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Blogging on how to use behavioural science to make behaviour more likely

Getting operators to take keys out of plant

April 18, 2018

2 min read: A dumper driver is expelled from site because he left the key in the ignition when he was not in attendance with the vehicle. So what can we assume from this behaviour? Did he get up that morning with the thought of deliberately breaking the rules. Did he think it would be fun to make it more likely that an unauthorised person would be able to take the dumper for a spin. Or was he simply used to doing the behaviour of leaving the key in the ignition; no malice, no deliberate act of misconduct, just simply a learned behaviour more than likely.

 

It’s probable that he will have done this before, perhaps for the last 5 years and not been picked up. It is a learned behaviour natural to this guy. 

The opposite behaviour, taking the key out of the ignition is not learned and must be ‘conditioned’ into the operator over many times for it to become the new norm. 

 

This conditioning of this new behaviour in the operator would be most successful if supported by his supervisor. But what would this look like? It would be best to start with a conversation with the operator. Something like this:

 

“Right, we need to get better at taking the keys out when we are not using the plant, at the moment it is most likely that you will leave it in and not remember to take it out. We’re going to work on helping you to remember to take it out, ok!?”

 

“What will help you remember to take it out? Have you got any ideas? What about when you unclip your seatbelt, how about you try pairing or linking it with that action?”

 

“When you look at the seat belt, you think ‘key’ and you take the key out.”

 

“Right, let’s go sit on the dumper and practice. Yep, that’s right, we’re going to practice taking the key out. Actually what we are doing is creating a new habit. Let’s go.”

 

And so, off they trot and practice. Dumper engine on, switch off, look at seat belt, take key out, take seat belt off. Repeat, over and over again. But, it’s most likely that people will still rely on shouting and disciplining to get a different behaviour to happen, why, because the above sounds slightly nerdy and pedantic, it takes a bit of vulnerability on the supervisor and operators part too. It takes a bit of time and effort, but, it works. If you can get past the awkward feeling of helping a fellow human.  

 

Or you could use a key tether attached to the operators belt if that is safe to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

bob@sodak.co.uk

 

 

 

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