2 min read

What can a mock trial teach your workers?

There are many ways to train your workers in their safety duties and assess their knowledge and competency. A novel approach is a mock trial. Much like you might run an incident simulation to see how your emergency response systems hold up, you might arrange a mock trial to assess your managers’ and workers’ understanding of their duty of care under safety legislation.

What is a mock trial?

The mock trial is a simulation of a court trial. You can undertake this process in relation to health and safety duties, basing the trial on a safety incident that could occur in your business. The managers and workers who are ‘witnesses’ in the proceedings can be subjected to questioning about their actual roles in the company’s incident response system. With this approach, managers and workers who participate in the session will feel what it is like to be challenged on how they could have done to better manage safety.

For example, in a mock trial with a construction focus, you could examine a case where an apprentice carpenter fell, suffering a serious injury, after assisting a crane operator to lift a load of joists and beams, despite this not being his job. In such a case, the mock trial would look broadly at what led to the situation where the apprentice acted in that manner and the incident itself, including the failures of others, e.g. managers not inducting the apprentice into the site or providing proper supervision.

Why does the mock trial work?

As with most competency training approaches, the mock trial is effective for several reasons:

  • participants are ‘involved’ in an incident to which they can relate;
  • the environment of a court room emphasises the significance of the consequences of the incident;
  • participants have to think about the issues and respond to questions that they would be asked by an inspector investigating the matter or by a prosecutor;
  • peer review from other managers and workers watching the drama allows for wide-ranging discussion of the consequences of a safety incident and what could be done better; and
  • the insight into how the court looks at safety is a real eye-opener for many managers.

A mock trial is a proactive (and usually enjoyable) way to ensure that your managers and other staff understand the reason why safety systems and processes are so important before a major incident occurs. In that way, your business is aiming to eliminate the prospect of a serious incident rather than simply being reactive.

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