Planning mandatory workplace safety training is tough. Although the information presented to employees is extremely important, it is oftentimes technical and dry. However, with a little effort, employers can transform safety training sessions into lively events that everyone will learn from and even enjoy. Focusing on the content of the message and the manner in which presenters communicate the information is the key to success.
Presenting useful content is the primary objective for any workplace safety training event. Employers must aim to provide employees with information and resources that will help protect themselves and each other, as well as the company’s facility and the materials located within it. In choosing the content for safety training, companies should consider these ideas:
1. Customize the Information
While presenters may need to rely on some generic information or prepackaged materials on occasion, custom tailoring the content to the nature of the company’s business and its employees’ job duties should be the standard. For example, if employees in your company operate heavy machinery, topics related to that deserve attention. However, if you run a professional office, safety tips about equipment operation will fall on deaf ears. Further, consider past onsite accidents, injuries, near misses, and detected unsafe conditions when planning your content. The realities of your workplace will provide the most relevant inspiration for educating the staff.
2. Stay Up to Date
Conducting safety training with obsolete information and materials is inexcusable. Not only will employees lose interest if the information appears dated, it also puts everyone at risk. The problems and solutions involved in workplace safety are constantly evolving. Prevailing standards may change from one year to the next. Therefore, it’s imperative that you remain informed so you can properly educate your employees.
3. Keep a Sharp Focus
Packing information about a variety of topics into a single safety training session is overwhelming. Instead, focus each session on a specific topic so your audience can really concentrate and absorb the information. Your employees will thank you for that.
4. Tour the Facility
Regardless of whether you conduct business in a large warehouse or a small office, training events provide a great opportunity to walk around the premises with the staff and focus on safety issues. During such a tour, remind employees where you store important safety materials, such as first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). That is also the perfect time to review emergency evacuation procedures. In addition, encourage employees during this time to carefully observe their surroundings and report any potentially dangerous conditions. Those observations can serve as discussion topics for small group break-out sessions.
Manner of Presenting Information
Regardless of how knowledgeable your presenter is or how important your content is, if your speaker presents the information in a boring way, the audience will tune out. These tips will help prevent your training session from turning into a long-winded snooze-fest:
1. Avoid Lectures
No one enjoys sitting through lengthy speeches, so avoid monotone lectures. You owe it to your employees to make the presentation as lively as possible.
2. Encourage Interaction
Instead of a lecture, get the audience involved. The ideal safety training event will involve engaged employees participating in group discussions. After all, if they are talking about the issues, they will certainly pay attention and are more likely to retain the information. If employees are not participating in the conversation, introduce games or live demonstrations. Those strategies will keep the audience alert and engrossed in the topic.
3. Embrace Technology
Using videos, the internet, power point, and other technological resources can also make boring information seem more interesting. Also, don’t rely on one mode of communicating the information. Instead, vary your presentations by using different media platforms.
4. Keep it Short
By focusing on fewer, specific topics, safety training sessions can remain brief. Employees will appreciate your consideration of their time, and they’re less likely to get tired or overwhelmed. Companies that schedule more frequent, but shorter safety meetings typically receive more positive feedback from employees.
While the general tone of safety training events should remain serious, it can still be fun. Adding humor here and there will help keep the audience’s attention.
About the Author: Jay Acker leads a group of producers who create OSHA safety manuals and other training materials for business customers. They make training kits, courseware and safety posters at www.safetyservicescompany.com.