The local news has not been good regarding workplace safety, lately. In September, a worker met a fatal accident while trying to free material from a baler. This led to an investigation by The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). In October, a couple of Denver parking agents crashed vehicles that were under their care.
The workers were both impaired when they caused the accidents. These are just a couple of examples of how things can go wrong on the job.
Safety training is important for all employees, whether they are working around machinery or walking to the office. Personal safety, workplace safety, health safety – what you learn in safety training sessions can save your life. The problem is, most people zone out during training meetings and miss the important lessons provided. How do you keep your team listening and engaged during safety training? By avoiding these ten things:
1. Dry subject matter:
It’s hard to pay attention to someone that just stands up and talks in a monotone for an hour. Make the training fun and interactive by using PowerPoint and/or visual aids.
2. Outdated material:
Don’t tell the same stories or statistics that you were quoting last year. Make sure your lecture material is fresh and relevant.
3. Not engaging the audience:
Interact with a question and answer period, ask the audience questions, or provide a quiz for them to fill out.
4. Not knowing your message:
Did you just scan your presentation materials and then decide to “wing it”? Lack of preparation shows and ensures the disinterest of your audience.
5. Lacking passion:
You have to sell your message of safety to the audience, and you can’t do that if you lack passion. Show that it’s important to you and they’ll understand why it needs to be important to them.
6. Not empowering your audience:
In order for your audience to take away something valuable from your safety training session, they have to feel empowered. Build a team of leaders that invest not only in their own safety, but the safety of those around them. Point out ways they can take charge of workplace safety. For example, insisting on proper safety signage and reporting on improper safety protocols.
7. Using passive language:
What sounds more impactful? “Failure to wear ear protection under these circumstances can possibly damage your hearing.” Or, “Failure to wear ear protection will damage your hearing by 15%”. Words like “can”, “may” and “possibly” are passive. If there is no doubt about the situation, use active words like “will” and back up those facts with statistics.
8. Not being relevant:
Know your audience and relate to them. Safety is not a generalized topic. Don’t sell the merits of forklift training to a group that would benefit more from safe driving procedures.
9. Not appointing a leader:
In addition to empowering your audience (see tip number six above), you want to single out and build a couple designated leaders among your audience. This does not necessarily mean hauling up two strapping young men and anointing them as the watchdogs for any unsafe behavior.
You can, however, strongly point out that there are one or two people in the room with the foresight to push for change and to ensure that others follow safety procedures. The leaders among them will rise to the challenge.
10. Not getting the right training:
You can’t train a group if you don’t know how to properly present a topic. You should have training, coaching or mentorship on how to speak to an audience in the most impactful way.
Of all the many things people talk to audiences about, safety is among the most important. Anyone involved in safety training should take care to avoid the pitfalls that turn their lecture from life saving to snooze inducing. We all win when the proper safety protocols are followed. Ensure the team you inspire remembers this by delivering a safety training that will stick with them long after you leave the room.
This article was written by Helen Philips, who has vast experience in writing on health and safety related topics.