Strategy is key to effective safety training

June 6, 2019 By     0 Comments

The statement I hear a lot when it comes to safety training is that it takes too long and costs too much. The time invested in the actual training is not the only cost. When you include the wages, lost production, sales and travel expenses of an employee, the cost can total thousands of dollars.

Photo: iStock.com/noipornpan

Creating an effective safety training procedure can save money and enhance productivity. Photo: iStock.com/noipornpan

Another major issue many employers face is not having a strategic focus to their training programs. Companies don’t train employees in the skills most critical to them or identify what areas of development have been mastered or need further attention. This leads to spending valuable training time on areas that employees already understand and then spending too little time on areas where employees are weak.

Often, programs fall short of being interesting and useful. Interesting training enriches employees’ lives, energizes them and ideally makes them more loyal to the company. Useful training offers practical skills that are critical to tasks being performed in the next six months, not the next three years, and allows for further educational development. Otherwise, skills are soon forgotten, and employees do not form safe work habits.

So how do you fix these problems?

Plan first – For training to have real value, it must first have a clear strategy and execution plan. The strategy should clearly articulate three to five core skills and competencies and three to five key activities that will make execution possible. The training should then focus on these skills and competencies.

Real life experience – To avoid training that is mind-numbing or useless, make sure the trainers or developers of programs have actually worked in the industry. Be sure to engage with a trainer or program before committing, and ensure the sessions make the topic look and sound simple and are focused on action.

Plan for sprints, not a marathon – Some training programs get derailed by providing training in painfully boring marathon sessions. Many programs and trainers encourage long sessions because these fit better into an overall program or a trainer’s travel schedule. Resist the pressure of accepting a “one size fits all” program. Instead, try offering shorter programs on several subjects that incorporate different job types, which may provide more training options to all employees while still addressing the needs of a trainer’s schedule.

The most effective training is done in short bites. Programs should be a series of sprints – train, implement, train, implement – until what is learned becomes habit. Small doses of learning should be followed by a series of quizzes based on open-ended questions to enhance retention and encourage creative thinking.

Road-test the training – During the implementation and repetition phase, give employees access to tools they can use to practice what they’ve learned. Tools are the bridge between theory and actual knowledge. Today, the use of virtual reality training provides an opportunity to explore particular hazardous activities before employees actually have to perform them.

Spend less, not more – Successful training doesn’t require millions of dollars. Using more effective methods will reduce the cost of training. Organizations do, however, need to commit time to implementation, repetition and assessment of what has been learned for several months after the initial training session. Otherwise, employees won’t retain the training and may require retraining.

Training without implementation is just an intellectual journey, and most of us would rather go to the movies or read a great book than spend time in an ineffective training class. At the end of the day, the important question to ask is: Will the training change the way we do things around here?

The benefit of effective training is having a workforce that is more safety conscious, and it also creates an environment where daily actions help to protect the lives and property of co-workers, customers and the employees.

It all starts with a good safety training strategy, executed through effective training programs, which include knowledge and on-the-job training functions.


Randy Warner is the owner of Warner C3H8 Consulting LLC.

NOTE: The opinions and viewpoints expressed herein are solely the author’s and should in no way be interpreted as those of LP Gas magazine or any of its staff members.

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