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Worker involvement training courses: early evaluation findings Andrea Broughton 24 March 2011
Evaluation methodology • “Census” telephone survey aiming to capture the views of all managers from participating organisations in the introduction to worker involvement training course • Second wave survey after 12 months • Qualitative telephone interviews with 60 course participants. Three waves: • first wave almost completed • second wave after six months • third wave after 12 months
Results so far: telephone survey • 698 interviews achieved so far in the first wave • 206 interviews achieved so far in the second wave • interviews are 11 minutes long on average, covering: • attitudes to worker involvement in health and safety • practices relating to worker involvement in health and safety • reasons for participating in the training • what organisations would have done if they hadn’t participated in the training • any changes that have taken place in attitudes and practices in the 12 months between the two waves, the reasons for the change, and barriers to making change
Results so far: telephone interviews • 42 interviews achieved so far • Balanced sample in terms of: • company size • when they attended the course • sector • Questions about: • the individual rep • the organisation, including the processes in place before attending the course • views of the course • any impacts from the course in terms of confidence, understanding of the issues, awareness, influencing, interaction, implementation of actions and processes
The participants and their experiences • The participants: often quite sophisticated in terms of health and safety knowledge, including quite a lot of managers • Many attended due to their organisation overhauling H&S practices • High levels of satisfaction with the course overall: even those who did not concretely learn anything new valued it as a refresher • People liked the fact that there were participants from different sectors on the course, although different knowledge levels could cause difficulties • Some fears about the exam, particularly those who were not expecting it, although there was a view that it helped to concentrate the mind • Participants liked the communication/soft skills aspects of the course, the interaction and the practical information • Some were expecting it to be boring and were pleasantly surprised • Participants said they would be happy to recommend the training to colleagues • Some said it was the best course they had ever been on!
Impacts of the course • The main impacts seem to be around: • increased awareness of health and safety: “now when I go around, I see things that I would have ignored before” • increased knowledge of health and safety regulation and rights and responsibilities of workers and employers • improved communication, including between shop floor and management • increased confidence in dealing with health and safety issues, including in conflict situations (although confidence generally high at the outset) • better influencing skills: better able to “sell” health and safety to colleagues and managers • better listening and understanding of body language • some barriers: lack of time, management unwilling to spend
Views on impacts • “We were able to get back to our managers and feed back new strategies. Before the course, we were dealing with issues with a punishment approach. But afterwards, we thought, well maybe this isn’t the solution.” • “We are not telling people, you should wear safety glasses, we are explaining why. By asking them why they were not wearing the safety glasses and listening to their reasons, we were able to change things. This is most valuable lesson learnt in the course.” • “It’s important to make sure that PPE is actually worn. Even for those who occasionally walk through the workshop, such as the office staff. I now make sure that they are properly kitted out. I wouldn’t have done that before”. • “I’m not going to use things that I don’t think are safe. If they fail, there will be a serious accident and that’s not a risk I’m prepared to take.” • “I used to be nervous about discussing health and safety with managers, but now I feel that managers take me more seriously”
Practical impacts • Introduction of new processes or actions such as: • toolbox talks • risk assessments • staff suggestion boxes • recording near misses • better use of PPE • introducing new safety equipment (for working at height) • sending employees on targeted H&S courses • putting guards on machinery • replacing old equipment • identifying and removing hazards • A minority have tried to change how they approach the rep role in a pro-active way • Not many interviewees had formulated an action plan
Who gets the most out of the course? • Those with the least prior experience and knowledge of H&S appear to benefit most from the course • People who directly manage or have responsibility for workers (eg shift managers) – increased confidence in dealing with colleagues, including upper management • Managers benefit to a lesser extent, particularly if their role is particularly in H&S
Some data from wave 2 of the survey • 57.8% of respondents had formal systems in place for involving workers in health and safety • Putting into place new systems: • regular meetings between managers and employees (19) • ad hoc meetings between managers and employees (8) • regular discussions with designated employees (11) • joint manager/employee committee (14) • H&S induction and training courses (4) • encouraging staff to report issues (9) • written feedback from management to staff (11) • staff suggestion scheme (8) • designating H&S manager (2) • consultation on risk assessments (9) • inspections or audits (4) • toolbox talks (8) • provision of information to assist the rep (8) • noticeboards/bulletin boards (13)
Progress in 6 months • 54% said that activities related to their systems to involve workers in H&S occur more often than 6 months ago (41% said as often) • 59% said their H&S worker involvement systems had become more effective in the past 6 months (40% said they were as effective) • have the skills of their H&S reps who attended the course improved over the past 6 months? • 75% said that their communication skills had improved • 58% said that their negotiation skills had improved • 72% said that the quality of their H&S suggestions had improved • 80% said that their overall contribution to H&S had improved
Main changes to H&S policies and practices What changes, if any, do you think that there have been to health and safety policies and practices in your organisation over the past 6 months? 1. New arrangements for consultation 20.4% 2. New personal protective equipment (PPE) 4.9% 3. New policies (eg fork lift truck policy) 17.5% 4. New procedures 39.3% 5. New equipment purchased 4.9% 6. Review of risk assessments 18.4% 7. New method of risk assessment 9.7% Base = 206
Barriers to change • costs (18%) • time (23%) • business pressures/workload (25%) • lack of worker participation (15%) • lack of manager support (13%) • issues around PPE (0%) • communication channels breaking down (1%) • working patterns, eg communication difficult due to shift working (2%)
Some conclusions • Views of the training are very favourable • Starting points are quite high in terms of knowledge and procedures in place: very few starting from scratch • Subtle impacts: formalising or refining existing procedures • Increase in ‘soft skills’: confidence, communication, interaction, awareness • Some progress over six months in terms of new processes and procedures
Next steps • Second wave of telephone survey now underway • Second wave of interviews due to start imminently • Third wave of interviews to start in six months • 6 case studies • Evaluation of the joint training: • interviews with course facilitators • 3 waves of telephone interviews • 6 case studies • Analysis of survey and interview data will measure impact of the training • Interim report due at the end of November 2011 • Final report due at the end of May 2012
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