Reinvent Your Workplace Safety Training Program
Most of us have attended a conference billed as “The can’t-miss training and networking event for FILL IN THE BLANK professionals.” These experiences offer 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 workplace safety training.
Training is a core element of strong accident prevention plans that help reduce the costs associated with on-the-job injuries. Follow these tips to ensure your employees take the lessons they learn into classrooms, cafeterias, gymnasiums, and band halls every day.
Choose the Right Topics
You have a lot on their plate during the academic year. So, how do you know where to focus your workplace safety training efforts?
Get general and specific. Training should include workplace safety topics that apply across the organization, as well as job-specific topics. Schools often cover general topics such as the accident prevention plan and emergency procedures during new-employee orientation. 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.
Talk to your team. 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.
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.
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 Training Toolkits empower our members to deliver focused training on real hazards their employees face, in as few as 15 minutes (login required).
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:
- Tell the group what you want them to know. For example, explain that because the organization has suffered a rash of back injuries, you’re going to teach them how to protect themselves.
- Show employees what you want them to take away from the session by demonstrating the steps to a safe lift.
- Do means giving the group hands-on experience with the task. Let them practice once or twice to be sure they understand.
During their first few weeks on the job, 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 risk managers or supervisors. Invite your local EMS, fire department, and law enforcement to serve as guest trainers. Eanes ISD recruited guest trainers from inside its ranks. As part of Teen CERT, Westlake High School students trained 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.
Leverage Safety Training Online
Well trained employees are your strongest defense against risk. Employee empowerment also happens to be a core element of positive workplace safety culture. If you make employee training a permanent part of your accident prevention plan, your team will be better prepared to protect themselves and their co-workers.
We encourage Fund members to take advantage of on-demand training at no additional cost. Our workplace safety training package includes courses such as bloodborne pathogen compliance, chemical spills, and working safely with students who have special needs.
Editor's note: This article was initially published in July 2020. We updated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
David Wylie serves as content developer on the risk solutions team. He brings more than 20 years' experience writing educational content that helps employers protect against workplace accidents, property damage, cybercrime, and other losses.