 unintentional deaths per 100,000 people. A minor fraction of those (1.2 deaths per 100,000 people) account for those who died from injuries at work.

If we characterize the number of work-related deaths each year as unacceptable, how can we possibly justify the overwhelming number of off-the-job deaths?

Issue Two
Since the first-ever occupational injury, we have relied heavily on education and training as an essential tool in our accident prevention arsenal. Despite our advances and improvements in training (particularly in content) our injury experience still relies largely on the retention of knowledge and the application of skills – the application of what is taught.

Researchers have learned that certain training techniques generate better retention than others and have produced a hierarchy of average learning retention rates based on their work.

Technique Retention Rate
Lecture 5%
Reading 10%
Audio Visual 20%
Demonstration 30%
Discussion Group 50%
Practice by Doing 75%
Teaching Other 90%

By far, the most effective training technique for retention is for someone to teach others. This implies that in the process of preparing to teach and by virtue of the act of teaching someone else, one will be forced or motivated to learn and understand the material at a level well above simple cognitive learning. Ninety percent retention is a significant improvement over the next best technique – practice by doing (75 percent).

So, Don Wilson’s brilliant idea was to provide employees with the resources and opportunity that they then use to teach and train their family members (and friends) effective accident-prevention systems and techniques.

Empower and encourage each employee to extend the knowledge, systems, procedures and techniques that effectively control losses in the work environment to application in the home, on the highway, and in recreational settings.

Result: Improve the training retention level of your employees and impact the off-the-job safety of your employees, their families and the community. Two birds, one stone.

Randy K. Logsdon, CMSP, is manager of safety for Intrepid Potash New Mexico operations. He has practiced safety on both the coal and metal/non-metal side of mining for more than 30 years. Randy is a Certified Mine Safety Professional. ­­­He can be reached at [email protected].

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