Trail Safe Lesson 1 - Introduction

Ice Age National Scenic Trail


Hello and welcome to Trail Safe. This series of self-study power-point presentations was designed specifically for you, the National parks Service trail volunteer. Now, ideally we would all gather together for a full two-day training session called Operational leadership. Some of your fellow trail volunteers have already taken the Operational Leadership with the National Park Service. So you may have heard something about it. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Operational Leadership is a training tool that's used by the NPS which focuses on human factors as part of an overall comprehensive safety program beyond the standard safety policies and practices that many us already use and are familiar with. In other words, NPS Operational Leadership adds a behavioral component to the safety program and explains what goes into our decision making processes. Understanding human behavior is key to helping adults make better safety decisions in real-time environments. Operational Leadership does not replace our existing occupational and safety and health program for the trail, it enhances it by helping us understand human limitations. Completion of Operational leadership training is mandatory for all National Park Service employees. Unfortunately our volunteer work force is so large with so many of you dedicated and hard-working volunteers spread out over hundreds of miles of trail route, our ability to gather everybody together for a full two days of training is very limited. But, regardless of that circumstance, your safety is paramount to the National Park Service. So, therefore we've developed this series of power-point presentations called Trail Safe! And what the Trail Safe does for us still provides us the core objectives about Operational Leadership in a format most convenient and accessible to you. While completion of viewing this entire Trail Safe series is not a true substitute for Operational leadership training, it will provide you with most of the important core objectives in understanding human behavior and how it applies to our collective safe working environment. So whether you view these trail Safe series by yourself or maybe in a group with other trail volunteers in your chapter or your other trail building group. Please watch them in order. It's important that you view them number one, number two, and so on. Because each lesson builds upon the next, and it makes the entire thing more understandable and valuable to you. Ok, you ready to start? Let's take a look at Lesson #1 of TrailSafe. This slide shows a variety of National Park Service employees who work in all sorts of job series, and all types of terrain and climates, and with all sorts of tools and equipment, some very similar to the volunteer work you do on the trail. Can anyone guess what all these people have in common? The sad fact is, they all came to work one day to do the same job they always had done, just as you do on the trail, but they didn't survive. Of the more than 130 Federal Agencies, the National Park Service consistently has one of the highest injury and fatality rates among its employee and volunteer work force. In the 25 year time-frame between 1990 and 2015, the National park Service experienced 85 on duty or in the line of duty deaths. From the years 2005 to 2010, more than 3,800 employees and volunteers were hurt badly enough to miss one or more days of work. Annually, the National Park Service is charged approximately $20 million in Worker's Compensation costs. Consider also the intangible costs. The effects these injuries and fatalities have on our families, our co-workers, and our friends. Why should working for the National Park Service as a government employee or a volunteer, including a trail volunteer, be so dangerous? It shouldn't be, but history tells us it has been up until now, and that is what we are going to explore in this Trail Safe series. The role and impact that human behavior plays in risk assessment and decision making. Let's not let these images be our legacy. Let's take a look at what years of fatal accident investigations show us. You might be very surprised to learn the results of these findings. Regardless of what organization we're talking about, including the National Park Service, in almost every on-duty fatality accident investigation you will find one or more of the following. The organization has an Active Safety Program in place. For the National park Service, including the trail you volunteer on, it's called NPS Occupational Safety and health program, reference manual #50 B. The organization has formal risk management processes in place. Those would be things like the job hazard analysis tools we use on the trails, or the morning safety briefings or tailgate safety briefings we conduct before setting off on our daily trail work. It is often the very experienced person involved in the fatal mishap. So why, if we have an active safety program, with formal risk management processes in place, do we still have so many injuries and fatalities, even among our most experienced workers? Well, because it almost always comes down to individual responsibility. Individual decisions made just prior to the accident are really all that seem to matter. Not what you plan for inn a conference room. "It rarely matters what we tell an adult to do, it only matters what that person perceives the situation to be at that final moment when they make a decision, their personal assessment of risk, the probability of success, and the consequence of failure." In other words, the decisions people make are often based on what's worked for them in the past, not necessarily what they've been told to do. We can have all the safety programs and plans in the world. We can demand that risk management practices be developed and followed. We can purchase PPE for all the trail volunteers everywhere and have it available in every job that comes along and none of it makes a bit of difference because at the very end it's going to come down to the human factor and how effective any of it's going to be. The principles of this TrailSafe series will assist us in better understanding our human decision making processes and the various ways we as individuals relate to the world around us. With the goal of improving operational performance and safety out in the field. Whenever we're out on the trail, or in some cases even indoors doing trail-related activities, we can find ourselves operating in hazardous environments, with rapidly changing conditions, with physical and mental demands, and sometimes with significant threats. One aspect of safety is called risk management. Simply put, risk management aspires to increase job or project success, while reducing risk to an acceptable level. TrailsSafe will help us increase our awareness and knowledge of risk management. When considering risk management decisions, keep in mind the acronym, A, L, R, P. Always reduce risk to as low as reasonably practical. How do we accomplish that? Well, we do that by accepting no unnecessary risk, making risk decisions at the appropriate level, accepting risks only when the benefits outweigh the costs, and incorporating Operation Risk Management into all levels of planning. So let's think about a scenario where people would have to weigh the benefits of risk versus the cost or possible consequence. Let's imagine you're walking down the street and you come across a burning building and there's people inside screaming for help. Now you have to make a decision about what you're going to do at that exact moment. You have to weigh the cost of the consequences versus the benefits. Risk versus gain. So what would you do? Call 911 and wait for help to come? Do you rush inside and try to save the people on your own? Not everybody is going to decide the same thing because it depends on a variety of factors for each individual person. But what about a less dramatic scenario. Let's talk about something that's more common to something we run across. Let's imagine we're out on the trail, and we come across a stream. And it's winter time, and it's cold, and we have to cross that stream, at least we think we do. So what do we do? Are we going to cross the stream or not? Again, we have to do risk management decision. Risk versus gain and make a decision about what our course of action going to be. So we have to start asking ourselves all the different factors that come into that decision-making process. How wide is the stream? How easy is it going to be to get from one side to the other? How deep is the water there? How cold is it in the air outside if we do happen to fall in? How far our we away from our car and the safety of a heater? How soon before it's going to be dark? How inconvenient for us is it to go home, get some chest waiters and a friend and come back tomorrow? Those are all things we have to consider, and the answers you all have will be a numerous of all those looking at this. Because it's going to be a little bit different for each person. But the process of the risk versus gain, the decision-making process, is still going to be the same for everybody. So always remember the A, L, R, P. Get your risk down as low as reasonably possible. A review of National Park Service workplace accidents show a high percentage associated with what we call human error. The majority of human error-caused accidents are due to: poor judgement, inattention, or in effective supervision. Will look more closely at these through each of our TrailSafe lessons. The upcoming power-point lessons in this TrailSafe series will cover these critical principles: effective leadership, error and accident causation, mission analysis, stress and performance, situational awareness, decision making, and communication and assertiveness. Right now it's important for us to understand that all employees, including you the volunteer, have responsibilities while carrying out the work of the trail. The four responsibilities which we all equally share are: setting clear and practical standards. Can you think of a time when you felt unsure of how to proceed because standards were absent or unclear, or in some case just impractical? Training to accomplish the standards. How many of you feel that you should have received training, or more sufficient training, in order to accomplish the work being asked of you? Enforcing the standards. Has any ever been part of a work group, either on the trail, or throughout your personal lives, where a standard existed that wasn't enforced? What was the outcome of that situation? Did it damage the effectiveness of the groups ability to perform? Or the morale of the group members? Following the standards. We can all think of a time when we deviated from a required standard or procedure even though such a standard existed, and we were trained to follow that standard. Think about why that happened. We'll cover all these points throughout our upcoming TrailSafe lessons. The four shared areas of responsibility we just looked at are critical in understanding how and why an accident or injury has happened. And where we need to focus our efforts to correct that problem. So let's take a moment to go over once again each of those shared responsibilities, looking at them on a flow chart in order to find the appropriate corrective action if we have a problem anywhere along the way. And please understand when we attempt to identify the causes of accidents and injuries, it's not to point fingers, it's not to lay blame. It's necessary in order to correct the safety deficiency so that we don't keep experiencing the same problems over and over again. We want to learn from our mistakes and experiences in order to improve the safety environment for all of us. So, to take a closer look at our first shared responsibility, clear and practical standards, we follow the flow chart. If we have an accident or injury, we first ask ourselves are there clear and practical standards in place that cover this situation? If the answer is no, then we see that we have a systems failure related to management of the trail at some level. If this is a first time problem, the corrective action is then for management to set an appropriate standard. If this type of accident or injury is re-accruing, and we still don't have a clear set of standards in place, then a more thorough review is needed to get t the root cause of the management failure. If we experience an accident or injury, and we determine that we do indeed have clear and practical standards in place, then we must look to our next shared responsibility which is training. Was the volunteer trained in a satisfactory way to accomplish the task? If the answer is no, then we again have a systems failure, which is the responsibility of management. If this is a first-time occurrence, management needs to add a training program to cover this volunteer task. If the lack of training has contributed to more than one accident or injury over time, we again must get to the root problem by reviewing our entire training program. But, if we find the injured volunteer did have satisfactory training, our chart tells us to look to the third shared responsibility, which is enforcement of standards. Does management enforce all standards equally? And when we say management, remember, we're talking about any level of management or supervisor, including a volunteer work leader out on a trail. Management isn't restricted to just the National Park Service or the staff of your volunteer trail association. It may even be you. So a systems failure in enforcing standards equally for everyone requires corrective action by counseling the supervisors on the need to enforce standards. If this is a recurring problem, disciplinary action can also come into play. But if we are enforcing the standards, then our flow chart brings us to the final shared responsibility in seeking a cause in the injury or accident, which would be following the standards. Did the volunteer do what they're supposed to do? If the answer is yes, then we didn't have any accidents or injury. But if the answer is no, the person did not do what they were supposed to do, even though there were standards in place, they had received any necessary training, and standards have been enforced properly by management, then we need to analyze the behavior of that person using the principles of Operational Leadership and the TrailSafe program so that we can figure out what the root cause was and help that person to understand and what led to their accident or injury so that we don't have a repeat problem and possible greater consequences in the form of a more serious injury or even a possible fatality. We've come to the end of lesson 1 of TrailSafe. All the things we've looked at so far are just some general background overview of things about the tenants of risk management in the National Park Service. The next series of TrailSafe lessons will go into greater detail on each of these things we've briefly touched on so far. You're now ready to review lesson two of TrailSafe, which is going to talk about the first of our seven critical principles of effective leadership. Thank you for participating.


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