7 Steps to Kick-Start Your Yearly Safety Training Plan

7 Steps to Kick-Start Your Yearly Safety Training Plan

Christopher Collier

Christopher Collier

Search Engine Strategist

Christopher Collier is the Search Engine Strategist with Vivid Learning Systems, an online safety training provider making life a little easier for safety professionals. We want to make sure your workers stay safe out there.

So it’s time for you to plan out your safety goals and training for the year.  But with so many things to consider when planning safety training, it can be difficult to decide what goals and topics are most important for your organization.  Implementing an organized approach to safety training planning can save you money and time, and make your safety training much more efficient. The following seven steps will guide your planning process as you work toward having safest year yet.

Perform Assessments

The first step in developing your strategic plan for a year’s worth of safety training is to perform assessments.  You’ll want to evaluate the current state of your training activities using methods like employee focus groups, one-on-one conversations, and surveys.  Assessments are follow-ups that will help you determine training knowledge transfer and retention.

When seeking feedback from employees, ask questions that will give insight into whether or not your training topics are on target.  Questions to ask employees could be: Do you feel the training is relevant to your work?  What do you think of the quality of the training instruction and content?  How well are you retaining what you learn?  Do you prefer online training, instructor-led training or a blend of both?

In addition to gathering feedback from employees, you can also examine competency by reviewing test scores, attendance records and, if you encouraged post-training comments, feedback cards handed in after training sessions.  You can also gain insight through your personal observations during training sessions and on the work site.  Ask yourself, “How engaged are the employees while taking trainings?” and “Do employees seem to be remembering what they’ve learned and implementing it while working?”

Another important step in the assessment process is determining whether you are effectively keeping in tune with your training audience.  Do you need to translate more training courses for those who don’t speak English fluently?  Do learning gaps exist between workplace hazards and employee knowledge of those risks?  Site supervisors can be a great source of information while answering these questions.

Your assessment should consider both internal and external factors that might affect training needs. Internally, for example, have you brought in new machinery, changed processes or started anything new that calls for OSHA compliance training or additional safety skills?  Externally, has the company made any new acquisitions, expanded globally or suffered from poor financial performance?  All of these factors can affect your training plans.

Select Training Topics

After completing an assessment of the previous year’s safety training, begin to put together a list of training topics you want to cover.  You can review your injury records for patterns and trends to help decide what training topics are most needed.  You can also review your risk assessments for each job, prioritizing risks by number of employees exposed, frequency of exposure, and potential severity of harm.

Other ways you can gather information for selecting training topics include reviewing injury investigation findings, studying management systems audits and observing employee behaviors on the work site.  Furthermore, learning gaps discovered during the assessment phase may indicate the need for training in certain areas.

It is also to your advantage to consult a number of individuals throughout your organization, from supervisors and managers to employees and the maintenance department.  Using a variety of input points will help bring relevance to your training.

In conjunction with keeping employee’s alive and healthy, safety training is essential because it’s often required in order to stay compliant with OSHA regulations.  OSHA has numerous standards that require annual training and mandatory refresher training.  You should check OSHA’s website for a complete list of annual training requirements.

Get Feedback

Once you’ve drafted a list of safety training topics, circulate the list for feedback.  With the feedback you receive, edit the list down to the set of training courses you believe will be the best fit for your organization. And remember, your training list is not set in stone.  Unexpected occurrences are not uncommon when it comes to safety, and you may want to implement a training course halfway through the year to address a recent safety issue that you had not anticipated.

Check For Alignment

Ultimately, your training should address priority risks, common injuries, and facility and process changes.  On top of this, it should align with your organization’s safety objectives and business planning goals, meshing well with your safety vision statement and corporate core values relating to employee health and safety.

Set Objectives

As you develop and plan your training for the year, make sure to set objectives and devise a means of measuring whether or not you’re meeting your goals.  Maybe you want to see lower injury rates or address a lack of employee engagement.  Ask for employee feedback to help you judge subjective goals such as interaction and morale.

Reconsider Training Delivery Formats

The format you use to deliver your training is an integral part of your safety training plan.  You will want to look at the types of training delivery methods you’ve implemented in the past and decide if you want to stick with them or try something new.

Maybe you’ve been using live training but want to try online training to accommodate international employees. Or a blended method of online and live training may be a better fit.  Or perhaps you want to do away with your Online Safety Training and convert to customized courses that use hazards, issues, individuals, and graphics unique to your organization.

You may also want to consider integrating technology into your training program.  Employees may have voiced interest in taking training on mobile devices.  Maybe you’d like to try out courses that incorporate simulations, animation, 3D graphics, storytelling or game-based learning. Webcasts, podcasts and interviews with subject matter experts could also be helpful training delivery methods.

Support and Promote Your Training

Finally, take a look at how you support and promote your training activities.  Is it time to update your print materials?  Do you give each new hire a schedule of the on-boarding safety training they will receive relating to their job?

By taking a structured approach to your safety training planning you can save training dollars while creating a more engaged workforce and safer workplace. 

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