How to Make Safety Training Sessions More Effective

Help your safety trainers help trainees learn more, quicker, and better with these tips from training experts.

Conducting effective training is no easy task for trainers. They can always use some extra help. Here are some suggestions from three training consultants that you can share with your trainers to help achieve these critical goals:

  • Improve the quality of training
  • Engage trainees more fully in training
  • Make training more memorable
  • Ensure transfer of skills and knowledge from the classroom to the job

How to Emphasize Important Information

To drive home important points during training, your trainers can benefit from the techniques of Dorcas M. T. Cox, author of Project Management Skills for Instructional Designers: A Practical Guide and founder, president, and CEO of Project Management Solutions, Ltd. (

For example, word cues can be used to emphasize key points verbally, says Cox. When introducing important information, Cox suggests saying:

  • “This is very critical…”
  • “This aspect is particularly difficult…”
  • “You really need to pay attention to this…”

Verbal emphasis also includes the pitch of the trainers voice and the rate at which he or she speaks. To get learners’ attention, Cox says trainers can:

  • Speak more slowly
  • Pause before they say something
  • Emphasize the first syllable of the word
  • Use repetition for reinforcement

Bullet points, underlining, white space, and asterisks are among the many types of visual emphasis that trainers can use to point out important information. When using a flip board, Cox recommends drawing over each listed item with a HI-LITER® as it is discussed.

She also suggests presenting information in a variety of visual formats (handouts, whiteboards, PowerPoint® slides, photographs, illustrations, graphs, tables, charts, etc.). When including text in training materials, use a large font and short paragraphs of only five or six lines.

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Small Group Activities

“Adults learn by doing, not by listening,” says Ronald M. Katz, president of Penguin Human Resources Consulting ( Small group activities provide opportunities for learners to get involved in training and use their new skills before they are back on the job.

Katz recommends:

  • Introduce small group activities early. This sets the tone for the training session. “I want them to know they will be busy,” he says.
  • Avoid micromanaging. After explaining the groups’ mission, trainers should sit down at a nearby table for a few minutes while groups get started. Then trainers can walk around and briefly visit each group. This is followed by another “sit out” period for the trainer, who does another walkaround toward the end of the activity.
  • Give groups time to share what they’ve learned. Trainers should resist the urge to share their own ideas during the debriefing. Trainers should be sure to find a good idea from each group to integrate into a general discussion of the topic following the debriefing. This makes trainees feel good about their contributions.
  • Ask what questions trainees have. This tells learners that “there ought to be questions, and you should ask them,” Katz says. Ask whether trainees have any questions, on the other hand, implies maybe there shouldn’t be any.

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Learner-Centered Training

Learner-centered training is “training in which learners are actively involved every step of the way from the moment they walk into the classroom until they leave,” says Sharon L. Bowman, president of Bowperson Publishing and Training, Inc. (www. “They don’t just sit there and listen.”

New trainers need to be very aware of how much talking they’re doing versus how much talking learners are doing, says Bowman. “The person doing the most talking is doing the most learning.”

To create a learner-centered environment, Bowman also advocates letting learners learn from each other and lessening lecture to increase learning. In learner-centered training, “learners are doing a lot of talking, discussing, sharing opinions, writing—all of that,” and the trainer shifts from be “sage on stage to a guide on the side.”

Trainers can also make lecture formats more learner-centered by following the “10-minute rule.” “After every 10- to 20-minute lecture, stop for 1 to 2 minutes and involve your learners in a quick review of what you just taught them,” suggest Bowman.

If you want trainees to remember and use what they’ve learned in training, says Bowman, training must be centered on the learner rather than on the trainer. With the learner-centered approach, she maintains, “the learning will stick. Without it, learning won’t stick.”

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