The Hell, and the Heaven, with Safety Training

Health and Safety

What does heaven look like for a trainer? Any trainer. I’ll tell you:

  • Dedicated delegates, hungry for learning and growth
  • Enthusiasm, excitement and energy that fills the training room
  • Management who are eager to help their employees apply what they learned when they return to work
  • Transformed trainees, showering you with testimonies and post-training calls about how your training changed their lives and career

Glamorous!

Well, you ain’t gonna get any of this in a safety training!

If you haven’t been a safety trainer, good for you, you haven’t seen hell. If you have been a safety trainer, congratulations!

Wait! Let me explain. Please carefully and open-mindedly read below, why I believe Safety training is the HELL and HEAVEN for every trainer.

The HELL with safety training

I don’t know about you, but any safety trainer – and trainee – will tell you how safety training is awfully different from any other training. And it mainly has got to do with the attitudes that the delegates bring with them to the training room:

  1. Unnecessary: this is an extra burden on our work and time. Work can continue without safety; it always has, and it will continue as such. Safety courses are no more than disturbance to work.
  2. Unclear sentence: why have they sentenced me to this workshop? What did I do wrong? Is it a punishment for something I did? What message is my supervisor trying to send me, sentencing me to this “prisontation”?
  3. Uncertain benefits: what’s in it for me? I know there won’t be promotions or incentives out of this training! I’ll be safer?! Well, I was safe before I come here. And if I continue to be safe, what’s the evidence this training caused it?
  4. Uncommitted management: the people who sent me here; they’re not serious about safety themselves, except when law scrutiny becomes imminent. And when I go back to work, nothing’s going to change. Work and production, not safety, will be “first” as always – no matter what our signboard at the entrance says.
  5. Unattractive: Let’s face it. Safety trainings aren’t as exciting and entertaining as other trainings we’re sent to. They’re nothing more than dull and tedious preaching.

You won’t hear them saying these (although they occasionally blow it). But they’re right, at least in their views. Being in a safety training is torturing, both for the trainer and trainees. It’s the underworld of “have-to-be-here” not “want-to-be-here” feeling that both share till they’re separated. No training that I’ve conducted or seen is like safety training.

Trainer or trainee, to go to safety training is to “go to He…!”

The HEAVEN with safety training

Let me say that again: no other training is like safety training. Despite all what I saw and said about safety training nightmares, it is the exquisite paradise every trainer dreams of.

You want to know why? See above. Read “The HELL with safety training” section again.

Got it? Still not?!

Right, let me show you what I mean. Those demoralizing and paralyzing attitudes, every trainer faces and fights can significantly help you become a more motivating and mobilizing trainer.

Here’s how it works. Let’s read those hellish attitudes again; this time with a heavenly eye:

  • Unnecessary? Boy, this is a tough one. How can you engage anyone in learning what they think they don’t need?! Quite the opposite, you can. Come on! Your task is easier than compelling salespersons who always sell people stuff they don’t need. You are “selling” your audience something they do need badly, more than anything else: safety; the commodity no other commodity is meaningful without. Yes, I can hear you saying: I believe that, they don’t! Well, make them. Use more of your selling muscles, and when you do, guess what, you’ll become a stronger trainer. There you go; you turned the first obstacle into a unique opportunity. Want more? Read on.
  • Unclear sentence? I was once assigned to train a group of engineers on a sophisticated company safety procedure, which, according to the policy, wasn’t part of their responsibilities to learn or implement. I was literally held hostage with angry prisoners who felt they shouldn’t be here, just because their management thought so! Nevertheless, I decided to turn that day into something my “inmates” will love and enjoy. I started to unravel some facts about that technical training in a way that their highly technical background will link to. I convinced them that this training will be like a picnic to smart guys like you, compared to other groups. Guess what! The engineers were soon absorbed by the training and the outcome exceeded mine and their expectations. By unveiling the beauties and benefits of the training, you can show your prisoners – trainees – that this prison sentence can be a worthwhile picnic and a remarkable experience, regardless of who sentenced them and why.
  • Uncertain benefits? We know that every safety training is eventually aimed at making workers and workplaces safer. The unuttered argument is: says who?! Because of clichés like “the luck factor” and “we did it this way for years with no problems”, poorly designed and delivered trainings, and other factors, loss prevention programs (including training) failed to take convincing credit for actually preventing and reducing accidents. Unless someone proves it: you! Yes, you – the trainer – have a heavy yet unique duty to make your attendees believe “safety works.” Statistics, facts, examples, carefully selected case studies, your own experience as well as those of your audience’s, all these are your persuasive arsenal to turn your antagonist trainees into allies, and – of course – turn you from a despised preacher into an admired leader.
  • Uncommitted management? This is my favorite. Although it isn’t limited to safety training, it is best manifested and managed there. Here’s the thing: at the onset of each training, powerfully pin this point to every delegate: the first and foremost winner in this deal is you, regardless of how others, including your management, act upon it. In safety workshops, I prove to my delegates how they will solely gain from learning and practicing safety, in or out of their organizations. You can do that as well. Bring out the beauties and bonuses your training has and hides for them on the long run and the wider spectrum, rather than just within their narrow job environment.
  • Unattractive: This should be the easy part, shouldn’t it?! I mean, if you are a soft skills trainer, you should teach me how to do make my safety trainings fun and enjoyable. Regardless, what we all trainers agree on is that fun and enjoyment are not the end but the means to achieving amazing outcomes from any training. Neither learning nor the desire for it is possible without draining out tension and anxiety, and pumping excitement and enthusiasm in any learning environment.

Now what do you think? Aren’t these five hells – and heavens – of safety training the exact essentials of any strong training and trainer?

After many years in occupational health and safety training, and especially when comparing it to trainings I conducted in other areas, I have come to a solid conclusion: safety training holds an unparalleled position in the training world, uncontested by any other training in terms of the unique challenges, experience and powers it equips you with as a trainer. Safety training is a heaven for trainers.

If you are a safety trainer, appreciate the invaluable experience you’re blessed with.

If you are training in another field, this article is equally useful for you.

So, cheer up. Those devastating and defying attitudes taking you down the stairs to training’s netherworld are the same risers that will fly you to training’s never land.

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