Here at Vector Solutions, we make solutions for safety and health training as well as associated software solutions for safety management and mobile risk communication.
Our online health and safety training solutions include learning management systems (LMS), health and safety elearning courses, and microlearning courses for safety training.
But in addition to creating products our customers can use for better safety training, safety management, and risk management, we also try to create and share useful information through our blogs, downloads, and webinars that customers and non-customers alike can use to improve the safety and health training programs at their organizations.
This blog is an example of just that. In this article, we'll provide helpful resources and tips you can use to begin improving your safety and health training programs. Hope you find something of value in it and please let us know if we can help out in any way.
We don't train people at work for no reason, and that's even more true about safety and health training. When safety and health training is done correctly, it's done to inform people about hazards at the workplace and the best ways to work safely to protect oneself from those hazards (yes, we know about safety training compliance requirements, and we'll get to that shortly...).
As a result, truly effective safety training programs begin with knowing your hazards.
You may find the following resources helpful in your hazard identification efforts:
Just as safety training shouldn't exist without a consideration of real workplace hazards, your safety training also shouldn't exist outside an integrated approach as part of your overall safety and health management system.
Safety management systems and programs are a little beyond the scope of this article, but we recommend you check out the following helpful resources to improve your safety management system and to coordinate and align your safety and health training within those systems:
Although this article will include a lot of helpful tips for improving your safety and health training, it's important to know about some very valuable existing safety and health training resources as well.
The first you should know about is the ANSI/ASSP Z490.1 EHS Training Standard. At the time this article is being written, this standard is currently under revision, and those revisions are expected to be completed sometime during the first half of 2022 (the author of this article is on the team revising Z490.1). We encourage you to check out Z490.1 now but also keep your eyes out for the updated, 2022 version.
If you'd like to learn a little about the ongoing revision process, feel free to check out this recorded, on-demand webinar in which two people on the team revising the standard talk more about the standard and about the ongoing revisions:
Additionally, Vector Solutions has created two very helpful EHS/Safety Training Guides that you can download below. One is for general industry and one is for construction. Both are largely based on the Z490.1 EHS training standard by ASSP, but both include additional materials, including materials based on OSHA safety training guidance:
You can download either guide by clicking the links above or download the general industry safety training guide by clicking the button below.
We mentioned earlier that all safety and health training should originate from real workplace hazards, but we're also aware that different organizations, including of course OSHA, impose mandatory safety and health training compliance requirements. The training compliance requirements from OSHA, at least, generally or always apply IF a hazard is present at the workplace, so at least in that sense, they're still hazard-based, but we all know there's plenty of bad, repetitive, and even unnecessary safety and health training that goes on under the "OSHA says so" banner.
Our advice for handling this is that we should all of course comply with our legal safety and health training compliance requirements, but we should always do our best to make safety training something other and better than a simple "check the box" exercise.
For example, it's absolutely true that a newly hired worker will benefit from training that's intended to raise awareness about hazards at the workplace when there's a good chance to believe they had no idea about the risk before. However, it's equally likely that a worker who's been with a company five or ten years isn't benefitting from annual training simply intended to raise awareness about hazard X or hazard Y. We can do better in these cases.
One idea might be to substitute repetitive, awareness-based safety and health training with something that involves the worker more, and in particular the worker's own knowledge of real workplace hazards. Something like a HOP learning team might be a good approach in cases like this.
So fulfill your legal compliance requirements for safety and health training, of course, but always strive to make safety and health training a truly productive experience instead of an empty compliance exercise.
For additional help on the safety training compliance issue, check out these resources:
Many times, when we're faced with a workplace performance problem, be it safety and health related or not, our first instinct is to develop and assign some training.
And while training can be good, can be effective, can lead to valuable knowledge acquisition and skill development, and can help organizations reach their goals, that's not always true. And there are few better ways to create training that doesn't hit those desired benchmarks we just listed then by creating training for a problem training can't solve.
One of the strong-points of the Human Performance Improvement, or HPI, approach is that it includes a strong "front-end analysis" to investigate business goals; define the workplace problem; identify the current state, desired state, and the gap between; and then select an appropriate solution, which may or may not be training.
So, in short, if you apply HPI, you're less likely to create and assign safety and health training for something that safety training can't fix--like a broken work process, or a poorly planned incentive structure, or so on.
Want to learn more about HPI? We've got some stuff for you here:
Additionally, the problem-solving infographic below is based on an HPI classic by Mager and Pipe.
We work in systems of interconnected elements that influence one another, sometimes in unanticipated ways that we might not even be aware of. Yet we often attempt to solve problems, including safety problems, after doing an analysis in a silo that ignores those connections and that system.
That's where systems thinking comes in. If we use a big-picture, holistic frame of reference that identifies as many of those connections and influences as possible, we can get a better idea of how to solve safety problems and how and when to use safety training wisely.
You'll find the following useful sources for more information about safety and systems thinking:
Safety and health training can be valuable, but sometimes a little information, help, or assistance at the time and place of need when a worker's actually on the job is even more important.
That's where a job aid (also called performance support, guidance, learning in the workflow, and/or workflow learning) can come in. A job aid might be as simple as a Post-It note stuck on a computer or a checklist with start-up instructions next to a machine, or it can involve a little more high-tech, such as a PDF manual or a video that a worker accesses at a machine by scanning a QR code with a mobile device.
You can read and learn more about job aids here:
This is also one of three uses mentioned below in our 3 Uses for Microlearning infographic.
If you want to create training that helps people learn, it's best to know how people learn, including how they process, remember, later retrieve, and apply information on the job.
A common model that helps us understand how people learn, how they remember, why they sometimes forget, and how to design training accordingly is known as the information processing model. This model involves sensory memory, working memory, schemas, long-term memory encoding, and transfer. You can learn more about how we remember and use information here:
If your first reaction when it comes time to create safety and health training is to open PowerPoint and an OSHA regulation and begin copying/pasting, there's some room for improvement. 🙂
The ADDIE instructional design model for training design and development is a formulaic, systematic, systemic, and repeatable training design model that will help guide you through many of the important considerations and decisions in safety training design (note: ADDIE is also at the base of the ANSI/ASSP Z490.1 EHS training standard).
The basic idea of ADDIE is that one should analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate. You can learn more about the ADDIE training and design model here:
We've also got an ADDIE infographic for you to download, below.
At the heart of all effective training (and at the heart of the ADDIE model just discussed above) is the idea of creating learning objectives that revolve around performances or behaviors.
A learning objective is what the trainer designer wants the learners to be able to do when the training is over. Training designers should develop learning objectives during the Design phase of ADDIE, then use those learning objectives to (1) create aligned post-training tests or assessments and (2) create the training materials, content, and activities. In short, your learning objectives are your road map for training creation.
We've got more about learning objectives for you here:
And why not download our Learning Objectives guide before you move on:
Safety is (or should be) an evidence-based practice. We want to make our safety management decisions based on things we know work to create a safer, healthier workplace.
The same is true or should be true about training and, of course, safety training. We want to do things during safety and health training activities that research and data has shown leads to increased learning and increased performance outcomes on the job. That's where evidence-based training practices come into play.
Here are just a few evidence-based training practices:
We've got even more about evidence-based training practices and so-called learning myths for you here:
When instructional designers talk about "blended learning," they mean using more than one training delivery method, such as face-to-face instructor-led training or online elearning courses, for a single training activity, curricula, program, or path.
The nice thing about blended learning is that research and evidence shows it tends to lead to better learning and performance results. So you might want to consider more blends in your own safety and health training--resist the tendency to be a one-trick pony with your safety training.
We've got more on blended learning for you in the guide below.
Many organizations, even organizations with effective safety and health training programs, are interested in adding online safety and health training capabilities or in improving those they have already.
To help you with this, we've got a recorded, on-demand webinar titled Selecting & Using Online Safety Training; a second recorded, on-demand webinar titled Beginner's Guide to Online Training (plus a downloadable guide in PDF format by the same name); and an online safety training glossary.
Finally, you might find our Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide helpful (immediately below).
We hope you found these resources interesting and helpful and we hope you can use them to improve your current safety and health training programs.
If you'd like to learn more about how to implement online safety and health training at your facility, give us a shout and we'll be happy to set up a demo or preview and answer your questions.