Most business owners know that they have a legal and ethical responsibility to provide a safe workplace for their employees.
Unfortunately, when it comes to delivering training to those workers about how they can manage their safe workplace and what they should do in certain situations, there are plenty of pitfalls that can undermine even the best intentions.
I recently delivered a full day of training in the Kootenays, a beautiful part of British Columbia. At the end of the training session (back to back sessions starting with Workplace Violence Prevention, and after lunch was followed by Respectful Conduct in the Workplace), a participant came up to me, held up her evaluation sheet (which she had just completed), and read this comment that she had written:

“Absolutely an excellent course Phil. Completely kept me engaged and attentive. I actually dreaded spending 8 hours in a classroom, but you made it an amazing experience. Awesome instruction and facilitation.”

I was flattered by her compliment, but I also knew it was my responsibility and job to provide engaging and effective training sessions.
So, when you are considering delivering safety training (which is designed to enhance your team’s understanding of safety– not put them to sleep), ask yourself these six critical questions:

  1. Would this be viewed as a flavor of the month?

You can almost hear employees’ eyes rolling when the boss quotes an Occupational Health & Safety regulation that mandates the business to provide safety training. Safety training should never be viewed as a ‘CYA’ or a ‘tick-in-the-box’ type of experience. It is designed to be part of your organizational Safety Management System (SMS) and should be a continuing conversation focused on maintaining a safe place to come to work

  1. Will management be there?

Worse than bosses espousing too many shiny new fads, is when the leaders themselves don’t participate in training.  In fact, there’s a word for managers who expect their staff to attend training while they remain in their offices– it’s called hypocrisy and it sends a mixed message that undermines employee buy-in.

  1. What if some employees miss out?

If you have turnover challenges or other circumstances in which not everyone can attend a training session, you’d be forced to bring in trainers quite often– That’s simply not efficient. Instead, work with trainers who have additional methods of delivering the information. Several of our clients have employees who are based all over the place and they are interested in delivering the material to these remote teams via on-line learning. We invested in our ability to deliver our training programs through our LMS (Learning Management System) provider, which is used by some clients to train additional current and future staff at a fraction of the cost.

  1. Is there reinforcement?

One-shot seminars and workshops have value and they are certainly better than nothing, but what happens afterwards? As with being introduced to any new skill or information, there needs to be ongoing reinforcement. An ideal situation is to work with a training company with the depth of resources to offer coaching tools beyond the seminar that will keep the message fresh.

  1. Will it be relevant?

Managers tell me that when it comes to training, they haven’t got time for interesting. After all, interesting is everywhere on the Internet. What they need are information and tools that are relevant. Some topics are more applicable to enhancing safety than others. Listening to an adventurer or professional athlete talk about their careers may be entertaining, but realistically it has little relevance to real jobs that deal with satisfying internal and external customers. What engages participants is choosing a trainer who specializes in workplace and employee safety and understands their specific workplace.

  1. Will it engage my team?

This time the fault lies not with the message, but with the messenger. You’ve likely had the misery of being imprisoned in a meeting room listening to a monotone presenter assault you with PowerPoint punishment. Conversely, there are some trainers who know how to enthral, entertain, and engage. They skillfully customize their training to make it resonate for that particular team.
So then the question becomes: Who are the best safety trainers to use?
Here are a few suggestions:

  • Anyone can pay for a flashy website and present themselves as a trainer– But, that’s no guarantee of quality.
  • To ensure your trainer is as good as their website, ask your colleagues who they’d recommend.
  • Then, see if the trainer has written anything about workplace safety to indicate they’re a thought leader on the topic (after all, effective and lasting impact from training begins by shifting people’s thinking).
  • Then, check if they have any speaking or training credentials and give that trainer a call to get the wheels in motion.
  • Trust them with your employees and start reaping the rewards of a team who will start to look at their workplace through a safety lens and, hopefully, behave accordingly.

You have a responsibility as an owner to provide a safe workplace.
But your employees also have a responsibility: to behave and conduct themselves in a safe manner.
Selecting the right trainer will move you closer to that becoming a reality…

I would like to thank my fellow CAPS member Jeff Mowatt for the initial inspiration for this post.