Occupational Health And Safety Training: Turning Uhhhs Into Ohhhs

Occupational Health And Safety Training: Turning Uhhhs Into Ohhhs
Summary: How to make the mandatory Health and Safety training sessions more interesting? In this article I will share some key tips to turn those uhhs into excited ohhhs!

4 Tips To Make Health And Safety Training More Engaging 

Running training on Health and Safety? Here are some things to think about...

A regular feature of corporate training programs is an awareness training to employees on Health and Safety act. In Ontario, this is Occupational Health and Safety Act.

It is, unfortunately, a drab topic. People sit through the mandatory training as if it were a punishment. It is quite a challenge to bring in enthusiasm and excitement, or even some form of involvement in a training that rants about acts, laws, and possible jail terms for those not following these acts and laws.

On a side note, one of my theories is that the moment a training is made mandatory, we lose audience’s interest. There is a sense of resentment in the learners that is hard to overcome.

Nonetheless, not all is lost for Health and Safety trainers. Here are some lessons I’ve learnt along the way that will make Health and Safety training more interesting and engaging and I’d like to share with you today:

1. Make it relevant.

Consider your audience and make the topic relevant to them. If you are speaking to warehouse workers, talk about forklift safety. To office workers, cite examples about repetitive stress injury. If you are addressing shop floor employees in a chemical plant; well, there is no dearth of examples there. If a particular scenario does not happen in my world, then it has no relevance for me. People are moved by situations and events they can relate to. And when people relate, that is when they learn the best.

2. Make use of invested partners.

In an ideal world, everyone is equally invested in their own safety, and that of the safety of their surroundings. In the real world, some of us are more safety-aware than others, and these people are your partners. Employees who are first aid certified or are fire captains are one example of staff members that are invested and understand the gravity of the topic. Employees that sit on your organization’s Health and Safety committees are your best friends indeed: They can be leveraged as subject matter experts. The great thing about using such resources is their credibility among other workers. Since they are “one of them”, and not an external trainer, their inputs and observations are way more authentic than yours. And this is a valuable tool in training.

3. Use a good mix of media.

Video clips of common workplace accidents can be horrific, but can be used aptly to impress the importance of the topic. I like the commercials by WSIB; find them on YouTube:

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Another good option is to have your leaners complete an online Health and Safety training course prior to attending a live in-class session. This ensures a basic level of knowledge among the class, and saves you from taking them through boring, legal stuff. You can rather use the time to discuss real-life scenarios and case studies that will resonate more with the audience, Here is an online training course freely made available by Ontario Ministry of Labor.

4. Use numbers strategically.

Numbers have a “real” quality to them; it is impossible to argue with cold, hard facts. However, be careful when employing numbers to make your case. It is important that the numbers speak to the audience, and make the issue seem real, not unreal. For example, instead of saying we have 60 fatalities each year, say roughly 1 person dies at work each week. This hits home way closer. Another example may be to make use of previous convictions under the law. How many supervisors were fined and/or jailed is not as provoking a statistic as saying that 1 supervisor in such-and-such company was fined $65,000 and 1 year in jail. Numbers like these can raise even the most reluctant learners from their seat and make them sit up and take notice.

Other training best practices, such as making a session interactive, using activities etc., usually work well with Health and Safety training too. However, there is a completely different angle to the Health and Safety issues: Somber and cautioning; because of the nature of the topic.

Not every training can be, or needs to be, fun. However, the end goal of all training stays the same: To make sure learners take back with them something more than what they came in with.