by Gary Glader
Horton Group is an IMA B2B Partner
Safety training is one of the pillars of an effective safety and risk management program. Unfortunately, many employers approach the subject with just one thing in mind – OSHA compliance.
If we want employees to take the information presented seriously, we must do what we can to keep them engaged to assure the message is communicated effectively.
Additionally, many people’s greatest fear in life is public speaking. Some people have said they’d rather be tortured than stand in front of a group of people and speak. This article isn’t about overcoming this fear, but there are many ways to cope with the self-inflicted terror associated with public speaking.
The following are some important points to consider as you prepare to provide safety training to employees of your company:
Know the Material:
Know as much as you can about the subject material. Prepare, research, and get to know the material. You will quickly lose credibility if you don’t. Safety dinosaurs like me will tell you how the internet has changed the profession by making otherwise obscure information available to everyone.
Prepare the Presentation:
If you have a pre-prepared presentation, great. But if not, use PowerPoint or other presentation software wisely. In most cases, less is more. Slides filled top to bottom with words are why books like Death by PowerPoint are so popular. Use images and videos as many workers are visual learners.
Know What You Don’t Know:
Say what? I tell every newly hired safety consultant that it’s more important to know what you don’t know that what you do know. I won the business of a very large client when their previous safety consultant guessed, incorrectly, at a question posed by the CEO in front of 200 supervisors. Politely respond, “I don’t know, but I’ll get you the answer” before embarrassing yourself.
Find the Right Place:
You might think this is ridiculous with no need to mention, but hold the training in a comfortable space. In my career, I taught an OSHA 10 hour inside of a cold warehouse, with no chairs, and an air compressor cycling frequently enough I had to stop speaking for minutes until it cycled off. Make sure the environment is conducive to learning.
Provide instruction in the manner in which you would like to be instructed. If you don’t have passion or interest in the subject you are presenting, neither will your audience.
Engage Your Audience:
Learning improves when you engage your audience. Communication involves more than just one party. Stand when presenting and occasionally approach your audience physically and with questions. Encourage questions and participation and eliminate as many distractions as possible.
Use Stories and Examples:
Fortunately, many accidents and injuries are a rare occurrence. Your audience may not appreciate the importance and personal nature of the material you are presenting, so using stories or examples of workers who have been hurt on the job can bring it home. Better yet if the example and story come from your workplace.
Tests can identify if your instruction was effective, and which students may need additional training. Testing need not be extensive and complicated. True/false questions covering the main points of the presentation are adequate. OSHA implies comprehension testing in a number of its standards.
Presentations can be fun to deliver once you’ve overcome your fear of public speaking. Nothing is more satisfying than a participant approaching you at break or the end of the session thanking you for providing the information. Use humor and real-life examples to engage your audience to an even greater extent.
Safety training is more than just the material presented. The fact the company is willing to take the time and effort to train employees shows its commitment. It communicates the importance of safety to the organization. Rushing through a training subject and telling employees to get back to work will zero out any positive that might have been associated with the effort. Properly executed, safety training is one of the best ways to build a culture of safety. How are you handling your training responsibilities?
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