Improved Health And Safety Through Workplace Literacy Training
Most businesses face the issues of losing cost time due to injuries at work and the cost of not complying with health and safety regulations.
Recent analysis of the effects of Workplace Literacy training shows that health and safety can be dramatically improved through incorporating literacy training into workplace practices. Following a literacy training programme at Fletcher Aluminum and Selecon, carried out by Workbase, time lost through injury improved by 69% and 41% respectively.
The employee’s communication skills to fully understand and implement their health and safety systems are found to have gaps in both businesses.
Fletcher Aluminium is a business unit of the Fletcher Building Group. Its site includes a 2000 metric tonne press where aluminium is extruded at 500 º C and two surface finishing plants where corrosive chemicals are used. Fletcher Aluminium’s HR Manager reported “Lost time due to injuries has reduced to zero. We haven’t had a lost time injury in over three years. There is a greater awareness of company values and an understanding of safety after three years of the start of the literacy program.
Selecon is a manufacturer of lighting equipment chiefly for the entertainment industry and is now part of Philips Lighting Entertainment division. Selecon lately embarked on a lean manufacturing programme. Health and safety are an integral part of the programme.
The literacy training programme of Selecon has been running for just over a year. Selecon’s Production Manager says, “The literacy programme is tailored to the actual day-to-day requirements that are expected from the participants. This means that we are able to see the gains made directly through the support that the programme offers. Our lost time due to injury has dropped by 41% and absenteeism by 28%.”
The reason why employees do not identify with either the need to keep safe or how to keep themselves safe is because they have low literacy skills. They may be able to read their morning paper, but they can’t read a health and safety manual.
Workbase analysed what literacy skills were needed in each of the businesses in these workplace literacy programmes and then the training was based on the literacy, numeracy and language skills of the employees involved.
It was evident in the needs analyses that that many staff did not understand the terminology around health and safety procedures, how to recognize hazards or to illustrate what to do.
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