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Reinvent Your Safety Training Program With These Tips

July 30, 2020 David Wylie

Most of us have attended our share of conferences billed as “The can’t-miss training and networking event for FILL IN THE BLANK professionals.” These experiences offer powerful opportunities to learn from industry experts and peers. But we don’t reap the full benefits if we hit the snooze button on professional development the rest of the year. The same principle applies to risk management training.

Your in-service program will likely look different this year because of the pandemic. Whether you choose an in-person format, virtual format, or a combination, we hope workplace safety earns a spot on your agenda. Follow these tips to ensure your employees take the lessons they learn into classrooms, cafeterias, gymnasiums, and band halls every day.

Remember the basics

It wasn’t long ago that if you had a trainer, a team, and a box of donuts, you had the makings of an old-fashioned “Tailgate Safety Talk.” The pandemic is forcing us to rethink not only how we work but also how we train employees. If you host onsite training, enforce basic safety measures:

  • Practice social distancing.
  • If employees cannot maintain six feet of separation indoors, hold meetings outside or by telephone, or break crews into smaller groups.
  • Avoid community food like pizza, donuts, and buffets.
  • Don’t pass a sign-in sheet around. Take photos to document attendance, or have the supervisor sign everyone in.

Leverage virtual training

Virtual training provides a safe alternative for communicating safety procedures during the pandemic. In addition to live and on-demand webinars, Fund Liability, Property, Auto, and Workers’ Compensation pool members benefit from online courses at no cost.

Our online training package includes six compliance courses and up to 20 additional courses based on your coverage lines. You can also upload your own material for a comprehensive training experience. To learn how to take advantage of member-exclusive online training, watch this recorded webinar.

Choose the right topics

Educational organizations have a lot on their plate during a normal back-to-school season. Very little about this season is normal. So, how do you know where to focus your limited training time?

Get general and specific. Training should include topics that apply across the organization, as well as job-specific topics. General training, often delivered during new-employee orientation, typically includes topics such as the safety handbook and emergency procedures. Job-specific topics address the equipment employees will use and the unique risks they will face.  

Dig into data. Examine vehicle collision records, accident investigation forms, post-training quiz scores, and your Fund loss history reports to zero in on risks that need attention. If you are a Fund member, contact your risk solutions consultant for help retrieving your reports and interpreting the data.

Consult your employees. They know the hazards of their jobs better than anyone. You can elevate employee engagement by discussing actual incidents. For example, an employee who recently suffered a slip injury can share the circumstances and explain how he or she could have prevented the accident.

Tap into seasonal risks. Some risks ramp up as seasons change. The Fund’s blog is a repository for information on seasonal risks such as heat illness, time changes, pests, and summer maintenance projects. We also offer a series of blog posts that share best practices for controlling COVID-19 risks.

Get personal

Sales professionals – at least the good ones - are experts at concisely explaining how customers benefit from their product or service. Safety trainers can follow their lead by making safety personal. Explain how workplace injuries impact not only the organization’s budget but also employees’ quality of life. At Fort Bend ISD, leadership shared their motivation for working safely as part of a districtwide campaign. Spoiler alert: The desire to stay well for their families was a common theme.

Deliver information in bite-size chunks

Training doesn’t have to be an “event” that comes with logistical headaches and budgetary commitments. The custodial crew can surely carve out 10 minutes in the morning to talk about safely disinfecting your facilities. Similarly, the maintenance team might benefit from a short, post-lunch discussion on how to use personal protective equipment. Fund Safety Kits empower our members to deliver focused training on real hazards their employees face, in as few as 15 minutes.

Tell, show, do

Apps, virtual reality, and other high-tech tools are revolutionizing employee training. Still, one of the most effective strategies relies on a time-tested formula:

  1. Tell the group what you want them to know. For example, explain that because the organization has suffered a rash of back injuries, you are going to teach them how to protect themselves. 
  2. Show employees what you want them to take away from the session by demonstrating the steps to a safe lift.
  3. Do means giving the group hands-on experience with the task. Let them practice once or twice to be sure they understand.

During the first few weeks, pair new employees with experienced peers who can ensure the training stuck. Ease off on observing new employees until you reach the usual level of supervision.

Invite guest trainers

Sometimes, training resonates stronger when it is delivered by someone other than the risk manager, supervisor, or a human resources representative. Invite your local EMS, fire department, and law enforcement to serve as guest trainers. Eanes ISD leverages students’ expertise to keep its training program engaging. As part of Teen CERT, Westlake High School students train their peers and district staff in life-saving skills such as CPR and Stop the Bleed.

Partner with vendors

Your vendors might also make good guest trainers. When you purchase equipment, try to include no-cost safety training in the contract. For example, a Fund member invited their chain saw supplier to lead safety training for the grounds crew. Our team joined the session and taught tree-trimming safety basics.

Maintain training records

Records help you identify employee training gaps and prove compliance with training requirements. Every training session should include documentation that makes it easy to find out, at minimum, who presented, who attended, and which topics were covered. You should also keep post-training quizzes on file and maintain records for at least five years.

Reach out to our experts

The Fund is here to help our members establish safety as a priority that never gets compromised. Fund members who need guidance creating a safety training program or improving an existing program should contact your risk solutions consultant.

Tagged: "employee safety", "workplace safety"