How to Improve Your Safety Training Talks 

Two commonly held misconceptions among workers that impede the effectiveness of safety training talks are “It won’t happen to me” and “I already know this stuff”. Those underlying beliefs are both misguided and potentially dangerous. 

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), An estimated 1.8 million workers sustained work-related injuries and were treated in emergency departments during 2020. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports 4,764 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States during that same time. 

Unfortunately, statistics alone do not have much impact on workplace safety habits, so it’s up to employers – typically, HR departments – to plan and provide effective safety and compliance training.

Diverse team of engineers with laptop and tablet discussing safety training at manufacturing plant.

How to Improve Your Safety Training Talks

Besides giving workers frequent verbal and visual reminders about the importance of workplace safety, brief monthly meetings can be used to discuss personal protection equipment (PPE), safety procedures, and OSHA requirements. 

Safety training talks should also bring up risky work practices and conditions that were actually observed by supervisors, safety inspectors, and coworkers. A job hazard analysis can also be performed to pinpoint specific risk factors that need to be addressed. Adopting a “continuous improvement” attitude toward safety issues, rather than a finger-pointing approach, can help keep safety training talks positive rather than judgmental. 

The overriding message to get across to employees is that safety is a top priority that needs to be taken seriously. That’s why it’s important for presenters – whether a supervisor or foreman – to be aware of the example they set through their actions, words, and non-verbal communication. Regardless of how informative a safety presentation may be, if it’s delivered in a lethargic or disinterested way, workers will not pay attention or take it seriously. 

An article in the New York Times explains why: “Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer researcher of body language in the 1950s, found that the total impact of a message is about 7% verbal (words only) and 38% vocal (including tone of voice, inflection, and other sounds) and 55% nonverbal.” What that boils down to is that the way information is presented has much more impact on listeners than the actual words that are spoken.

As an example, if a trainer approaches safety training talks with a “Let’s get this over with” attitude, then workers will tune out the message and dismiss the information. 

A similar turn-off for employees is when the safety talk consists of someone reading aloud from a list of safety rules, hazard warnings, or statistical reports. Unless safety training talks are personalized, planned, and presented with conviction, these vital messages will fall on deaf ears. 

Another way to improve safety talks is by keeping distractions to a minimum. While it sometimes may be challenging to find the ideal environment for a safety discussion, a busy, noisy work site is not conducive to holding workers’ attention. If that’s the only option – which occasionally may happen – then supplementing on-site talks with easy-to-read printed handouts will help focus attention on crucial instructions and safety notices. 

Email alerts sent out the day before and text message reminders from supervisors are other methods of raising awareness about safety procedures, equipment, and precautions. Video conferencing and the use of video tutorials can also be an effective way of sharing crucial safety information.

Safety Training Tips 

The primary thing to bear in mind when presenting safety training talks is to keep them brief, relevant, and interactive. Visual demonstrations, the use of props, video tutorials, and employee participation can help keep the safety talk relatable and interesting. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that training programs be accurate, credible, clear, and practical. The federal agency notes that, “If the material is only understandable to someone with a college education or someone who understands the jargon, then the program falls short of meeting workers’ needs.” 

Regarding training material, an OSHA publication reminds trainers to make sure readability and language choices match the intended audience. It also emphasizes the value of repetition in safety training talks: “Adults learn best when new information is reinforced and repeated. They need time to master new knowledge, skills, and attitudes.”

The OSHA training manual highlights the following adult education principles, which tie in with the idea of making training talks participatory and interactive:

  • Adults learn best when they have time to interact with both the instructor and each other
  • Training is more engaging, memorable, and meaningful when workers are encouraged to share personal experiences and lessons learned

Active involvement, rather than passive training methods, can help ensure that employees are paying attention to, thinking about, and retaining potentially life-saving and injury-preventing information.

How KnowledgeCity Can Help

A great way to add variety and relevant content to your safety training sessions is by using video tutorials. KnowledgeCity offers a wide range of safety training videos designed to raise awareness, help teams comply with government regulations, and provide specific guidelines for avoiding injuries, sickness, and on-the-job accidents. 

Our safety video courses address vital topics such as indoor air quality, eye protection, and loading-dock safety. We can also provide workers with video instruction on managing fatigue in the workplace, power tool safety, and first aid for industrial environments. 

Many more job-specific and industry-specific tutorials are available, including fire prevention in healthcare facilities, laboratory safety, and strategies for preventing slips, trips, and falls. As an additional benefit, our Learning Management System makes it easy to organize records and document training compliance.

Browse our full selection of occupational safety training videos to find the courses that match your needs. We also encourage you to contact us for a free demo of our state-of-the-art eLearning system. You’ll receive trial access (with no obligation) to our 25,000 online training videos. 

Our user-friendly “micro-learning” video format enables employees to view tutorials at their convenience. It also helps improve knowledge retention, engagement, and learning efficiency. All video courses are easily accessible, whether your staff works remotely or in the office. 

For safety training tips that apply to a remote team or workforce, check out KnowledgeCity’s Complete Guide to Safety Training for Remote Employees.

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