Health and Safety Practitioner Competency Development Using Experiential Learning
During the construction of a copper mine in Kazakhstan, the contractor health and safety (H&S) team had members who lacked necessary competency in hazard recognition and intervention skills to support the projects Zero Harm philosophy. An action research method was used in this study to create, assess, and improve an intervention strategy of developing the contractor H&S team competencies using experiential learning at the work site. A training and development program that used classroom instruction, hazard control bulletins for specific site hazards, and experiential learning activities supported by task observation checklists to aid in hazard identification in the work area was developed and implemented. The experiential learning process used a four-step cyclic process of planning for task observation in the work area, observation, engagement, and reflection. Task observation checklists were developed and became an effective tool to support hazard recognition. The average number of at-risk deficiencies identified and corrected per observation was three. Critical reflection after the task observation and engagement experience was used by the H&S practitioners to recognize what they learned, how the learning could be applied to future situations, and reflection allowed for the consideration of what knowledge and skills still required further development. This study found that the experiential learning approach implemented, supported by mentoring was effective to train health and safety practitioners in the evidence-based practice of hazard identification and risk management in their work areas.
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