Training doesn’t have to be a nightmare!

Some time ago I read a book on occupational safety where it was brought out that employees wait for mandatory training about as enthusiastically as going to the dentist, whereas they should compare it to Christmas. Superficial and dull occupational health and safety related training can thus result in a work-related accident or an occupational disease. The reason for that is simple- trainings are undertaken just in order to get it done without worrying about whether or not the employee actually remembered anything. Statistics prove that lousy training is one of the main causes for work-related accidents.

Here we’ll share a couple of ideas on how to be better and more effective in training.

So how does one instruct better?

  • Take your time! Take some serious time for training. Plan ahead so that you don’t have to run to another meeting right away. Nobody remembers information given in a hurry. How should one do this? Train an employee and make a note about the time spent. Then, make sure you always have the same amount of time for future training.
  • Pick 5 ideas! Think what you’re about to tell an employee. We all know it is not reasonable to read them long safety instructions, because they can only remember a fraction of what they hear from you – so choose your words. Make sure to get to the essentials and repeat the most important parts.
  • Get rid of distractions! Make sure your trainings (introduction as well as a part of the primary training) happen in a working environment free from distractions – employees walking by, noise, heat etc. Your goal is to have the listeners pay attention to you alone and feel comfortable. People are capable of learning more things when they feel good. Offer them coffee, water, biscuits etc. before training begins.
  • Discuss with the employee! Make sure the training takes the form of discussion. Discuss with the person about his or her previous experiences regarding occupational safety and then tell them how things are organized in your enterprise. Obviously, you must use leading questions in order to avoid several hours of discussion.
  • Tell them stories! People like to listen to interesting and funny stories. Pick an important part of training and illustrate it with a story. That way the main points are better remembered. Illustrating stories may involve working accidents or positive experiences in your own working environment. Practical life captivates people’s interest. Nobody wants to listen to a succession of rules.
  • Compose good safety instructions! Make sure you would like to be trained by the same instructions. ’Short’, ’visual’ and ’compact’ are the keywords here.

How to save time training?

  • Think about what you are saying! Don’t try to walk through every single point in the instructions. Think what you would like to say to a new or experienced employee. Focus on what is most important.
  • Be prepared! Have a risk analysis, the safety instructions and a prefilled training form with you. You will save a lot of time if you have all the documents with you that you are about to present to the employee – you’ll get the main risk factors in a working environment to the employee from the risk analysis and principles to avoid adverse health effects of these risks from the safety instructions. Write the names of the instructions that you are using on the training form. You can download training forms from our website. You’ll find them under services – free forms.
  • Have a plan! Write out the points that you are going to talk about and how you’ll structure your training. For examples: Introduction – I’ll talk about who is responsible for occupational safety in our enterprise (for example depending on the size of the enterprise either a representative or a council of working environment), how the first aid is organized, what we do to prevent accidents and occupational diseases, how to act in dangerous situations or when an accident has happened. That way you’ll know that you have spoken about everything without forgetting an important point.
  • Power-point! Make a presentation with your training. Bring out the most important points, pictures of the enterprise, of work-related accidents etc. That way you’ll be sure not to get off the subject and you’ll be able to cover all the points in a reasonable amount of time.
  • First training must be given by a competent employee! First training is valuable so it has to be given by an employee who really knows the working process and safe working methods. A competent employee is usually someone who has to deal with the same tasks that he or she is teaching others to do. An employee who knows the working methods and processes and the safety principles involved can train a new employee in safety questions. A working environment specialist may not know all the working operations of an enterprise so it is not always reasonable, from the point of view of the quality of training, for that specialist to give first training.
  • Long-term mentoring! Direct the new employee to study from an experienced employee. That way you can focus on the essential. In first training you will be able to talk about five basic principles whereas the rest will be learned from the mentor in time. With mentoring you ensure that experienced employees also have to rethink all that has to do with safety. Thus, your enterprise becomes knowledgeable in occupational safety.

How to make sure something is remembered?

  • Make it interesting! By making sure the training is interesting (discuss, tell stories), you increase the chances of something being remembered.
  • Gripping safety guide! Compose safety instructions that are enthralling – short, concrete, with pictures of your working environment.
  • Supplementary training and briefings! If possible, organize supplementary training sessions to all employees at least once a year. Safety-related knowledge sticks better if repeated constantly. I am quite sure that organizing supplementary training and briefings is a lot cheaper than dealing with a work-related accident or an occupational disease. Include your suppliers as well. For example, you can invite a supplier of personal protective equipment to train your employees on „How to properly use and maintain personal protective equipment“. For the most part, these trainings are free.
  • Use visual material! Use visual material in your working environment. We at Riskianalüüs OÜ have developed a number of fun occupational safety related posters you can hang in your working environment. Curious? Ask us for more details!
  • Ask for feedback! After training you can ask the trainees what they remembered and how they are going to implement it.
    First training in the workplace!
  • Make sure to have the first training take place at the exact spot where the employee is going to work. That way, it is easier for him or her to see and experience in practice what they saw in training. We also advise you to show them places where previous work-related accidents have taken place. That way they are more aware of the dangers and they’ll try to avoid the same mistakes.

We hope you found this reading useful and that you can make your training more captivating for your employees.