If you think safety training is fun, then I certainly would bet my paycheck that you are a safety or risk management professional. The rest of the world tends to think safety training is boring. And they would be right. But do you know why? I bet you don’t. And I didn’t either, until I locked 23 people in a room for 5 hours to get to the bottom of it. Here’s what we found – one simple thing.
There’s no getting away from safety training. It’s required in Education Code, Labor Code, Health & Safety Code and by OSHA, the chances of finding a different subject is, well, futile. The majority of the American workforce dreads coming to a safety meeting for a variety of reasons – the main one is that the subject material really isn’t all that interesting. Scott Kelby, a famous photographer, talks a lot about interesting photographs and what makes them that way. He often says that if you want a more interesting photograph then you need to find a more interesting subject. The advice couldn’t be more true when it comes to safety training, but the problem is that the subject is the subject is the subject. Or is it?
Yes, the subject of fall protection is still fall protection. But if we apply Scott Kelby’s photography principle, then fall protection in a school warehouse just doesn’t compare to fall protection at Disneyland’s Tower of Terror. A simple change of scenery can make all the difference in the world when it comes to excitement, engagement and learning. Unfortunately, we can’t hold all of our fall protection classes at Disneyland and we don’t have a budget to produce the training video there either. Yes, we are stuck with the subject and we are back to our original problem.
Can’t Change the Subject, Change the Format
After contemplating instructors, time limits, handouts, videos, slide layout, room dynamics, music tempos, lighting, temperature and hundreds of other variables it all boils down to one thing – format. Safety training has delivered its boring content in the same format for the past 44 years, since Nixon signed OSHA into law. Most safety trainers deliver training with the mindset that no one in the class has ever seen the training before and they don’t know a thing about the what they are doing. So they start their training the same way every other trainer does – from the beginning. Going over every detail again and again. You don’t do this when you ride a bike, so why do it when you put on your fall protection harness?
Most people are excited to learn new things and that means if we can focus our training on things that you don’t know, then we can raise the level of interest in the subject matter – no matter how boring. How do we do that? By changing the format of training. If we start with knowledge assessment, find what’s missing and then teach the things that participants don’t know, we can not only make any subject matter more interesting we can shorten the amount of time it takes to teach and learn. Not to mention we can take learning to a deeper level. This is exactly what was done in Rapid InService Courses® and it works because adults need to be able to apply knowledge to a useful purpose.