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Monday, June 4, 2012

They Could See It Coming—A New Way of Doing Business, Reducing Training Injuries

A TSO observing Cannon Falls active shooter response training.

The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) is asking our public safety departments to begin using safety officers while they are engaged in active training. Training accidents account for 17% of our work comp injuries on the fire side and 20% on the police side.

The Loss Control team believes that a safety officer can maximize the control that exists in the training environment—and this concept can reduce training injuries. Key to the safety officer concept is the teamwork between the safety officer and the trainer.

The Basics
1.     Every active training session should have a specifically designated training safety officer (TSO).
2.     The safety officer should be designated well in advance of the training (i.e. avoid making the last person who shows up the safety officer).
3.     Prior to the training, the TSO should meet with the trainer and they should “game plan” the safety issues that may arise. Often trainers will remember from the last few years exactly when/where someone got hurt.
4.     This meeting could be supplement by the use of LMCIT’s “checklist”
5.     At the training, the TSO should provide a safety briefing to participants. The safety briefing should cover vital safety information such as the EMS plan, the required PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and safety issues specific to that training session.
A TSO watches New Prague police on the range.
6.     The TSO should be highly visible (as pictured, we used reflective vests).
7.     TSOs should avoid being involved in the training or helping out as a trainer. Their focus is preventing injuries. They need to see the big picture while the trainer concentrates on the details.
8.     Safety officers should have the authority to stop training, and should frequently confer with the main trainer and pass on their observations of the training session.

The police departments from Cannon Falls, Lino Lakes, and Woodbury volunteered to test the concept. Their officers took this framework, tailored it to their training, and found that it works. The TSO program is not about watering down training; it is about getting ahead of problems. 

After Action Review
1.     The safety officers had the “big picture” and monitored the whole session.
2.     The Safety Briefing set the tone for the day.
3.     The officers understood the role of the safety officers and were aware of their presence (the brightly colored vest didn’t hurt).
4.     The safety officers never stopped the training sessions—because they didn’t need to stop the training. As one safety officer said, “I could see it coming.”
5.     There were no injuries, no near misses, and no close calls.

The safety officers saw problems developing while they were in the initial stages (and prior to any injuries). Since they knew the lesson plan, they could spot “off-script behavior” early—and every time they informed the trainer, who got things back on track.

The Training Safety Officer (TSO) program was rolled out for police at the Loss Control Workshops around the state. If you were not able to attend, please call and I will get you the materials.

We have one fire department that has volunteered to be a test site for the fire side of this program. We are looking for a couple more volunteers. This really is just an expansion of what many of you are already doing—so please call or e-mail me if you are interested.

It is a new way of doing business, and it works!


Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next time…"It was not about the money" (wrapping the maintenance of equipment—like air packs, turn out gear, and ladders—back to the manufacturer).

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.

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