Blanchester Area Chamber of Commerce
Blanchester, OH 45107
Raising The Bar for Safety
Conducting Effective Ongoing Safety Training

Gary W. Hanson, President of
American Safety and Health Management Consultants, Inc.

One of the areas that I see that companies have difficulty with in managing their safety programs, is setting aside time for regular safety meetings and having individuals that are comfortable conducting the meetings. In many cases the meetings are not held separately. When the meetings are held, I often note that the safety information is simply passed out for the employees to read. There is not a lot of time for discussion or feedback. In talking to supervisors they advise me that in many cases they have not been through a training class on how to conduct an Effective Safety Training Meeting.

Holding Effective Safety Training Meetings does not have to be complicated or overly difficult. They need however, to be more than simply passing out required information in an effort to prod employees to be more careful. Remember, your meetings should be designed to help achieve the company's Safety Training Objective. The Safety Training Objective should be designed to develop the proper attitudes toward safety and if necessary to change or modify the employee's safety behavior. This will not happen if the employee perceives the meeting as a waste of time.

It is important to remember that safety is not a natural part of our behavior and therefore, many employees do not see a real need for it. Employees must be sold on the need and importance of safety. This can be done if the instructor has a positive approach and is enthusiastic about the subject. Also, the training classes should be held at regular intervals, covering subjects related to the employee's work activities. Employees need to believe in your safety program and these meetings, if done right, can go a long way in creating this belief.

In setting up your safety training program the following should be kept in mind:
" Who will be doing the training and what the individual's level of expertise and enthusiasm is?
" How often will the meetings be held?
" Where will this meeting be held, is the area adequate to hold the employees and provide a comfortable meeting location?
" What are the best times during the day to hold these meetings?

The individual selected to conduct the training should have good communication skills and feel at ease in front of a group. He/she should understand the basic steps to proper training techniques. He/she should read the topics in advance and note the key points that should be covered. The number of key points should be limited to no more than five if possible. A list of two or three supporting comments or questions should be prepared for each key point. Start the session with a story or examples to highlight the importance of the topic being discussed.
It is important to get the employees involved as much as possible. Do not read the material in a monotone voice, this is a sure way to put all of the employees to sleep. Start by advising the employees of the subject to be covered and then use the story or example to highlight the importance of the subject. Cover each of the key points one by one. Put each of the supporting comments that have been outlined earlier into a question format. Use these to get the employees involved in a discussion of the topic. Give all of the employees an opportunity to participate in the discussion. Cover each key point thoroughly in this manner. Close the meeting with a recap of the key points. Ask the employee if they have any other comments or final questions.

The area where the training is conducted and the time of day can be important to the trainer's skill and knowledge of the subject. Try to have the training meeting conducted in a quiet comfortable environment. Distractions should be eliminated. Pagers, radios and cell phones should be turned off. The temperature should be maintained as comfortable as possible. Seating adequate for the number of employees to be trained, should be provided. If a quiz is to be given, ensure all employees have a pen and something to write on. Try to avoid training classes late in the day, especially on Fridays. Classes early in the shift are usually more effective. My experience has shown that training classes right after the first break seem to work well. Also, do not drag the meeting on too long. If the class is for refresher training, try to limit the class to fifteen to twenty minutes only.

After the training has been completed, the employees should sign off on a Safety Training Sign-Off Form. This is required for any of the OSHA mandated training. The form should contain the trainer's name and signature, the date of the training and the subject of the meeting. The outline of the topic should be attached or outlined on the training sign-off form. Each employee in attendance should sign in a legible manner. The training sign-off form should be placed in a training file that can be retrieved if necessary.

To recap quickly:
" Have an individual who is enthusiastic and feels comfortable conducting the training classes.
" Have a prepared topic that the trainer receives in advance.
" Note the key points.
" Use a story or example to highlight the importance of the topic.
" Get employees involved by using a question/answer format.
" Provide a suitable location for the training.
" Conduct the training when employees are most alert and fresh.
" Always fill out the training sign-off form and file in a convenient place.

If you have any safety concerns or need any assistance, please call American Safety and Health Management Consultants, Inc., at 1-800-356-1274.