Here in Minneapolis, it is cold – which means the winter training season is upon us. This is the time of year that most construction companies experience slower work due to the cold temperatures. Many sites close down when the air temperature is colder than -10 or -20. As with any safety training endeavor, it can be tough to capture the learner’s attention and hold it. Every season, safety professionals must step up their game to engage their employees in learning, and most importantly to ensure they RETAIN what they learn for when work picks up again in the spring. The winter season can last from two to four months, depending on the weather, so there can be significant lag time between learning new or refreshed safety information and actually applying it on a worksite. Here are 4 ideas to enhance your winter training:
1. Engage the learner from the FIRST minute of class. Use a relevant local news story or an actual incident from your 2014 OSHA 300 Log. Try one of the WorksafeBC YouTube videos or your own photos or video. I’m not suggesting shock and awe, unless that’s something your audience responds to, which reminds me…
2. Know your audience. Do not teach beginner basic skills and material to seasoned veterans of the trade. Tailor your training to your audience – especially if you know you have a pretty homogenous group as in the case of new hire orientation, site orientation, or when teaching a new skill. For mixed groups, identify your veterans and ask them to enhance the class with their knowledge.
3. Facilitate hands-on activities. If you have read previous blog posts, you already know the importance of developing learning objectives. From those objectives, identify ways that you can get students out of their chairs. I will expand on this idea in a future post. Conduct rescue drills, lead students through the inspection of a piece of equipment, or have students teach parts of the class.
4. Question the learners outside of the classroom. When spring starts and workers are back out on projects, take the time to ask your former students about the information they learned in your classroom over winter. This is a great way to gauge their retention and understanding as well as provide an opportunity for the student to demonstrate their knowledge or ask further questions about the information. This is an important part of management by walking around.
Bonus tip – Incentivize employee retention of information learned during the winter training season. If your company has an incentive program, provide on-the-spot rewards for employees who are able to successfully recall, explain or demonstrate what they learned during winter training.
Good luck and stay safe!