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The View from 30 Feet

Game Training: Engaging Employees at Poly-Cast

by Brittany Willes, contributing editor

Plastics Business

Business gurus often talk about the view from 30,000 feet – the big picture that provides a look at overall operations. Perhaps, however, the focus should be on the view from 30 feet – a close-up of specific processes and procedures that make an impact now.

Long, tedious, dull – words often used to describe videos and other training materials employers use to keep employees informed and up to date with the latest policies and safety practices. While such videos undoubtedly contain useful information for workers, that information is rarely absorbed or is quickly forgotten as workers fail to pay attention to presentations that drone on and on. To combat this, companies such as Poly-Cast, Inc., Tigard, Oregon, are taking a new approach when it comes to training materials and employee safety.

Currently in the process of converting to the new OSHA requirements for GHS and SDS, Poly-Cast Purchasing Agent Audrey Zuvich began searching for training materials that would impart all of the necessary information to Poly-Cast employees. “This is very important information regarding their safety,” Zuvich explained. As she researched, Zuvich thought about the different ways in which people learn and the best ways to encourage employees to engage with the new information. “I started thinking about my daughter and how she learns more quickly when she’s having fun,” remarked Zuvich. “I thought about my own military training and college experiences. I really only remember the things that I enjoyed learning about or where the teacher engaged in alternative teaching methods. So, I thought, why not try it for this?”

After extensive internet research, Zuvich found three different resources she believed would best serve employees. She was determined that the main training video contain all the appropriate information while still being fairly short, preferably less than 15 minutes. Additionally, the visuals needed to look professional and be interesting enough to hold people’s attention for the length of the video. In the end, Zuvich selected a 12-minute GHS training video produced by PAMCANI Alliance and PCA safety consultant Roger Paveza. “I ended up watching portions of about 20 different videos (a small fraction of what is available) before I found the ones I liked best,” Zuvich noted.

Zuvich also selected a second GHS HazCom training video from Excal Visual. “I thought this would be an excellent source to put on our television in the lunch room,” she stated. It was decided that for a few days every month, the video could be put on continuous play in the lunchroom in order to reinforce the training. “Excal Visual, the makers of this particular video,” Zuvich remarked, “has a lot of other YouTube videos, and if this works well with learning the new OSHA-regulated GHS labeling requirements, it might be a good source to help reinforce other trainings.”

Finally, Zuvich searched for alternative training materials to further help employees retain the new safety regulations. Knowing she wanted something that would be a fun learning experience, she looked for a game for learning the nine new hazard symbols. She eventually found one on the GHS training website. “I want the employees at Poly-Cast to succeed in learning this information so they are safe in their environment,” stated Zuvich. “Considering that the average person’s attention span is only eight seconds, it was important to me to have materials that utilize memorization skills,” she said. The game involves identifying pictograms in a timed setting and can be played on a computer or smartphone. Zuvich loaded the game to one employee’s phone and asked him to test it. By the end of the day, the employee was able to correctly recognize seven of the nine symbols. By the end of the week, he remembered and recognized all nine. Zuvich feels using the game as a learning tool is a very effective way for employees to learn the new symbols.

While Poly-Cast has not yet implemented the new training materials for the majority of its workforce, the company plans to do so at its annual training session. However, employees who have watched both training videos and tried the game believe these training methods helped them learn and retain the information and feel it will be beneficial for the rest of the workforce. Furthermore, Zuvich has shared her research and experiences with other MAPP members and has received many positive responses.

“Everyone learns differently,” Zuvich affirmed. “We learn at different rates and by different methods; however, it has been scientifically proven that we learn best when we engage multiple senses and use repetitive processes. My goal is to provide the information in as many different ways as possible in the hope that they retain and use this knowledge to keep themselves, and their fellow employees, safe in the workplace.”