Break Risky Job Site Habits w/out Hazard to Workers or Equipment

Educational And Creative Composition With The Message Stop Bad HabitsBreaking and Forming habits – Habits are a good servant, but a bad master. This post covers how ‘Practice without physical consequence’ can help change that muscle memory.

On any job site, the habits instilled in your employees can either make or break your organization. Bad habits especially often mean lost money and headaches – so how do you correct them while ensuring good habits are formed by all new workers moving forward?

The Shortcut Mentality

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

First, let’s discuss how bad habits are formed – because it’s impossible to fix something without understanding its root cause.

Bad habits become engrained through repetition, but they are often formed through human nature, specifically the “follow the crowd” mentality.

This is evident in a fascinating video experiment by 9GAG.TV (see below), where a number of “planted” patients in a doctor’s waiting room stand up every time an unexplained tone sounds in the waiting room. One unsuspecting woman – the subject of the experiment – is confused by this phenomenon at first, but ultimately, and surprisingly quickly, conforms to the behavior of the group. She stands at the sound of the tone, even though she doesn’t know why. And she continues to even after the planted participants leave the room.

Bad habits are formed in the same way, often starting with “bad” training and snowballing from there:

  • Workers who don’t learn proper procedures initially pass down gaps in information to new employees
  • Trainers feeling pressured to keep up with production demands develop shortcuts which infiltrate the workforce over time, becoming part of the training they impart
  • Workers trained correctly once upon a time, but receiving little or no refresher training, forget protocols over time

Even new employees who receive proper training will eventually pick up the bad habits of more senior workers, simply by witnessing and emulating them. This tribal knowledge causes major problems when everyone in the organization now has the same bad habits and perpetuates the cycle.

What kind of problems? Here are a few:

Equipment damage – with less than comprehensive training, or when rushing to be productive, accidental misuse can result in breakdown of expensive equipment

Injuries/death – whether because workers are rushing through protocols or are simply unaware of proper procedures, bad habits can result in serious injury or even fatalities

Halts in production – both of the above scenarios cause production to stop

And all three scenarios are costly – financially, time- and morale-wise. In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported almost 3 million cases of non-fatal workplace illnesses and injuries. Fatal cases exceeded 4 thousand. Businesses need to take risk in certain ventures, but training methods shouldn’t be one of them.

So what’s the solution?

A new – and more literal – spin on the “fake it ’til you make it” cliché: Simulation Training. If it’s worked for Airline Pilots for 2+ decades, it certainly works for any hard skilled job training.

Simulation technology like 3D Interactive Training provides a system that’s easy for trainers and trainees to follow – creating the necessary consistency to instill good habits and keep your organization running like a well-oiled machine.

It won’t happen overnight, or because you say so. Just as bad habits develop over time, they need to be broken over time, and replaced with good ones. Start with a solid training program that’s easily deployed at scale. An iPad like device loaded with 3D Interactive Modules is a great option for getting all workers on the same page – while keeping them engaged, safe, and actively learning at their own pace.

See the video capture of a worker practicing steps involved in a typical Lock Out-Tag Out (LOTO) safety procedure.

Workers are evaluated at each step along the way, and only move on to the next module when they are proficient at the current one. Best of all, the technology does the work – eliminating any chance of trainers passing along modified versions of work procedures, which may not be as efficient, or even correct.

This works with refresher training as well – i.e., getting your trainers back on track – and is easily available anytime, at the push of a button. So there’s no delay in getting everyone on the same page. Reduce the need to travel, bring in consultants, or shut down equipment for the sake of retraining. All you need is time, and consistency.

Creating good habits starts at the top of any organization – with a commitment to safe, effective training at the outset, and ongoing. Make simulation technology part of your training program and break free of the bad habits holding you back.

Does your Operation & Maintenance training allow for Visual and Interactive ‘hands-on’ practice? Reach out now to discuss your training roadmap.