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Safety Management Insights

Are You Making One of These 5 Safety Training Mistakes?

Posted by Don Brown on Jun 5, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Welding_trainingIn the rush to get new employees on the floor as quickly as possible, many companies speed through the training process without stopping to consider whether it actually works.

If you’re not effectively training your employees, you’re compromising their safety and putting your company at risk for costly fines.

Training mistakes often go unnoticed until a serious breakdown prompts a closer look at specific programs. This was the case for one fabric manufacturing facility in Totowa, N.J., which was recently fined $185,400 for violations that included a lack of training for employees who operate industrial trucks.

Here’s a look at some of the most common safety training mistakes.

Not Making Training Applicable to the Job

Think back to your first job. If your training took place in a windowless room filled with 30 other new employees, you probably don’t remember much about what you learned. After a week of actually doing the job, though, you probably felt like you could do it in your sleep.

Training should be as interactive as possible. According to renowned trainer John Whitmore, the best training occurs when participants are told, shown and experiencing at the same time. After three months, employees will recall on average only about 10 percent of what they were told, 32 percent of what they were told and shown and 65 percent of what they were told, shown and experienced.

Failing to Check for Understanding

Employees shouldn’t have to sit through a two-hour training session before they have the opportunity to ask questions. A good training program should be broken into multiple sections with assessment questions after each section is completed.

If employees are being trained on the site, they should observe first and then have the opportunity to perform the task themselves under supervision.

Not Reinforcing Material

Since up to 90 percent of spoken information is forgotten within 24 hours, it’s important to reinforce it with written materials employees can access anytime. Moving your training manuals to an integrated safety database makes it easier for employees to find information as it’s needed. You can upload and edit existing manuals or create new ones.  

With a safety database, you can also schedule employees for refresher courses to update them on training programs as needed. Procedures and best practices change, so even your most senior employees need occasional retraining. Use training modules that allow you to easily upload new information, and keep training records of all employees who complete them.

Not Explaining Why You Do Things a Certain Way

Training programs most often focus on telling employees how to do something without explaining why. When the goal of training is to keep employees safe, it’s critical for them to understand the importance of your policies and procedures. Lockout/tagout procedures are a good example of this; employees who don’t realize these procedures are in place for their own protection may rush through them, skipping steps that could lead to a fatal oversight.

Failing to Evaluate for Continuous Improvement

It’s important to ask employees for feedback right after training, while it’s still fresh in their minds. But it’s even more important to examine how well they perform the job months later, when some of the information may have faded.

Employee perceptions of their own performance aren’t always accurate, but the numbers don’t lie. Tracking specific incident rates before and after updating a program that’s designed to prevent them will tell you how well employees are getting the message.

The underlying factor in all training failures is a lack of effective communication with workers. Making important information more accessible to them is one solution.

The BasicSafe integrated safety software system allows employees throughout your site to access policies, procedures and training manuals so learning is ongoing. You can use the safety training module to manage scheduling and maintain records of employees who complete training programs. BasicSafe is designed to handle the administrative side of training so you can focus on educating your employees.

To learn more about our training tool and how it can be integrated with other safety processes, watch our training management video.

Training Managemet