By: Chris Hall, CHST

November 2014

Every company that employs any number of staff is required to provide some form of training for those employees.  OSHA mandates that training is organized and attended by anyone exposed to specific types of hazards.   These may range from simple chemical use, to ladder safety, to preventing and protecting against falls. When presenting these topics in training, use a language that employees understand, but also use methods that are designed to keeping your audience actively thinking.  The basics for establishing or evaluating a current training system are as follows:

  1. Determine if Training is Needed
  2. Identify Training Needs
  3. List Goals and Objectives
  4. Develop Learning Activities
  5. Conduct the Training
  6. Evaluate Program Effectiveness and Improve the Program

Determine if Training is Needed

As easy as it may seem, determining if training is needed is the first step to establishing a reliable training program.  Knowing which hazards your employees are exposed to and which of those hazards have a training mandate will dictate the topics that require training prior to employees being exposed.  In many work environments, a new hire training program needs to be established to ensure coverage of the majority of these topics.  If it is determined that there are deficiencies in employee knowledge, re-training should be considered.  

Identify Training Needs

Once it’s determined that training is needed, then company specific and OSHA requirements need to be identified.  Required topics can be determined using an approach such as Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). JHA identifies hazards before they occur and point to areas where training is required by OSHA.  Things you should also consider are formatting training to address items such as company incident history, equipment use, hazardous tasks, and other suggestions made by management or staff. 

List Goals and Objectives

Set reasonable goals for your training sessions and outline those objectives for the students. Clearly outline what you want employees to achieve by using measurable terms.  Avoid using terminology such as, “understand” or “know” and instead use terminology such as, “outline” or “define”. Well defined goals ensure that everyone knows what the purpose of the training session is and will be prepared to fulfill those expectations. 

Develop Learning Activities

Since there are many different types of adult learners, it is beneficial to provide various activities if time permits. Keep in mind the needs of your adult learners.  Hands-on training is by far the most effective, but some lecture time is required to provide adequate background knowledge.  Developing a multitude of learning activities will help keep the interests of a waning audience and provide a complete learning experience. In shorter sessions, a large group activity may seem cumbersome, but the change will help keep interest.  Remember, safety training can quickly become boring to your audience, especially if it is a topic is that is part of a re-training course.  Mix up the techniques to prevent the experience from becoming stale and to make sure your audience is gaining something useful.

Conduct the Training

After all of the preparation and hard work, now comes the time to present the materials.  Maintain an energetic focus on your topic.  When trainers become monotonous with the topic, the class participants will lose interest, and it becomes a struggle to regain the audience.  Always continue to keep up with developments in the subject matter to bring something new or fresh every time.  Find ways to relate the subject matter to the audience, or solicit input from them to provide it.  Asking general questions of your audience helps to keep them participating while navigating the less active portions of the training.

Evaluate Program Effectiveness and Improve the Program

Every safety program needs the occasional evaluation and updating, and training is no exception.  Training sessions should be continually evaluated to determine what is working and what needs improvement.  Employee surveys and suggestions should always be encouraged to find the most effective methods for your audience.  This feedback may help provide direction when re-evaluating goals, class times, or overall trainer skills.  Improving the training materials and activities can be easy solutions to keeping interest, but can never substitute the effectiveness of a well-balanced trainer.


For every role in your company, some level of safety training should be required.  Even though it can be time consuming, it is still the most effective way to improve performance, efficiency, and safety.  It is an investment in the future of your company and employees.