April 2015

Effective Training Steps

Is your training effective? 
Does your training result in an increase in employees' understanding of specific workplace hazards and safer work practices?

Effective training relates directly to the work being done by employee and provides practical and specific information about hazards and how to perform work safely. In general, effective training:

  • Communicates information in a language and by methods understandable to all employees
  • Helps establish a relationship with employees to improve trust and communication
  • Is participatory and involves employees by drawing on their own real life experiences
  • Allows group hazard identification and problem solving by means of demonstrations, asking questions, discussing ideas, and providing observations and stories 
  • Provides opportunities to demonstrate newly learned safe work practices and the safe use of tools, equipment, and chemicals
  • Provides concrete safety and health changes in how work is set-up and performed
  • Is repeated as often as necessary
1. Identify

To identify the training topics required so employees can perform their job in a safe and effective manner:

  • Review Your Written Records such as:
  • OSHA log 300 records all work-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses that require more than first aid treatment (see 
  • worker reports or complaints,
  • workers' compensation reports
  • job safety/hazard analysis

Your workers' compensation insurance carrier may offer risk-management services that can provide workplace assessment surveys.

  • Review the Cal/OSHA list of Safety and Health Training and Instruction Requirements to see which topics apply to your workplace.
  • Look for Clues - carefully observe your workplace and employees' work activities to evaluate specific hazards and potential improvements for each hazard. Look for:
  • Unsafe conditions, work practices or behaviors (which may indicate initial training has not been done or re-training is necessary)
  • Problems in production lines
  • Worker fatigue, discomfort, injuries, or reports of related problems
  • Workers modifying tools, equipment, or work stations on their own
  • Increases in absenteeism, worker turnover rates, or customer complaints
  • Decreases in product or service quality or employee morale
  • Increases in error rates, rejects or wasted materials
  • Malfunctioning equipment
  • Missed deadlines dead lines
  • Accidents and near misses
  • New equipment, processes, chemicals, and work practices which require training
  • Get Input from Employees - talk to employees, supervisors, and managers about problems they have encountered. Get their ideas for altering work processes, operations, tools, or equipment. Ask them how they would make their jobs safer and more efficient.
2. Goals

Do your goals and objectives for the training clearly identify what you want the employees to learn and be able to do as a result of the training?

Goals and objectives should be specific, realistic, measurable, and limited in scope (you should plan how long the training will take to accomplish your goals and objectives). A few selected examples of training goals may include:

OBJECTIVE:
Employees will recognize the symptoms of Heat Illness and be able to use our company’s procedures to immediately report the symptoms.

OBJECTIVE:
Employees will learn how to use respirators to protect themselves from workplace exposures and how to care for the respirators.

3. Plan

For training to be effective, it must communicate information in a language and by methods all employees understand. Trainers should be knowledgeable in the subject matter and treat employees respectfully.

Training is valuable to adults when it applies directly to them in their jobs. When planning training, remember that adults have experience and are practically motivated. Encourage employees to share their experience and knowledge as it applies to the training topics. Show employees how the training will help them reach their personal goals for greater safety, professional advancement, a promotion to supervisor, etc. At the end of the training, plan enough time for questions, discussion, and checking for understanding. This will help reinforce what has been learned and provide you with feedback to improve future trainings.

The "lesson plan" is the organization of the material and learning activities based on your goals and objectives for the training. Your "lesson plan" should include:

  • Topics you choose to cover (to accomplish your goals and objectives)
  • Goals and objectives
  • Training techniques you will use 
  • Training aids you will use
  • Length of the training to accomplish your goals and objectives
  • Have employees reinforce 
4. Conduct

To get started with the training you can use "Ice-breakers" and other activities to help employees feel comfortable and want to participate. Maintain eye contact with employees. If you do not know the employees take time to "meet" them by briefly finding out who they are. You can ask questions like:

  • What background do they have?
  • What type of work do they do?
  • How much do they know about the topic(s) to be covered?
  • What are their needs and expectations from the training?
  • Do they like what are they doing? Why or why not?
  • What would they do to improve their jobs?

Next, follow your “lesson plan” using the Teaching Techniques and Types of Learning Activities you planned in advance. Lastly…

5. Check

The people who can provide the best advice in evaluating the training are the employees. Once trained, check to see if employees have understood the information they received and can apply it to working safely. You can do this in a number of ways including:

  • Asking for feedback on the material
  • Asking for explanations of the procedures, work practices or safe use of tools and equipment
  • Having employees fill out questionnaires on the training
  • Asking open ended questions and inviting comments
  • Having employees demonstrate safe work practices and the proper use of tools and equipment
  • Providing opportunities to practice and discuss new learning
  • Using their answers to questions you asked during the training to see if the employees expectations and needs have been met
  • Getting input from supervisors who have noticed changed behavior and safer work practices from employees once they have returned to work

Use feedback from employees to improve your future trainings. After you have received feedback from the employees make sure to incorporate any of their suggestions, new ideas, or examples that you feel would improve your next training. You can then update your “lesson plan" and modify your teaching techniques and types of learning activities accordingly.

I hope you find these tips useful and look forward to your feedback. Have a great rest of your week, until next month…