All employers have to perform various forms of training and education at one time or another to ensure they remain in compliance with OSHA, EPA, or other government regulations; to comply with company-specific policies and procedures; or to provide a refresher on a topic or issue.

When it comes to this kind of training, employers should ask themselves: Are my employees really listening, or am I wasting time and money?

Only you and your attendees know for sure, but I’m willing to guess that there are quite a few attendees who aren’t tuned in.

What Can You Do?

Here are five tips to help you improve your instructor-led presentations on workplace safety:

1. Keep it short. Most attendees stop paying attention after the first 10–15 minutes, and some never pay attention if their interest is not sparked at the beginning. So keep it short and to the point!

2. Get your audience involved. Most people think of involvement as getting attendees to talk or share, but it could be as simple as recognizing an attendee or getting the audience to do something—for example, let's recognize Max for a job well done!

3. Appeal to self-interest by considering the What's in it for the attendee? proposition. Statements such as "OSHA will cite us unless we…" may not hit home the way this statement might: "You could lose an eye unless you wear your protective equipment."

4. Summarize and end positively. Sum up the key points and then end it; don't drone on. And end on a positive note: “If we meet our safety goals, we’ll meet our team and business goals too.”

5. Take what you can get. At the end of the day, not all attendees are going to buy into your message; it’s just the way it is. But if you get buy-in from 85–90%, consider your presentation a success!

Remember, safety is much more than a pair of safety glasses or gloves—it's a mindset!


Author: Milton Jacobs, Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Safety Solution Consultants, Inc. Jacobs is the educational director at the Home Meets Work Safety Institute in East Granby.