Mining Publication: Tell Me a Story: Using Narrative to Teach Safety to Skilled Blue-Collar Workers
Miners, like many skilled blue-collar workers, are not traditional learners. They have not generally been successful in classroom-type settings, preferring to learn on the job in a hands-on environment. U.S. miners are required to have annual safety training, but they rarely view this positively. In fact, it has been called "safety jail" by many of them, who regard it as a time to get a little extra sleep. The challenge then, was to find a way to develop effective safety training for these people, particularly in view of the fact that their work is among the most dangerous of all occupations.
Miners are born story tellers. They share "near-miss" stories, stories about master miners they have known, and stories about how things used to be. These stories not only pass along information about what will happen if a miner fails to respect the mining environment, they also instruct listeners in the culture of mining and the values it embraces. Stories, it seems, are a way to get safety messages to miners, especially inexperienced ones, and using older, wiser miners in these stories is an obvious choice. This paper will discuss how the training videos created to get safety messages to miners were developed, how "master miners" and story lines were chosen, and how the resulting videos have been received in the mining industry.