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Hohmann and Barnard, Inc.
Husqvarna Construction Products N.A.
Hydro Mobile, Inc.
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Kennison Forest Products, Inc.
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Southwest Scaffolding
Tradesmen's Software, Inc.
Use humor to get and keep people engaged
Use humor to get and keep people engaged
August 13, 2013 7:00 AM CDT

Effective safety training

Strategic Safety Consulting


The majority of incidents and injuries in the workplace are related to unsafe behavior, not unsafe conditions. Effective safety training can have immediate and tangible benefits to your company, including increased productivity and employee retention, less absenteeism and reduced insurance and liability claims.

So what’s defined as effective? Well for starters, it is not 3 hours of videotapes. It's an on-going and interactive process which relies on employee buy-in and involvement and management commitment.
Here are some simple points to consider when designing and implementing your next safety training program:


Action and interactivity will ensure responses from your audience. Your audience can't fall asleep if they are moving around. You’ll also gain a higher retention from something that is different from the conference room or trailer. Consider training in the field…remember how much fun field trips were in grade school.


Sometimes employees may be afraid that asking questions or voicing opinions will make them look ignorant, get them in trouble, or even worse - will keep them there longer. From their point of view, it's much safer to stay silent and avoid the possibility of displeasure or embarrassment. Therefore, a big responsibility of the trainer is to build a safe environment and demonstrate that it is safe to participate, thus a lot more enjoyable and meaningful.

7-Minute Rule

Most adults can sit and listen to someone else talk for only about 7 minutes before their minds begin to drift off. Therefore, trainers should be willing to do whatever it takes to keep their listeners on their mental toes. Pre-program your presentation with ways to surprise your listeners into engaging their minds every 5 to 7 minutes. Keeping your audience guessing "What are they going to do next?" is an effective way to hold their attention.


Mix cause and effect stories into your training session and use examples from your own workplace. Show your audience why they should care. If employees are willing, have them tell personal stories of incidents that occurred close to them. This tool helps to minimize the “it can’t happen to me” theory.


Use humor to get and keep people engaged. Intersperse your presentation with jokes, funny pictures, or video clips. You can probably develop a ‘safety moral’ for just about any funny picture or video clip that comes across your desk.


Credibility is the most important aspect of a successful training program. Make sure you're prepared. People do not want to learn from experts, they want to learn from people with expertise. Also, keep in mind that a good trainer is also a good listener.

“Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands." Happy Training!

About the Author

Larry Vacala is the president of Restore Masonry, LLC. He has served as Secretary and Region D Vice President for the Mason Contractors Association of America.


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