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Sustainable Training 101

By: Stuart Webster (swebster@wrapcompliance.org) and Russ Jowell (rjowell@wrapcompliance.org)
Aug 20

Sustainability. One might say that this has become one of the hottest buzzwords of the 21st century. But like so many other buzzwords in centuries before it, the word sustainability often gets thrown around ad-hoc by people not sure of its meaning. It seems that every day, we hear reports in the news that a company is “working to become more sustainable” or that a certain government has adopted a “sustainability policy.” I don’t think that anyone would argue the merits of either a company or a municipality adopting sustainable practices, but it is important to define what sustainability is and how it does, and does not, apply to real life.

Complicating matters is the fact that there are so many definitions of sustainability to be found that reading them all is in itself not a sustainable process. With this in mind, we at WRAP have adapted one definition that we believe fits quite nicely. We believe that sustainability is having the ability to do something in such a way that will enable future generations to keep doing it in the same way. To illustrate this further, we’re going to look at WRAP’s training programs and examine how they embody this definition quite well.

There’s a famous adage that says “if you give a man a fish you’ll feed him for a day. If you teach him to catch a fish you feed him for life.” Here at WRAP, we believe in teaching our students to fish instead of simply giving them fish. Our training courses are aimed at giving attendees workable and sustainable solutions in all the different areas we cover, so that they can execute them in their own facilities independently. This empowers them with the knowledge, as far as is possible, to be in charge of their own destiny.  

How does this work in reality?

Below is a visual depiction of how WRAP tries to achieve sustainability within our 3-phase Fire Safety Training.

As you can see in the diagram, the foundation of this process is an intensive, day-long training session for managers and supervisors that gives them a thorough understanding of fire safety theory and practical techniques. Yes, this phase does cover fundamental topics like evacuation drills and fire extinguisher operation. But perhaps more significantly, the main focus of the course is showing these managers how to prevent fires from happening in their facilities in the first place. We use the internationally-renowned 5-Step Risk Assessment Process in this regard. It includes the following steps:

  1. Identify Fire Hazards
  2. Identify People at Risk
  3. Evaluate, Remove, Reduce, and Protect from Risk
  4. Record, Plan, Inform, Instruct, and Train
  5. Review

If this process is applied correctly, the risk of fire in any facility should be minimized greatly. For more information on the 5-Step Risk Assessment Process, read our blog titled “Highly Effective, Highly Affordable Fire Safety.

After the successful completion of Phase 1, the managers and supervisors return to their respective facilities to execute Phase 2, or what we like to call “Champions Training.” Throughout history, champions have been sources of inspiration and leadership for others, and this instance is no exception. The second phase of this training process invovles the managers equipping these “champions” with the knowledge and abilities to become the “eyes and ears” of all things related to fire safety within the facility. They are trained on how to minimize risks in their specific areas of the factory and, if need be, how to handle emergency situations. The bottom line here is that these people are ones that the others can look up to.

Which leads us to Phase 3, Worker Training. The champions get further instruction on how to transfer the basic awareness of fire safety to all employees in the facility. They are taught how to effectively instruct their fellow workers about the role they play in minimizing fire risk and what actions to take should a fire occur.

Upon completion of the third phase, the facility will have a “sustainable process” in place which is owned by them and that can replicated over and over again for all future workers.

The importance of fire safety in garment factories cannot be understated. News of several horrific tragedies in Bangladesh and beyond emphasises why it is so crucial to educate people at all levels in the industry about this crucial topic, and why sustainable training processes are essential to this effort.

 Click here for more information about our Fire Safety Training course.

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