Are You Boring Your Safety Training Audience?
How do you turn around an unresponsive audience & have a great classroom safety training session or safety committee meeting?
Let’s be honest, safety can be boring and cumbersome at times. People often look at safety professionals as the “safety police” which can tend to create a barrier. Safety professionals must lead their teams to effectively get the safety message across and build a strong safety culture.
This can be rather difficult when your audience is disengaged, uninterested, and doesn’t participate in safety training or meetings. Changing their attitudes will take time and effort but the results will be gratifying!
Know Your Safety Training or Committee Audience
Whether you hold safety meetings or training daily, weekly, or monthly, it is likely that your team, at some point, isn’t going to evoke the response you’d like. Here are a few tips for dealing with a quiet, disruptive, or distracted audience.
Start the session by having everyone write down their names on a name tag along with how many years they have been with the company. Throughout the presentation, encourage the people who have been working at the company the longest to watch over and interact with the newer employees, this will help create more of a family atmosphere.
A good ice breaker is to have the group talk about accidents they have seen or have heard about. Generally, there will be at least one person in attendance that other employees may turn or look up to in confidence. Try to identify this person(s) and make sure to involve them and watch as others join in.
Most people like giving their opinions but might be afraid to speak up in front of others. As a safety leader, it is your job to make the group feel comfortable and encourage them to speak up! If this doesn’t work, give them a quiz or ask them their opinions and have them write it down on paper.
Disruptive and Challenging Groups
If you’ve ever heard the following comments, you know you’ve got your work cut out for you! Instead of avoiding them, take these challenging comments and use them as a tool to engage the rest of the audience too.
Employee: “This is stupid; why are we here?”
Response: I’m not sure why you feel that way but to answer your question… besides the fact that it’s the law and company policy, we at (say the company’s name) cares that you make it home to your family at night. THAT is not stupid. Would you agree?
Employee: “I’ve been working here for 40 years and never have had an accident; what do you think you’re going to tell me that I don’t already know?”
Response: That’s awesome! Can you talk to us about how you have kept safe for this long? Often times accidents occur because we aren’t paying attention; what would you say is the most important part of accident prevention?”
Note: If the employee is really difficult and says “no” (they won’t talk about safety), you can reply by saying “that’s fine, I’ll be glad to talk about safety and my own experiences and if anyone would like to add anything please feel free to join in.”
If an employee continues to be disruptive, try taking a break and pull them aside to talk to them one-on-one. Management can also get involved at this point and decide if disciplinary action should be implemented.
Have you ever presented a safety talk to a yawning audience? When you see people playing on their phones, daydreaming, or even sleeping; it can get pretty frustrating, right? What is really important here is to not get frazzled but instead, change your approach.
Addressing the Invisible Attitude Towards Safety
Now Create Some Challenge & Interaction…
Don’t come off as boring. Even if you’ve delivered the same message a thousand times, speak with enthusiasm! Remember that you are on center stage and your audience is expected to sit still and be quiet. Their blood is flowing slowly and their minds are not actively being challenged either. You’ll want to change that by implementing some of the following activities:
- Stretch Breaks: A quick and easy fix is to have everyone stand up and take a stretch break. While they are doing this, start talking about ergonomics, proper lifting techniques, and ask about how their muscles feel on a day to day basis.
- Hands on Demonstrations: Get them moving a little bit by having them put on a fall arrest harness the right way or challenge them to properly label a chemical container, hold a fire extinguisher and point out how to use it, or any site specific tests you can think of (machine guarding, forklift maneuvering, safety evaluation drills, proper tool use, pointing out hazards they see around).
- Show and Tell: Bring in broken tools or equipment and discuss what to do when you see something around the workplace that looks like that. Even toys like construction vehicles or toolboxes add to the level of participation and make the topics more fun.
- Play Games: Safety Jeopardy gets employees up after a safety talk. Just set up a podium with 3 stations (you can include lights, switches, and buzzers too). The students get to ask questions to other students that pertain to what they just learned.
- Scenario Training: “Suddenly you are doing _____ and _____ happens – what are you going to do?” Brainstorm hazardous situations and ask everyone what they would do and discuss the safest way to actually handle the situation. If you need help coming up with topics, LSCI has some on hand for our clients, so please contact us.
- Incentives: Asking questions gets people involved but sometimes people will just stare at you and not reply. If this happens, try offering incentives. Incentives can include tangible items (like candy, mints, coffee mugs, shirts), performance perks (an extra or longer work break or let them leave early one day), or relieve them of a duty they don’t particularly like for a set amount of time (cleaning or dirty work).
- Stimulating Pictures: A large portion of people are visual learners. Think about when you go to a restaurant with a menu that has photos. Aren’t you more likely to order something that is pictured? The same concept can be applied to safety. Pick clear, colorful, interesting, and demonstrational pictures. It also helps to incorporate pictures from the workplace or on the job tasks. This shows employees exactly what you’re trying to focus on instead of giving them a general idea. Lancaster Safety Consulting, Inc. (LSCI) has found that the “what’s wrong with this picture” theme to be a great way to create discussions among the audience.
Choose to be a Safety Innovator
Most safety professionals are able to deliver a quick safety talk but they aren’t necessarily getting the message across effectively. Strive to be engaging, enthusiastic, and try not to be boring! Respect your employees/co-workers/audience and encourage them to speak up and get involved. A successful safety program starts with leadership and getting everyone else on board. Success takes time and hard work. LSCI is here to help so take advantage of our staff of safety & health professionals by contacting us today at 888.403.6026.
Lancaster Safety Consulting, Inc. writes articles for information purposes only and shall not be held liable for the information posted and is not to be taken as legal advice.