The 6 Pillars of Effective Safety Training

Safety programs within any business can only thrive when paired with proper safety training. In a number of cases, however, employers and safety managers may find themselves facing problems with compliance, acceptance, or comprehension of safety rules. In order to ensure that training information is effective and is retained, you can follow a six step system. With practice and implementation, the steps will come secondhand and enable you to easily circumvent training hurdles and keep your employees safe.

1 – Train Yourself, Make Sure it’s important

The first step in implementing any new training should be to wrap your head around it. If you yourself aren’t convinced that a new safety rule is important, it will show when you’re teaching others, and they aren’t likely to take it seriously either. Try to figure out, at its core, why what you’re going to teach is important and visualize how it could help you as an employee on the work floor. If you ultimately cannot get behind something, find out if it can be modified to better suit your business. If not, become a good actor for the purposes of your training sessions.

2 – Get creative to enhance boring bits

It really doesn’t matter if you’re doing a talk on dinosaurs or a safety lecture on how to use hand protection while sorting screws and nails, you’re going to hit some boring parts of your presentation. The unfortunate part is that, for the sake of safety, sometimes the most boring bits can be the most important. Try to think of how you might make the session more interesting in those areas. Maybe real-life examples using employee names and jobs are going to keep your room full of employees paying attention better than abstract or provided examples. Alternating between various media can also be a way to keep your presentation fresh throughout, using training videos (such as these training DVD’s), written slides, and even employee activities to teach.

3 – Require engagement and assessment

Speaking of “activities,” let’s take about engagement. Within any training sessions, you should try to spend at least a third of your time, more if possible, on interactive activities that engage your employees beyond just reading along with your slides. Role playing situations can seem cheesy, but it is a good way for certain safety points to stick in a worker’s head, as they are more likely to associate instructions associated with a previously performed action. Additionally, games that are built into training can double as team-building exercises. One of the best ways to engage employees near the end of a session is to quiz them on what they’ve learned. You can measure progress by giving the same test before and after a presentation to gauge how effective teaching methods were with regards to specific facts, figures, and actions taught in training. Depending on the type of training being administered, you can require employees to be “certified” in an area by achieving a certain score.

Anthony Geise provides a great example on how he engages his employees during a recent safety meeting:

A recent training session on fall protection to a group of startup engineers opened with a few PowerPoint slides that reviewed statistics and the pertinent OSHA regulations. The visual training was followed by discussions of the actual field conditions to be encountered and a group consensus of a preliminary safe plan of action. To complete the training, everyone had the opportunity to try on and properly adjust and fit their equipment and to go through a buddy check to ensure the equipment was fastened correctly. – The Barriers To Effective Safety Training: Finding Training Techniques that Bridge Generation Gaps

4 – Have post-session reviews

As any of your teachers could have you, the best way to study for a test is to review material regularly. In the same way, it is important that employee learning doesn’t stop as soon as the safety training session gets out. In fact, reviewing material the same day it is learned, within about 3-7 hours, can seriously aid retention. On training days, require employees to take an online test of the information when they get home in order to help solidify it. If employees don’t have access to PC’s or the internet from home, make sure you provide a station or alternate method for them to review at the end of the work day. Post-session reviews can also follow an employee in the months and even years after implementation, requiring them to check in from time to time and share their thoughts and/or progress.

5 – Don’t leave anyone out

A big part of getting people on board with new safety training is making sure that everyone is on the same page. Make sure that all employees are asked to contribute ideas to safety discussions and therefore can feel valued in making the safety rules a collaborative process. Also, if you need to schedule multiple training sessions, you should try to keep them close together so that the knowledge-base of your employees isn’t unequal for long – you can avoid attitudes of resistance by keeping everyone up to date in a timely fashion. These training sessions are also a great way to introduce the usage of new safety signs. Safety signs can help remind employees to exercise caution and to act safely in all work related endeavors.

6 – Ongoing Development and Feedback

Don’t let training and learning slip after your initial sessions. Studies have shown that it can take up 1-2 months of constantly repeating an action for it to become an automatic habit. For employees trying to focus on doing their jobs while at the same time following new safety practices, this can be quite a chore. Gently remind employees when new policies aren’t being followed and if there are consistent problems, consult them as to how they think you could shoot for a better outcome. Make changes as needed, but keep in mind the 1-2 month interim period so that you aren’t changing things too quickly before they have a chance to be properly tested. Additionally, have a system in place for employees to communicate concerns over new safety policies, this helps to keep criticism focused and helpful, rather than as counterproductive gossip among coworkers.

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