Make Safety Training More Effective

April 16, 2010
Training is a critical part of workplace safety. It can help ensure employees are up to date on the latest safety practices, motivate employees to always work safely and bring new workers on board with the company’s safety practices and procedures.

If designed correctly, a safety training program can be the most useful tool in educating employees on workplace safety. The trick is taking the time to ensure that your safety program is effective. Many companies have a simple computer module that walks employees through the facility’s safety information, while others plan a half-day or daylong safety training session that all employees must attend.

Companies often assume that as long as all of the required and necessary information is shared, the training is a success. This isn’t true. Just because a company takes the time to give employees required safety information doesn’t mean the training was effective.

Consider these tips to develop an effective safety training program:

  1. Make it relevant. It is mandatory that companies cover all OSHA-required regulations during safety training. But it’s also important to cover all facility-specific safety practices, making the training relevant to specific jobs. Topics can include job-specific safety overviews, your facility’s accident statistics or the most common types of injuries in your workplace and how they can be prevented.
  2. Ensure understanding. Sometimes safety laws and regulations can be confusing. It’s your job to ensure the information covered in safety training is presented in a straight-forward and easy-to-comprehend way. One way you can do this is to create a top ten checklist of the most important things to remember about safety in your workplace. You can customize these to specific job categories or create a general one for your company. The list should be concise and easy to understand, serving as a quick reference for employees. Consider putting the list on tags or small note cards for portability.
  3. Get creative. Try using a variety of different tools in your training sessions to present information in a new way. Some tools include handbooks, DVDs and posters – all of which can be found in a safety training toolkit. Other options include bringing in and explaining safety signs, tags and labels that employees will see around the facility. You also can provide a map that indicates where certain practices should be followed, information can be found or safety equipment must be used.
  4. Train everyone. All employees, including managers, supervisors, full-time and part-time employees should be trained on your company’s workplace safety practices. This is important for a few reasons. By including everyone in safety training, you are showing employees that safety is important at all levels of the company. You are demonstrating that leadership not only supports workplace safety, but participates in it, as well. You are also creating a workplace in which every employee can ensure that other employees are working safe. If everyone is educated, everyone can be an advocate.
  5. Make training a continuous process. Training doesn’t end after the 1-day/1-hour session or presentation is complete. You need to continually observe and remind employees of safe workplace practices. Encourage employees to monitor others for safe practices. Provide guidelines that supervisors and employees can use for reporting and correcting hazards or a system for recognizing employees for exemplary safety practices. Finally, consider holding emergency preparedness drills to ensure employees know what is expected of them in the event of a crisis.

Christie Mendola is a safety training specialist for Emedco, a leading supplier of safety products, including safety training and HR compliance materials, safety reminder signs, certification cards and labels, electronic scoreboards and products for motivating employees.

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