The Importance of Effective Safety Training

Effective Safety Training

Please don’t call me stupid, but ignorant, I can live with that…

Ignorance simply means having a “lack of knowledge”. Someone who is ignorant lacks knowledge, or they don’t understand, either because they haven’t sought training, or they weren’t effectively trained.  Stupid people, on the other hand, have been effectively trained, but choose to ignore what they were taught.

Imagine someone who has never seen a rat trap and has no idea how one works.  If I place a loaded rat trap in front of that person without any warning or instruction and they step on it, or try to pick it up and get injured, are they stupid or ignorant?

I’d argue ignorantly.

But, if I were to take that same person and train them, make them aware of the hazard, and they still stick their hand in the trap, are they stupid or ignorant?

Stupid, right?  Well, not necessarily…


The Solution

The answer comes down to how effective was my training.  As trainers, we need to ask ourselves this question each, and every time we teach a class.  Did we effectively train our employees on the topic?  Just talking at them, or reading from PowerPoint slides, or having them watch a video, doesn’t always translate to effective training.  In fact, I’d argue that it seldom does.

In the example of the rat trap, my training could be a simple and stern verbal instruction to never stick your hand in a loaded trap.  I did my job, I trained them.  But how effective was the training?  What if instead of telling them, I showed them?  What if I don a pair of safety glasses and use a pencil to visually show them what a loaded rat trap can do to your fingers?  Wouldn’t that be more effective?

Let’s keep this in mind when we train our employees…for the most part, they all come to us somewhat “ignorant” and it’s our job as instructors to educate them and make them aware of the hazards.  This can only be accomplished through “effective” training.

Someone once told me, if the student hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.  There’s so much truth in this statement.  Let’s all go the extra step to more effectively train our employees.

In closing, I realize the learner has personal responsibility and I’m not discarding that…but, rather just pointing out the importance, we as trainers, have in the process.  Also, let’s not go and call our employees “stupid” if they get injured or perform an unsafe act.  Let’s point the figure back at ourselves and ask how we can better educate them.

I’d love to hear your feedback.

Steve Polich, CSP

President/Co-Founder, Inc.

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