Safety training can be a sizeable investment. It would make sense, then, for organizations to concern themselves with how effective their training is. But ask most safety managers and they will tell you that safety training is, by and large, forgotten by workers just a few weeks or months after it’s delivered.
Safety training and consultant Tim Page-Bottorff frames this issue as a choice: you can either help employees retain information or you can provide the time and resources to retrain them. Given the cost of training, he suggests that companies would benefit by focusing on the former rather than paying for the latter.
Tim outlines his argument in The Leader by providing examples of what it looks like when HazCom training goes wrong. He then suggests a number of ways that safety training of all types can be made more engaging and memorable.
One of the biggest challenges is overcoming initial resistance to training. It’s not always easy to get employee buy-in for safety initiatives but, once you do, workers are much more likely to pay attention to—and remember—training sessions. There are several other steps that safety trainers can take to improve the quality of their training, thereby increasing knowledge retention. Tim discusses how to minimize distraction, ask questions to full effect and use visuals.
Finally, the article discusses the power of active participation in boosting engagement with the training material. Tim provides a number of suggestions, and he also outlines a few post-training actions to reinforce key points from the lesson.
Following all these steps can take a great deal of work. Trainers should be spending a lot more time on their lesson plans than they do in teaching it. But the effort is worth it because it will mean getting the message across the first time and avoiding the need to repeat the training down the road.