The Characteristics of an Effective EHS Trainer

May 17, 2012
In March, I wrote a blog post titled “ Who Needs This Training? (Hint: Not Everyone).” The article focused on the importance of providing safety training that is specific, relevant and concise. It also highlighted the importance of doing away with ...
In March, I wrote a blog post titled “ Who Needs This Training? (Hint: Not Everyone).” The article focused on the importance of providing safety training that is specific, relevant and concise. It also highlighted the importance of doing away with irrelevant and/or ineffective safety training programs and practices. I like to think of this as bull's-eye training to a targeted audience.

But after writing that blog post, I thought, "What about the trainer?" Ineffective trainers can ruin an otherwise effective safety program. In the same way many that employees have suffered through irrelevant and ineffective safety training classes, some also have suffered through training on relevant topics with irrelevant, ineffective trainers.

In considering this, I was reminded of how critical it is to utilize only the most professional, prepared and effective safety trainers. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), those who conduct training should have the following characteristics:

A thorough knowledge of the topics to be taught. Trainers should be subject matter experts. It is impossible to impart what you do not know.

A desire to teach. All the knowledge in the world does not automatically make an effective trainer; effective trainers have a desire to impart their knowledge to others.

A positive, helpful, cooperative attitude. As Winston Churchill said, attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. A positive, helpful and cooperative attitude can be the difference between a student learning and a student mentally checking out of a safety training class. A trainer who has the right attitude can mean the difference between life and death for the student.

Strong leadership abilities. The importance of leadership attributes in trainers cannot be overstated. Trainers must be able to guide a group of learners toward a pre-determined objective. Only strong leaders are able to do this.

A professional attitude and approach. According to the NSC, safety training programs should be developed with a five-phase approach: assessment (of need and current employee performance vs. desired employee performance); design; materials acquisition and/or development; delivery; and evaluation. When the training is approached and prepared appropriately, safety trainers can leave an indelible impact on students.

Exemplary behavior that sets a positive example. I live by the principle that everything counts, and I believe my behavior is a direct reflection of not only my personal attributes but also my professional attributes. Behavior that does not model professionalism is not only detrimental to the safety training program, but it also is detrimental to the overall safety and health program.

Trainers are the face of your safety training program. Choose wisely as the wrong choice may spell disaster for your training initiatives and possibly for your overall occupational health and safety program.

EHS Today guest blogger Jason Townsell, CSP, was named the 2010 Future Leader in EHS. He works for AECOM as a program safety manager at San Diego International Airport. The postings on this site represent the author's personal opinions and statements and do not represent or reflect the opinions, positions or strategies of AECOM Technology Corp. or its subsidiaries or affiliated entities.

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