Chunk-It

chunking.png
One way athletes are often taught to learn a new skill is by breaking it down into small chunks and then perfecting each of these steps.  In The Little Book of Talent, Daniel Coyle writes “Chunks are to skill what letters of the alphabet are to language. Alone, each is nearly useless, but when combined into bigger chunks (words), and … combined into still bigger things (sentences, paragraphs), they can build something complex and beautiful.”

Chunking is one way to help trainees to remember more. (See my earlier post on “Reducing” for more). If you are training a class how to do something, think about how you could break down (chunk) each part of the act and focus on each step separately. Let’s take an easy example – how to use a fire extinguisher (from OSHA’s website)

The first step shown is to select the appropriate screenshot_513.png

To chunk down this instruction, you could concentrate on the 4 steps listed as separate training “chunks.”

Pull the Pin – Can you set up a situation where trainees get to actually break the tamper seal and pull the pin? Is there anything else you assume they should know – or anything that you believe to be “common sense” but might need special reinforcement?

Aim – Can you do a demonstration that shows what happens when you aim at the base and when you aim elsewhere?  Can the trainees practice? How far away should you stand? What is a realistic situation for a workplace fire in your facility? It most certainly won’t look like the bonfire shown in the OSHA image. Will it be in a trashcan? If so, how do you aim at the base if you can’t see the base? When should a trainee attempt to put the fire out with the extinguisher and  when should they leave the area? (that question gives me an idea for a new training activity  – let me know if you want to see what I come up with). Think how you can break this step down to make the training as specific, realistic and applicable to the trainees’ work environment as possible.

Squeeze  – How hard does the handle need to be squeezed? How long? What if someone doesn’t have great hand strength? Do you need to squeeze fast or slow? Do you fingers go on top or bottom of the handle? What happens with it begins discharging? Is it easier or more difficult to squeeze the handle? What if they are wearing gloves? Is it more difficult? Can you have the trainees practice?

Sweep – How long and how fast do you sweep from side to side? How long will the extinguisher last? How will you know how long it will last before you use it? What should you do if the extinguisher runs out before the fire is out?  If the fire appears out, how long do you need to watch it? Should you throw water on it or do anything else after the fire is gone?

Do you get the idea? Each step in a relatively simple set of instructions can be broken down into a mini-topic. If you can’t see trainees face-to-face on consecutive days or weeks to cover each mini-topic (while referencing what was previous learned) maybe you could send out for emails or text messages with each focusing on one of the steps.

Four simple steps might seem just like four simple steps but as you can see by the random questions each step generated above, there could be a lot of questions zooming around your trainees head. If you don’t talk about actual fire possibilities in your workplace and specific conditions and challenges that might come with those fires, the training information will not stick so with every chunk you are able to create, make sure to integrate the real-world information your trainees need to know.

 

There is No Bad Weather

IMG_4176 (1)It’s 73 degrees and sunny in New Jersey today, February 21st. (The above photo was taken just 3 days ago.)  That means that dogs that haven’t seen the ground past their own backyard since November will get walked and that wannabe Tour de France racers will be fully decked out and clogging the streets. This small burst of beautiful weather sucks people out of their houses like a strong magnet picking up a box of spilled nails.  I myself am working outside today getting a much needed dose of vitamin D.

I think people truly enjoy being out but they rarely walk the dogs, ride their bikes or push their strollers when it is not so nice. While living in Amsterdam, I learned a very important lesson – There is no bad weather – only bad clothes. What this basically means is that everyday is a great day to be outside if you are dressed appropriately. How true is that? Seriously, with rain pants, a waterproof jacket with a hood, and rain boots, you can enjoy the outdoors with the added benefit of having it to pretty much to yourself.  I have researched and purchased the warmest gloves, the best warm but lightweight jacket and warmest slip and water resistant boots and with this kit, I am free to go out no matter the weather. I love heading into the woods on days like this because no one else will be there. Perfect solitude. It’s great.

Safety often involves some very specialized clothing. There are some jobs that should not  be attempted without the right clothes. Of course you can, but you will likely run into problems, if not today, then eventually.  Think about some of the accidents you may have investigated. Were any of the recommended solutions related to clothing or most likely footwear? How many times have you seen things not go as planned, both in and outside of work because of the wrong choice of clothing or shoes?

When my daughter was young, she was riding a bicycle while wearing Crocs. If you know Crocs, you know these were not a good choice. This resulted in a fall and broken foot. My son decided to take a kayak out into the sea while vacationing in Mexico. Who needs shoes when kayaking right? While kayaking he was fine but when he stepped out near the shore – and onto a pile of very sharp coral – we all soon realized how helpful proper footwear would have been.

Have you yourself ever stopped an activity because it was either too hot or too cold? Whose fault is that? Certainly not mother nature’s. With the proper clothing you can enjoy whatever it is you like to enjoy outdoors without any hesitation. Remember, there is no bad weather – only bad clothes.

I’ll never look at trash removal crews the same

trashtruck

“With less experienced helpers, Caban taught them what they needed to know. “Place your back, your legs, and your arms like if you’re swinging a golf club,” he explained. Swinging a bag like a baseball bat will risk spraying garbage juice in your partner’s eyes or mouth. Hold the bag away from your body to avoid gashes from glass. For lighter bags, use a down-and-up-and-over torso twist-swing. For heavier ones, over 70 or 80 pounds, do a full 360-degree spin-and-drag move, not unlike an Olympic hammer throw, using the weight of the bag to gain momentum.”

The above paragraph is just one paragraph from a really disturbing article that appeared in ProPublica titled ” Trashed: Inside the Deadly World of Private Garbage Collection” by Kiera Feldman.  As a safety professional, I’m sure you will be as disturbed by the working conditions of these nighttime, private garbage collectors. I will never look at them the same way again. To read the article, click here.