NOT in Safety Training, Please!
“After reading this, I urge you to ask yourself the most important question for safety instructors: How can I make this material interesting and useable? If you consistently do this, then you are on the right track.
”The drones are coming! Experts tell us that by next year they will be filling the skies with cameras and products, and the world will be a better place.
I hope the experts are wrong about one thing related to drones. I hope safety instructors who drone on and on while sharing bland PowerPoint presentations are NOT part of the growing number of drones taking over the world.
I’ve been involved in safety training as a student and as an instructor for over 35 years, and most of the training I see today doesn’t measure up. We buy expensive, canned presentations and videos that are pretty laughable to real workers. But, because they are so expensive, we show them year after year. Sure, they meet the letter of the law. But do they engage employees and drop the accident rate? Do they represent the actual work employees are doing? Do your students collectively sigh when you turn on the DVD? Or do they suddenly get an urgent phone call from the boss and have to leave?
I’m pretty sure that the days of an instructor showing PowerPoint slides and droning on for hours on end should be a thing of the past. But instead, it just won’t go away.
Video presentations are equally as bad, and seldom really match the crowd that is being trained.
Safety instructors have got to do better if we expect employees to listen and then actually make changes in their work habits. If we don’t improve our teaching, we are to blame for not sharing knowledge needed to save employees’ lives.
The workforce has changed dramatically over the past 5 years. Everyone has a smartphone or a laptop within reach. Information is at their fingertips — so why pay attention to the same old video showing a guy in a hard hat and safety glasses droning on about how not to get hurt on the job? It’s slow, and it’s boring.
What Works Today
Don’t get me wrong. Those videos worked well for many years and helped prevent lots of accidents. But the world is a different place now, and safety instructors must change with the times. In other words, you better become an entertainer and know what you are talking about because you will be challenged on both your information and your style.
Recently I presented brilliantly on the topic of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). At the end of the session, someone asked a question related to parts per million. But, before I could look up the answer in my printed material the student had the answer on his smartphone. It was a minor thing but it made me take note.
On the drive home, I wondered if I was in the right business and equipped for today’s “smart” world. In an instant, I decided to make a change.
In my next presentation, I did not drone on about parts per million. Instead, I challenged my students to look it up on their phones and laptops. I gave $5 to the first correct answer. This change got them involved, and stimulated a decent conversation about the topic. Sure, it was a small change but one that worked. (And it was well worth the 5 bucks!)
After reading this, I urge you to ask yourself the most important question for safety instructors: How can I make this material interesting and useable? If you consistently do this, then you are on the right track.
Of course, that means you’ll be refreshing your presentations, and rethinking what you know and how you present it to your students. But, that’s good work to do.
Consider employing a few of these tactics:
• Use social media.
• Find short videos of folks doing things the wrong way.
• Tap people in your organization that are doing safety the right way.
• Get out of the office and into the field to learn what employees REALLY need.
• Take pictures and videos in the field.
• Use humor.