No matter the industry in question, all workplace environments have the potential to expose employees to hazards. Data published by the UK government reveals there were 135 fatal work-related accidents recorded between 2022-2023, with supporting information revealing over 550,000 employees sustained non-fatal injuries at work between 2021-2022.
All employees have the right to work in a safe and secure environment, in which all potential hazards have been identified, analysed and mitigated. To achieve this, UK employers must invest in comprehensive workplace safety training programs tailored to their unique needs.
Alongside protecting employees from physical harm, workplace safety training can improve productivity, positively impact engagement and help teams to cultivate a culture of safety in their workplace. To help employers develop new, or strengthen existing programs, this short guide will outline 7 steps to workplace safety training success for organisations of any size.
1. Identify Key Issues
For a workplace safety training program to be effective, employers must identify the common hazards currently compromising employee safety. An analysis of all previous accidents and injuries must be performed to identify any key issues that training could help to address.
When reviewing past incidents, teams should consider how each accident could have been avoided. For example, a worker may have been injured after entering a hazardous area that wasn’t properly secured. In this case, staff would benefit from learning how to create the proper physical security plan, safely operate installed devices, and receive updated guidance regarding access control.
In a broader sense, consider whether accidents were caused by:
- The workplace environment
- A lack of knowledge or technical skills
- Improperly maintained machinery
- Overexertion, lethargy or tiredness
- Ineffective personal safety equipment
2. Determine Training Processes
With a good understanding of the key safety issues that need to be resolved, employers can begin to determine which processes will be most beneficial to their workforce. Look for links between common hazards and consider what the broader cause might be. For instance, if a majority of accidents involve one piece of equipment, training should be focused on this area.
Other factors may include scheduling and logistics. If several incidents have been caused by overexertion, training may need to be provided to ensure staff are taking appropriate breaks and looking after their personal health. If multiple employees have been injured while moving stock, training procedures should be updated alongside improvements to safety equipment.
3. Develop Clear Objectives
Clear goals and objectives must be set so that employees understand what they’re expected to achieve. When beginning a new workplace safety training program, employees must know how they’re expected to safely:
- Complete training tasks
- Improve their own performance
- Improve their own behaviours
To create clear, concise and actionable objectives, employers must take the time to consider how relevant training information is to be communicated. Think about the following elements:
- Who is this training program for?
- What prior knowledge does this person have?
- How will this process be evaluated?
- What conditions will this training be performed under?
- What materials/equipment will be provided?
4. Create Learning Activities
Using the information collected in the previous step, employers should have all they need to begin creating effective learning activities. Different employees may require different types of training to get the most out of workplace safety training programs. Some may respond better to visual learning, others may benefit from practical activities, and tailor your training accordingly.
When developing training materials, consider how instructions are worded. If staff have prior knowledge of certain processes, high-level terminology may be appropriate, though if new hires are being trained, then simple instructions may be more effective. Finally, ensure that whoever is performing the safety training understands how employees are being evaluated.
5. Implement the Training
Workplace safety training programs should begin with a quick review of the key objectives staff are expected to achieve, as well as an overview of the tasks that will be performed. As each objective is met, instructors should demonstrate how this new information will benefit staff under normal working conditions. Examples and use cases will help to reinforce goals.
It’s also important to encourage natural discussions during safety training programs, as this will help staff to understand new processes better and practise newly learned skills in a safe and controlled environment. Between training activities, allow some time for employees to:
- Ask relevant questions
- Conduct discussions
- Share expertise and opinions
- Present hypotheticals and theories
6. Evaluate the Process
Workplace safety training programs are only successful if employees come away from the process with new and actionable knowledge. Of course, instructors will have ensured that staff met predetermined objectives during the training course, though an ongoing evaluation should be conducted to determine whether suggested improvements have been successful.
The clearest indication of success will be a measurable reduction in accidents and injuries after the completion of the program. Employers must monitor these metrics closely during the following weeks and months. If improvements have not been made, or some employees begin to fall back into old habits, the training program will need to be adjusted accordingly.
7. Consider Improvements
Workplace safety training programs are often most effective when performed frequently, so even if past sessions have been successful, it’s still worth considering how training activities could be improved for the future. It can be wise to ask employees for feedback shortly after the program has been completed, either in a meeting or in the form of a feedback survey.
To ensure that feedback is structured and actionable, try creating a questionnaire for staff to complete, with a short test covering the objectives of the training to determine whether the information has been retained. Useful questions to ask employees include:
- How clear were the training objectives?
- Did you feel engaged during the course?
- Were the instructions easy to understand?
- Did any sections feel repetitive?
- Would you suggest any improvements?
No workplace will ever be completely free from hazards, though well-structured workplace training programs will provide employees with the knowledge required to work safely. To create an effective safety training course, employers must carefully analyse their workplace, identify key issues, tailor training to workers’ needs and make sure to perform frequent evaluations. Following these steps will lead to workplace safety training success.