When it comes time for safety training, differences among employees in your workforce can present a challenge. To ensure effective training, you need to take these factors into account.
- Age. Younger workers might have trouble taking their jobs, including the safety aspects, seriously. Older workers, on the other hand, might feel they already know it all and tune you out. Include ways to make it clear to trainees that this is important to all of them,
- Ability to read and understand English. Many people won’t admit they can’t read or understand English. Be alert to your workers’ ability – or inability – to understand written instructions and to comprehend English. Don’t embarrass them; just make sure that you’re presenting information in a way they can grasp. It might help to involve an additional meeting leader who speaks the workers’ native language.
- Educational level. If your group includes workers with a wide range of educational backgrounds, you need to come up with an approach that gets the message across to the less educated without being so simplistic that it turns off other workers. You might need to use more demonstration and practice than reading and lectures.
- Experience with products, processes, and technology. If workers are relatively inexperienced, take a slow, step-by-step approach and limit each safety meeting to a narrow topic. Experienced workers will more readily understand your references to equipment and procedures, allowing you to focus more on the safety aspects and tie them together. However, they’ll also be more likely to resist changes in the way they do their jobs.
- Tolerance for length and frequency of meetings. How long an attention span do your workers have? How long can they sit still and concentrate? How much can they absorb at once? You’ll have to answer these questions to determine how often you can have safety meetings and how long they can last. The meeting format is also a factor in determining meeting length.
- Extent of prior safety training. The more training workers have received, the easier each subsequent meeting becomes. Once workers understand certain safety basics and incorporate them into their jobs and work styles you can get right to the specifics of your meeting.
- Attitudes toward work and management. If you have some workers who are hostile to you, the company, their jobs, and/or the topic, safety meetings can be stressful. Allow these workers to express their feelings and ask them to try to keep an open mind. Emphasize that their safety is important to you and that these programs will benefit them by making accidents and injuries less likely. It also doesn’t hurt to point out that the same regulations that require companies to provide safety training also require employees to practice the safety methods and practices they’ve been taught on the job.