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Risk Management Bulletin


By April 1, 2008No Comments

HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead!
HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead!
HeadOn. Apply directly …

OK, we’ll stop before we apply a headache to your forehead. But we’re repeating one of America’s most annoying TV ads (even the makers of HeadOn® admit it!) to make a point about safety training: When you’re trying to convince someone to do something, repetition works.

It worked for HeadOn, getting people to buy more than 6 million tubes of the stuff. And it will work for you in getting your workers to remember to follow safety procedures that might save all of you a headache!

Here are some reasons why:

  • Trainees learn at different rates. Not everyone picks up new information the same way: Some might get things the first time you tell or show them; others might need several exposures to the material. The trick in working with a group is to use the more agile learners to help the rest, while you supervise them all.
  • Trainees learn in different mode. Some people are visual learners, others audio-oriented, and still others process new information best by tactile means, actually touching or doing a new task. This means that you should not only repeat the material but also vary the ways you present it. A toolbox talk might work for some. Others need to see a PowerPoint® or video. Still others need to do the task.
  • Don’t just do what I say, do what I do. To ensure that all learners pick up a new procedure — such as how to operate equipment safely or utilize PPE — demonstrate it several times. Then let students do it themselves, while you coach and provide feedback.
  • Reinforcement Rocks! Few TV advertisers show their ad just once. Instead, their commercials run day after day, at spaced intervals. Print advertisers have also learned that it can be more effective to run a small newspaper ad day after day rather than one big full-page ad only once. Trainers call this “reinforcement,” and there’s an important reason that it’s needed.

“Trainees can remember 90% of what they’ve learned an hour after training,” says expert trainer Bob Pike, They then remember “50% after a day, 25% after two days, and only 10% after 30 days.” That’s why subject matter needs to be revisited six times before it can be considered to be truly learned.

Of course, unlike those annoying commercials that are always the same, your best strategy in revisiting topics is to change your approach each time: teach the same material, but with a new spin. Change your visuals, have new real-life examples, have different types of demonstrations, or even have a new person do the training. But the basic principle of repeating the key information will remain — or, as HeadOn might put it, Repetition: Apply directly to your employees. Because it works … works … works.

Our risk management professionals would be glad to work with you in developing and refining an effective, comprehensive safety education program.