E-learning

E-learning Training via the web can aid environmental compliance By Diane Kramer, Ph.D., CEO, MMA/Impletec Group April 2002 The responsible people in your organization have memorized emergency procedures in your SPCC, FRP...


E-learning

Training via the web can aid environmental compliance

By Diane Kramer, Ph.D., CEO, MMA/Impletec Group

April 2002

The responsible people in your organization have memorized emergency procedures in your SPCC, FRP plan, or emergency operations plan, and are ready to act exactly as required . . . or are they? Here are some considerations for maintaining an effective emergency response program.

About the Author
dkramer@webmma.com

New clients have shared the following stories:

o Staff followed all emergency procedures during a spill, except one - they neglected to immediately inform EPA. Result: a very stiff fine.
o At a recent business disaster recovery meeting, half the companies reported they could not find their plans.
o We were told about three government administrators who had been fired because of lack of responsiveness in an emergency.
o We were told about plans that have emergency procedures buried deep within and, as a result, were not easily accessible.
The implications of not having learned the details of a plan to the point of memorized and practiced 'automatic behavior sequences' in an emergency are enormous. Not only might a company pay stiff fines, but damage to the environment, to the organization's reputation, and to individual careers can result. Consider some of the human factors that limit our responses in emergencies and some possible solutions.

Step one
Let us start with learning. Once individuals have gone through a training program, they should have mastered the learning materials. But how does a supervisor or a company measure training effectiveness?

There are four ways to measure if training is successful.

Level 1) Reaction. Did they like it and leave with a positive impression?

Level 2) Learning. Did they retain information and are able to demonstrate it?

Level 3) Behavior. Are they doing things differently and able to apply it in the real world?

Level 4) Results. Are they integrating what they have learned to improve the organization?

Most training programs stop far short of levels 3 and 4 - the ability to act quickly and effectively under pressure. Taking effective action under pressure requires repeated training under simulated conditions until mastery is achieved, like the firemen who practice water rescues across from my house on a weekly basis.

Regarding memory, the fact is that the average amount of material retained from reading a plan or from taking a training course is 21 percent in six months - and declines from there. These statistics do not predict a high likelihood of effective response in emergency situations. (To test this, we asked a number of clients to tell us what steps they needed to take in emergencies. If this had been a graded test at school, most would have failed.)

And, there is the human response to stress when we encounter a stressor (anything identified as a threat). Do we act effectively and clearly? In fact, under stress most people go into "emergency operation." Mentally, they shut down and cannot see choices. Panic and poor judgment become the norm. Anxiety, frustration, fear, and dread replace logic.

Given the human factors, it is highly unlikely that people will react appropriately in an emergency without careful and repeated training to behavioral mastery and integration -i.e., levels 3 and 4.

Solutions used by companies include extensive and repeated training for employees to the level of mastery; simulating real emergencies; and sending personnel repeatedly to training programs until they reach a high level of mastery.

But what if they forget? What about new hires or change in roles? What if the training you need is not available when you need it?

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