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February 01, 2008
Do Trainers Need to Be Trained?

Absolutely! For safety training to be effective, supervisors and managers conducting training have to be trained to train. Here's what they need to know.

1. How to train adult learners. Trainers must understand and use the four key elements of successful employee learning:

  • Motivation. Trainers must explain how training is related to trainees' jobs and safety. They also need to instill a sense of personal achievement to encourage all trainees to accomplish training goals. And trainers must make training stimulating and interactive so that it keeps the interest and attention of their trainees.
  • Reinforcement. Trainers need to understand and use positive reinforcement (praise, for example) to support learning of new skills and understanding of new information. Reinforcement helps make safety training a positive, meaningful experience for trainees.
  • Retention. Trainers also have to make sure trainees retain the skills and information they learn in training so that they can use it on the job. Your trainers can achieve successful retention rates by giving trainees the opportunity to practice skills and to ask questions about new information during training sessions. Quizzes and other forms of evaluation also help aid retention.
  • Transference. Trainers must make sure that trainees bring what they've learned in training directly to their jobs. Training must be scheduled so that employees can use training skills and information immediately. And they should provide handouts that trainees can take back to the job to assist in transference.

2. How to plan for safety training. Trainers must be taught to develop effective training plans. They need to be able to:

  • Set reasonable and useful training objectives
  • Assess employee training needs and match trainees' needs to training objectives
  • Why It Matters...
    • You spend a lot of money every year on training, and if trainers are ineffective, training goals won't be met.
    • A significant portion of the safety training you provide is required by OSHA standards, which means it's essential for trainers be competent and train employees well so that they can meet OSHA requirements.
    • One of the best ways to prevent workplace accidents and injuries is by training employees to work safely.
  • Understand the requirements of OSHA-mandated training and incorporate those goals in training plans
  • Set up a practical training schedule that allows for full employee participation and includes a logical sequence for multipart training
  • Choose appropriate training methods
  • Develop appropriate training materials that match training content to employee training needs

3. How to use a variety of training methods effectively. Trainers should be familiar with many different training methods so that they can always choose the most effective method for a specific safety training topic and a particular group of trainees. Among the methods trainers should be competent to use are:

  • Classroom training, including discussions, lectures, storytelling, and video and PowerPoint® presentations
  • Demonstrations and hands-on practice
  • On-the-job training and cross-training
  • Computer-based learning, including CD-ROM and multimedia presentations and e-learning (online training)

4. How to prepare training materials. Preparing useful and informative training materials includes several key steps. Trainers should trained to:

  • Specify training goals and objectives
  • Present subject matter in a logical order
  • Emphasize the most important points
  • Customize off-the-shelf training materials to suit the needs of your organization and your employees
  • Incorporate interactive methods into training
  • Write a well-organized training outline and helpful handouts
  • Plan for questions and answers about training content
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