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The sickening consequences of not providing effective training

After the deaths of four people on a theme park ride, Ardent Leisure has been charged under the Work Health and Safety Act (Qld) for failing to provide proper safety training for staff.

The independent Work Health and Safety Prosecutor said the company failed to provide and maintain safe plant and structures, safe work systems, and proper training and supervision of staff.

It’s hard to believe that this tragic event actually happened in Australia in 2020. Safety risks have long been recognised in our organisational culture, but happen it did. 

That the accident was described as entirely preventable, is sickening.

So, it’s an important reminder for all leaders, but particularly for learning and development and risk professionals, of the connection between the organisation’s training and risk plans.

What effective training looks like should be determined against the level of risk. Although there was training provided to staff by Ardent Leisure, a ride operator gave evidence that the training she received was for 90 minutes, on the first day she began operating the ride. When asked about the emergency stop button on the ride, a ride operator told police, staff were instructed “not to worry about that button” and that “no-one uses it”.

The coronial inquest heard the deaths of four people could have been avoided with the press of an emergency button.

Training in some organisations is viewed as solely for “compliance” purposes and of course compliance is an organisational requirement. However, effective training should support staff to perform a job well and safely, in addition to meeting compliance requirements. 

Effective training stimulates, educates and motivates trainees. Effective training delivers a great return on investment to organisations and individuals through increased job satisfaction and staff retention. Effective training also supports risk management.

One of the ways to manage risk through training is to ensure you have the required documented policies and procedures. Training should then be developed and delivered to embed those documented policies and procedures, within the organisation’s culture.

Key to an effective training program is:

  1. relevant content (aligned with the organisation’s policies and procedures)
  2. content developed for the audience
  3. content developed at the level of detail commensurate with risk
  4. delivery in an engaging format and using a suitable model
  5. an evaluation against outcomes
  6. updates to training based on evaluation findings
  7. a schedule for training to be repeated regularly.

As the recession starts to bite later this year, organisations will look for ways to cut budgets. Unfortunately, training can be one of the first areas where budget is reduced or removed altogether. 

If you’re responsible for learning and development, we recommend connecting with your risk team and the risk strategy, to support continued investment in training.