Not another safety induction: a better experience


Not another safety induction: a better experience

What is it about safety inductions that make people cringe?

By Stacy Hamilton

What is it about safety inductions that make people cringe? 

I recently caught up with a new acquaintance to swap stories about our good, bad and ugly work experiences and we started talking about the OHS induction process.

He said he had just completed the refresher training the night before and I asked what he had learned. In truth, he told me he couldn’t remember. Not even 12 hours earlier, this online induction had been completed and he couldn’t recall any of the information. Sadly his story is not unique.

Don't bore people at this critical stage

Let’s be honest – health and safety training is boring. I can say that because I work in the industry and have done for a number of years. If I’m not excited about the presentation, and I have a lot of passion for all things safety, how can we expect others to get excited? Most of the time people attend the training because they have to, not because they want to, so you’ve got to make an extra effort to get them involved. I’m not talking about turning it into a full blown circus, but if they:
  • don’t see any value in it;
  • can’t relate it to their jobs or their lives; and
  • can’t see how it’s going to positively influence their job or workplace, you’re wasting your time.
The last thing you want is for them to walk out of the presentation and say something like “that was one hour of my life that I will never get back”.

The on boarding process of anyone new within an organisation is critical. The way in which your commitment to safety is presented will be determined and interpreted in those first crucial days and weeks. The first chance you get to convince new employees or visitors that your business is serious about safety is through the induction.

It's more than a 'tick the box' exercise

Often, the induction process is online, and while that is a perfectly acceptable way to communicate policies and procedures, it doesn’t really allow for any interaction, engagement or opportunity to ask questions.

So then why do OHS induction programs often fail to leave a lasting impression? Here are a few reasons we’ve identified over the years:
  • They aren’t written or delivered with the end users in mind;
  • They are laden with safety jargon that confuses the real intent of the training; or
  • The message is typically one of compliance rather than one of commitment.
Employees can easily spot a “tick the box” exercise vs one that the organisation is really passionate and committed to getting right.

One of the arguments in favour of online induction is that it is a more efficient and effective use of safety and HR resources. This may be true, but in the long run, you end up spending twice as long trying to embed the processes because they weren’t fully explained in the beginning.

Empower people to be safety-minded

So what will make a good OHS induction?
  • One that incorporates all styles of learning (listening, doing, watching);
  • Provide the underlying “why” it’s important to the company and to them;
  • Is interactive and doesn’t use too much safety jargon; and above all else;
  • One that makes them feel like they haven’t wasted their time.
Maya Angelou said it best when she said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Go out and make people feel empowered, positive and wanting to initiate change after completing your company’s safety induction. I dare you!
This article originally appeared on the Centre for Workplace Leadership website.

Stacy Hamilton is the director of SafetyTCG, a workplace safety training and consultancy group in Victoria. 
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