A safety training plan is only as successful as it is effective, and any safety trainer or instructor will tell you that not all safety training is the same.
Naturally, this begs the question –– what makes an effective safety training plan?
While everyone might have their own perceptions and ideas of the key components needed to carry out an effective safety training plan, you can pretty much count on the same critical aspects across the board.
Let’s take a look at the importance and key components of a safety training plan. Then, we’ll dive into the step you can take to create your own effective plan.
Not all workplace cultures nurture, nor fully understand the importance of effective safety training. EHS leaders and safety professionals know extensively, but the key to creating a culture that values safety is successfully communicating the “Why” and not just the “What.”
OSHA outlines the “Why” very effectively. In regards to the importance of safety training, OSHA drives a few prominent points.
Safety and Health Training
“Training is an essential component of an effective safety and health program. Training helps identify the safety and health responsibilities of both management and employees at the site. Training is often most effective when incorporated into other education or performance requirements and job practices. The complexity of training depends on the size and complexity of the worksite as well as the characteristics of the hazards and potential hazards at the site.”
In regards to employee training, OSHA emphasizes:
“Employee training programs should be designed to ensure that all employees understand and are aware of the hazards to which they may be exposed and the proper methods for avoiding such hazards.”
Additionally, OSHA emphasizes the importance of supervisor training and the necessary components:
“Supervisors should be trained to understand the key role they play in job site safety and to enable them to carry out their safety and health responsibilities effectively. Training programs for supervisors should include the following topics:
There’s a lot of speculation regarding the key components of an effective safety training plan, but OSHA outlines four key pillars in a helpful eBook that breaks down everything that they consider critical in having a “sound” workplace safety training program.
Training materials should be prepared by qualified individuals, updated as needed, and facilitated by appropriately qualified and experienced individuals employing appropriate training techniques and methods.
Training facilitators should have a general safety and health background or be a subject matter expert in a health or safety-related field. They should also have experience training adults or experience working with the target population.
Training programs must not only be accurate and believable, but they must also be clear and understandable to the participant. 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. Practical experience in the field of safety and health, as well as experience in training facilitation, contribute to a higher degree of facilitator credibility.
Additionally, training materials should be written in the language and grammar of the everyday speech of the participants. Training developers should ensure that readability and language choices match the intended audience. Therefore, if an employee does not speak or comprehend English, instruction must be provided in a language that the employee can understand. Similarly, if the employee’s vocabulary is limited or there is evidence of low literacy among participants, the training must account for this limitation.
Training programs should present information, ideas, and skills that participants see as directly useful in their working lives. Successful transfer of learning occurs when the participant can see how the information presented in a training session can be applied in the workplace.
Safety training aims to solve issues in workplace safety, but it’s not the answer to every problem. If an issue has to do with a lack of safety in employee performance, then safety training is an appropriate solution.
Safety training is most effective at addressing an employee’s lack of knowledge about proper procedures or equipment usage. Therefore, opt for targeted topics that give in-depth training for relevant job tasks. Sometimes, there may be more than one. Don’t cut corners, address every necessary topic needed to improve employee performance. This is where having an online safety training library will be your friend.
Think about your current safety training needs. Are they being met? What does an ideal safety training program look like and cover? How many employees should be trained, and how often? Once you answer questions about what the general safety training program should look like, you can begin to assess the topics that will be needed.
A proven method for determining training topics and the depth of knowledge they cover is to conduct a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). JHAs are processes that document each step of a job task to observe and identify potential safety risks along the way. This also allows organizations to prioritize training based on the degree of risk they possess.
As with anything, it helps to clearly outline an ideal outcome with critical objectives. Clarifying this vision allows you to more easily define the steps needed to achieve it. Plus, it provides a means to evaluate its effectiveness later on.
The National Safety Council states “training objectives should precisely spell out the desired skill or behavior using specific, action-oriented language. Detailed learning objectives allow employees and employers to understand the expected outcome of the training.”
Once outcomes and objectives have been clearly defined, instructors or managers can begin to create learning activities around those objectives. Not all of them will be the same, and usually learning activities will incorporate a few different mediums.
NSC states that “employers should consider which methods, materials, and resources will be needed to most effectively convey the message. The type of training chosen (group, one-to-one etc.) should be selected keeping the audience and specific skill set in mind.”
It’s time to take a look at the key features of a safety training program that is the least likely to be met with resistance. After all, upper management and other decision-makers have certain attributes for safety training programs they need as well, mostly in regards to “what’s the ROI?”
That said, you should look for safety training that’s:
This depends largely on the size and safety needs of your company, but most likely you’ll have to have record keeping, mandatory courses you need to be covered, and multiple employees doing different jobs that may need training on different days. Therefore, opt for training that takes a lot of the leg work out of the delivery and reporting.
It goes without saying that your training should be updated, not just with the content but with contemporary images, graphics, actors, etc. Often, online safety training libraries will update training courses as they're released, to ensure that even the old-timers at your organization see a training they’ve never seen before, with new, updated practices.
If you’re seeking budget space to update safety training, you’ll likely have to prove that it has an ROI. For instance, if you’re upgrading from a pile of DVDs to an efficient and more effective online safety training library, gather case studies, facts and figures, whitepapers, and more to help you build your case. It may also help to should how your current safety training method is wasting resources by not being effective, increasing liability instead of decreasing, etc.
Measuring the effectiveness of a safety training plan isn’t always easy, but it can be done. Typically, the success of a safety training plan can be measured by assessing three main objectives:
Engagement and participation with EHS training programs remain a challenge for safety training staff. In fact, in an Atlantic Training survey of over 600 safety training professionals, over 10% said that participation was one of the top challenges of their safety training efforts.
The main objective for administering safety training in the first place is that employees will retain the knowledge and integrate them into their daily work practices.
Safety training influences safety culture. A positive safety culture is a direct response to having an effective safety training strategy.
Common evaluation methods to assess the effectiveness of these three areas include::
Writing an effective safety training plan is a never-ending process that can continually be improved over time. After evaluating the effectiveness of the program, you can begin to take steps to take it to the next level.
NSC suggests revisiting these items:
OSHA outlines four key components of an effective safety training plan:
Writing an effective safety training plan that embodies these principles involves taking these steps:
Want to help in developing your safety training plan? Our training development reps at Atlantic Training can help you propel your safety culture in a much more positive direction through an effective training program. Contact us today to solidify your ideal training outcomes!