AUTHOR: Bartholomew Jae

Five reasons why high-stakes education has a role in safety

High-stakes education refers to learning and development that results in attaining a credential.  This credential may come in many forms, including: Traditional degrees and certificates from a higher education or professional institute (i.e., Masters, PHD, or Professional Certificate Programs, etc.) Professional licenses or qualifications that allow holders to perform specific tasks and/or roles (i.e., driver license, licensed electrician, or qualified electrical worker, etc.) Contemporary micro-credentials that signify an educational or performance achievement (i.e., digital badges that can be found on BADGR or Credly and shared online) Internal or external professional certification programs and designations with qualification requirements, rigorous examination, and continuing education and renewal requirements (i.e., NFPA Certified Fire Protection Specialists, Scrum masters, Society of HR Management or Project Management Institute Certifications, etc.) Credentials can be used to prequalify candidates for jobs, projects, and promotions; bolster a company’s qualification for bidding on client projects; and in marketing campaigns to prove the company’s commitment to quality.  Regulators and employers have also used credentials to set the baseline for competency to improve performance and safety. High-stakes education and credentials help ensure that facilities, fire protection and life safety systems, and work safety programs are well designed, managed, and maintained.  This in turn keeps productivity disruption- and incident-free; lives and property safe; and operator and employer reputations free of citations, fines, and bad press. Here are five more reasons why high-stakes education are helpful within the NFPA Fire and Life safety Ecosystem™: Vigilance: Vigilance is the opposite of complacency, and complacency is the enemy of a safety culture. As workplaces and communities evolve, companies must be vigilant in their pursuit of best practices and emerging codes and standards related to safety. Training aligned with certifications developed by subject matter experts that require continuing education help to ensure that their people are getting the right training to pass a rigorous certification exam and maintaining that high bar through continuous professional development. Investing in people: The retirement of the baby boomer generation and the great resignation from the workforce have left many organizations with deep experience gaps. However, organizations can make up for some of this gap by investing in high-stakes education to consistently set and raise the baseline of knowledge and skills for less experienced professionals. An investment in high-stakes education is also an investment in the workforce, which leads to higher employee engagement, loyalty, and quality of their work. When organizations and individuals spend time and energy on high-stakes education, they become more invested in its outcome. There is a direct correlation between pride and performance for having achieved a credential through high-stakes education. Raising the bar: Employers do not want to suffer financially and reputationally for avoidable incidents. Clients do not want disruptions or rework caused by failed inspections. Code enforcers do not want to waste limited resources and time reviewing recurring non-compliant designs and installations. Credentials earned through high-stakes education and certification help skilled professionals to stand out among their competition and provide peace of mind to key stakeholders. Companies investing in high-stakes education for their workforce are signaling to internal and external stakeholders that safety is part of their brand promise and that they intend to get the work done right the first time. Compliance: Regulators demand formal training as part of safety programs. High-stakes education signals to regulators that the organization is serious about its compliance with regulatory requirements. While organizations should always complement external programs with internal education on policies and procedures, externally managed credential and high-stakes education help to alleviate internal resources for program development, maintenance, and management. Safety culture – Credentials that have regular recertification or renewal periods and continuing education requirements help to keep workforce knowledge and skills relevant. Professionals who maintain their credentials are keeping up with emerging issues, changes in codes and standards, and the latest best practices in their respective fields. These requirements promote ongoing learning and curiosity as part of an effective safety culture in today’s disruptive environment. Competent and skilled professionals are critical for any business providing services or operating with fire, life, and electrical hazards. By incorporating high-stakes education into the workforce safety curriculum, an organization is investing in its people, results, and future. Find out more on how NFPA training and certifications can deliver high-stakes education to your business and workforce.
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10 Ways to Make Your Safety Culture Thrive

Safety implications for businesses extend far beyond injury and property damage. An effective safety culture is critical to ensuring that business operations and output continue, and that facilities remain incident-free. Here are ten ways that organizations can invest in a strong safety culture to ensure that people, property, and productivity are safeguarded. Set appropriate expectations – It is important that everyone understands their respective roles and what they are accountable for on the job. Organizations tend to leverage regulatory requirements to guide them in setting expectations, but it is equally important to clarify business priorities. A sure-fire way to improve safety in the workplace is to establish a culture where safety is prioritized over production. Are your workers encouraged to pause work for safety reasons? Do they feel pressured to deliver results rather than keeping safety at the forefront?  Build shared ownership – Everyone should know and own their safety responsibilities. A great way to enrich an organization’s safety culture is by fostering an environment that shares ownership of safety tasks. Taking this tack helps everyone to properly understand how their safety benchmarks meld with others to achieve optimal safety. In the spirit of transparency and collaboration, give workers an opportunity to raise and answer questions as a team. Do your workers spend time sharing their accountabilities and learning more about their peers’ safety responsibilities? Help them believe – More often than not, training is treated as a check-the-box requirement for safety compliance. Real impact training not only helps workers acquire insights and techniques to be safer, it cultivates knowledge, skills, and an attitude that leads to changed behaviors. Without that deeper understanding, employees and contractors may be tempted to bypass or reduce safety steps in the interest of productivity. Have your workers been adequately trained so that they believe in the importance of performing their designated safety controls? Right people, right skills – Workers need the right skills to perform their assigned tasks. Qualifications should be considered prior to delegating responsibilities to personnel. A level of thoughtful consideration is especially important as an individual’s level of accountability changes or increases. How are you ensuring that individuals have the right competence to perform required safety tasks? Make it easy to comply – Cumbersome compliance systems contribute to the complacency that can hurt a safety culture. If workers find permitting to be difficult, then they may seek ways to circumvent mandatory procedures. If workers cannot attend scheduled training due to conflicts with their schedule, then they may skip mandatory learning that is critical for safety. How are you ensuring compliance is simple and feasible for your workers? Part of performance review – Expectations, training, and compliance must be built into regular performance reviews. Supervisors need to purposefully observe and provide feedback to employees about strict adherence to safety policies and procedures. Those same managers must be rewarded and disciplined equally for meeting production AND safety benchmarks. Does your management and workforce receive feedback, rewards, and recognition for ensuring safe operations and compliance? Talk the talk – I once visited an organization that takes time during each meeting to share a safety example or misstep to underscore the relevancy of the company’s policies and procedures. Those weighing in during this discussion hailed from both the operations and business sides of the organization. Beyond having visual cues, such as signage in the workplace, teams should spend time talking about safety. Complacency is the biggest enemy of a safety culture. The more that teams discuss safety, the more likely it will be top of mind as they work. Do your workers have a channel to discuss safety issues regularly? Walk the walk – Take time to celebrate good safety practices and digest poorly executed plans. People learn from both good and bad examples so be sure to debrief incidents, inspect outcomes, and audit situations. Learning does not and should not end with training. Do your workers regularly celebrate successes and learn from mistakes? Encourage curiosity – Asking questions can often be frowned upon with some mistakenly perceiving curiosity as incompetence. Teach workers to know when it is appropriate to question if adequate safety controls are being applied, especially during moments of change management when occupations and usage could be in flux. Managers and workers should have access to internal and external experts for safety-related questions and should be encouraged to keep up with the latest safety practices outlined in codes, standards, and training.  Are your managers and workers encouraged to be curious and to build on their career capabilities? Build partnerships with AHJs – Many people treat audits and inspections as a threat and may withhold information for fear of receiving poor ratings. The truth is that auditors and inspectors are safety culture allies. Their insights help organizations improve safety outcomes, so it is essential for businesses to be honest and transparent during any kind of analysis. Are you leveraging audits and inspections to regularly assess and improve your safety program and culture? It is widely known that codes and standards provide the solid foundation for an organization’s safety infrastructure. For the benefit of business continuity and workplace culture, key managers and workers in an organization should: learn how codes and standards inform safety program policies, procedures, and best practices; believe that everyone plays a role in safety; and  be curious and critically assess potential hazards based on the latest information and training. Investing in an organization’s safety culture and the need for skilled labor are two critical components of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™.  In a nutshell, the Ecosystem shows us that safety is a system; the framework is being used around the world to facilitate important discussions in the workplace. Find out how NFPA can help your organization improve its safety culture through codes and standards, research, training, certifications, and membership

NFPA releases online learning and live virtual training covering NFPA 13, NFPA 72, solar, energy storage systems, and warehouse fire protection

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has added some new high-quality online learning and live virtual training solutions to its broad portfolio of educational resources to ensure that today’s workforce is incorporating critical codes and standards guidance into their job tasks. NFPA Online Learning solutions, which were developed with input from industry insights, feature expert videos, real-life scenarios, case studies, and 3D simulations so that learners can grasp key concepts, at their leisure, and enhance their workplace capabilities. NFPA Live Virtual Training features polling, chat, activities, exercises, videos, downloadable summaries, and job aids so students can locate, interpret, and apply code requirements. This online option allows expert instructors and students to engage with one another in real-time, from the setting of their choice. Click on the hyperlinks below for more details on program elements, length, CEUs (continuing education units), and more. 2022 edition of NFPA 72®, Fire Alarm and Signaling Code – Industry leaders helped to develop two training options that emphasize the most current safety provisions for fire detection, signaling, emergency communications, and mass notification systems, per NFPA 72, Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. The new online training series and live virtual training are ideally suited for those designing, reviewing, evaluating, or installing fire alarm systems. 2022 edition of NFPA 13, Standard for Installation of Sprinkler Systems – Designers, installers, engineers, contractors, technicians, project managers, fire marshals, insurers, and architects will benefit from new NFPA 13, Standard for Installation of Sprinkler Systems online training and live virtual training. To help ensure that sprinkler systems are safer and more efficient, the two options offer in-depth instruction on locating, interpreting, and applying critical code concepts and criteria. Photovoltaic and Energy Storage Systems – Given the popularity of clean energy innovation and incentives, now is a great time to learn about the safety considerations that go hand in hand with green alternatives. Online training helps professionals working with photovoltaic (PV) and Energy Storage Systems (ESS) to minimize fire, electrical, and life safety risks and the related casualty/property damage that can arise with these installations. Upon successful completion of this series, students will earn an NFPA digital badge. Warehouse and Retail Fire Protection –Demand for industrial real estate exceeded supply by 41 million square feet in the third quarter of 2021, the Wall Street Journal reported. Vacancy is the lowest it’s been since 2002. To help businesses keep safety in check in their burgeoning buildings, NFPA developed a comprehensive two-hour online training. Students will learn to identify potential dangers, mitigate risks, and reduce liabilities by considering various responsibilities, commodity classification, and sprinkler design and limitations. To learn more about the full array of NFPA training and education resources, visit Buybox:Title:Featured training|OLS1322SPR

New NFPA online training and certification resources designed to help those charged with water-based suppression system ITM

Properly maintained water-based fire protection systems are critical for building and life safety. It is equally important that practitioners take proactive, prescriptive steps to ensure that inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) of fire protection systems is done on a regular basis. That’s why NFPA has developed a new Water Based Inspection Testing and Maintenance (WBITM) Online Learning Path. The online training is designed to help sprinkler technicians, contractors, and others grasp the content in a new Water-Based Fire Protection Systems Inspection Testing and Maintenance (ITM) Certification Program. Both resources are ideally suited for those who are charged with independently managing the full spectrum of ITM duties. Online Learning Path The digital Learning Path provides certification candidates with flexible, self-paced studying options so they can better understand the current edition of NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems against the blueprint of the certification exam. NFPA offers a complete range of NFPA 25 and WBITM certification-related content with the flexibility for students to choose a single training module or put together a variety of modules to suit their skill set or career goals. Learning Paths feature interactive exercises, case studies, knowledge checks with ITM benchmarks, instructional videos on when and how to test water-based systems and includes access to exclusive online content and lessons developed by NFPA experts for a year. Modules cover the value of codes and standards and prepare aspiring professionals for credentialing. Each NFPA Learning Path has its own set of strategies for helping students understand the subject matter and includes a practice exam component as well as a final Capstone activity to test knowledge and core responsibilities. Certification Program Armed with the knowledge from the Learning Path, students can adeptly tackle the new Water Based Fire Protection Systems Inspection Testing and Maintenance Certification Program. The certification exam features online remote proctoring so that candidates can conveniently skill up on fire suppression systems from their home or office. Employers and clients consider certification a useful metric for gauging qualifications and making hiring decisions – especially during today’s robust job market. To earn the certification, candidates must have a minimum of five years of relevant work experience, obtain an attestation from a supervisor or employer, and pass the exam. In developing both new offerings, the certification and accreditation department at NFPA spoke with a variety of stakeholders, including international facilities management personnel and authorities having jurisdiction, about the difficulty of identifying qualified contractors who can competently perform necessary ITM tasks for water-based fire suppression systems. The result is a certification program that helps professionals demonstrate their aptitude so that facility managers and code enforcers can feel confident in their capabilities, and so that certification achievers can stand out among their peers in the industry.  Learn more about other NFPA Certification Programs and Online Training.

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