Workplace Safety

4 Elements of Acceptable, Retainable, and Just Plain Effective Safety Training

Yesterday’s Advisor discussed the preparation phase of training, specifically what and whom to train. Today we present four elements that will make that training acceptable and retainable—in short, just plain effective.

These elements were reported on in our sister publication the OSHA Compliance Advisor (OCA).

  1. Motivation. Like a door, the mind has to be opened before any new information can enter. The key to getting it open, say our experts, is relevance. What you’re learning about has to be identifiable and important to you. Just as you’d more likely read a news story about your town than one on, say, some far-off island, your trainees will more readily accept information about their department, their equipment, their work process, and all of it discussed using their names. It pays to refer to all these familiarities early and often.
  2. Reinforcement. One tool for keeping that mental door open is the possibility of achievement. Turn your training session into a contest trainees can win. Issue small prizes or even call for applause for correct answers and you’ve moved the needle on reinforcement. Quizzes are a more formal way to do the same.
  3. Retention. Training is of little use if the information is forgotten. Make it more memorable by letting trainees try their new skills, either individually or through a surrogate chosen from the group. Other interactions, such as encouraging questions, increase engagement, too, as does providing handouts and other takeaways.
  4. Transference. This is educator-speak for putting new skills right to work, back on the job. Transference is enhanced by the immediate use of new skills … something you might want to arrange with area supervisors. Having them see what’s been learned in action will also make it more likely that the skills will be reinforced by these bosses.