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3 Common Safety Training Pitfalls

Effective safety training is a must, so why isn't yours working?

Even though you have provided a steady stream of training sessions, your safety culture isn’t changing and your employees aren’t engaged in the process.

The very nature of safety training is for the workers’ health and wellbeing. Why then does training seem like such a painful experience for employees?

Often these issues are caused by one of several errors in the way instruction is delivered to employees. Let’s look at some of these and how they can be overcome.

1. Non-interactive:

Video-based formats might be necessary to deliver the essence of the training, but if they are the only method used, information may not be imparted in meaningful ways. Likewise, read-and-agree formats, which only engage workers by clicking a button, may not generate learning, and they can be boring and a chore for employees. Even lecture-style training sessions can offer little interaction, unless the trainer uses demonstrations or offers a way for the trainees to participate. Variety is the spice of life, and effective training should be full of it. Offer variety in training methods and consider interactive ways for employees to become engaged.

 2. Missing the Big Picture:

Under OSHA, employees must be trained and competent to perform tasks and job duties associated with hazards, which means learning must really resonate with your workers. While it is important that employees have awareness of OSHA standards and the regulations that apply to their duties, too much of that will kill your training intent. Focusing on the legalities, but not applying these areas to the real world of the worker is one way to lose the entire audience. Training delivered this way lacks significance to the worker. There is no “big picture” of how this correlates to their jobs or personal safety. To avoid this, trainers must focus on “real world” problems and emphasize how the learning can be applied. Training then becomes useful, instead of arbitrary facts and details.

 3. Too Much of a Good Thing:

Most people learn best incrementally and through repetition. Flooding employees in one long day of training or lengthy sessions can be extreme overload. Even if you provide engaging and relevant training the acquired knowledge can falter without follow up. Learning is a lengthy process of building for retention, not a giant push of information. So include ways to add to the training by integrating core aspects into the workplace, and provide it in small but frequent events that follow instruction. Toolbox talks are beneficial for this, as are employee-led demonstrations that apply the skills learned in training.


Effective safety training should be interactive, easily digestible and given in a way that directly correlates to the workers. It may take time to reformat your training program, but it’s worth the effort. Avoiding these pitfalls can make your safety program robust and engaging, and change even the most reluctant worker’s mind about safety training.

Find even more information you can use to help make informed decisions about the regulatory issues you face in your workplace every day. View all Quick Tips Technical Resources at

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DISCLAIMER:The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This publication is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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