engaging safety induction

All organisations have a duty to onboard new employees, but many fail to deliver an engaging safety induction. New employees need to understand the risks and hazards associated with working in their role in your organisation. And it would help if you consider that your new employees may have little experience in your organisation’s working environment because they are possibly moving into a new industry or this is their first job.

The problem with workplace training, and particularly the safety induction, is that it is often delivered as ‘death by PowerPoint’ with text-heavy slides. Sadly, some organisations deliver online the same safety induction that they use in the classroom. They use the same PowerPoint slides that are likely to be in the hundreds. And, some online safety induction training is merely a text-based manual placed online with multiple-choice questions. In these instances, there is no accommodation for workers with poor literacy or where English is not their primary language.

Delivering training using this method goes against all adult learning principles that encourage an engaging safety induction. After all, you want your new employees to remember what you train and you need the learning to transfer into safe practice.

This article discusses what should go into an engaging safety induction, not only to meet compliance obligations but also to ensure your new employees understand workplace hazards and how to keep themselves and others safe. Also, this is the time that you can demonstrate the importance that your organisation places on safety as your new employees start their journey within your organisation’s safety culture.

The Safety Induction Nuts and Bolts

The role of the safety induction for new employees is to ensure they understand the work environment that they are about to enter. The challenge is to cover all the information as succinctly and thoroughly as you can and to make the training an engaging safety induction that your new employees remember.

Here is a list of the main areas that your safety induction should cover and generally this is where you would begin. You must

  • Inform your new employees about the hazards and risks in their workplace
  • Link to your organisation’s health and safety policies and procedures and achieve a sign-off that they have read and understood them
  • Emphasise the importance of safe work practices in the work that they do and their responsibility to keep themselves and others safe
  • Stress the responsibility your employees have in reducing incidents and accidents
  • Present your workplace’s rules about smoking, breaks, your code of conduct and fitness for work
  • Outline the procedures for reporting incidents and injuries and near misses
  • Instruct about the evacuation and emergency procedures for your workplace, including emergency exits, evacuation instructions, assembly points and the use of fire alarms and fire fighting equipment
  • Inform your employees about first aid and other emergency contacts
  • Provide information on your Employee Assistance Program and where your employees can seek help for mental health concerns
  • Train your employees on workplace bullying and how to interact with others
  • Inform your employees on the types of Personal Protective Equipment they will need to perform their work.

See our article, How to Create a Safety Induction That Trains and Meets Compliance.

High-Risk Industries Induction Content

If your organisation requires your new employees to perform high-risk tasks, the next section of your safety induction should cover all areas that may create workplace hazards in more detail. For example, you may need to include information on slips, trips and falls, manual handling, working around powered mobile plant, handling and storage of chemicals, isolation and lock-out procedures, suspended loads, signage, confined space and working at height.

You may also need to devote a section of your safety induction to environmental hazards such as working around native flora and fauna, Aboriginal heritage, chemical spills and waste management and ground disturbance.

Another area that you should include in your safety induction is a discussion on fitness for work that covers areas such as fatigue (physical and mental), sleep, medication and alcohol consumption, working hours and mental health.

Creating an Engaging Safety Induction

It’s no good if you spend hours and hours developing your safety induction content, packed full of information if your new employees are drifting off after the first ten minutes. The problem you have is that so many organisation’s safety inductions are so similar that your new employees often feel they’ve seen and done all of this before. Their only thought is “How can I get through this as quickly as possible?” when the whole purpose of your safety induction is to prepare them to work for you.

There are some things you can do to create an engaging safety induction including:

  1. Using lots of visuals. Try to avoid heavy text-based training because it’s difficult to read and absorb the information, especially if your employees have literacy issues. Instead, use visuals such as videos, photos, diagrams and charts to portray the message wherever you can.
  2. Telling stories. Wrapping the information in stories and metaphors helps to provide lived experience and an emotional connection to the information. When we emotionally connect to something, we remember the message.
  3. Using positive language.  Your new employees are just starting work with you, and you need your safety induction to be a positive experience. Try to tell them what they can do, rather than what they can’t.
  4. Trying participative learning methods. Too often, safety inductions are passive learning experiences. If you are training in the classroom, try to use active demonstrations and ask your new employees to have a try themselves where you can.  Ask them about their own experiences and how they relate to the training.  If you are training online, you can create an engaging safety induction by using gaming techniques with puzzles, games and quizzes.
  5. Using robust assessments. Your safety induction must have a robust assessment that is not just multiple choice where you choose 3 out of 4 of the answers or “All of the Above”. Using these types of tests sends a message that the training is not valued or important to your company. Try to mix up your assessment to include a variety of quiz formats because this will improve the message recall and retention.
  6. Keeping your training succinct. Shorter training delivery is not a sin, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t cover all that you need. Too often we see safety inductions crammed full of information to make the organisation look good. Invariably, short, sharp deliveries that get to the point and deliver critical information, usually result in better learning retention.

See our article, 6 Reasons to Use MicroLearning to Train Safety.

Moving Your Safety Induction Training Online

You can achieve an engaging safety induction training experience by using technology to deliver it online. You not only save time, money but you and also gain consistency in the messaging. When you rely on a face-to-face delivery, you cannot control the content or the delivery method and inconsistency can creep in. Most importantly, you can create an engaging and immersive experience that has been shown to improve knowledge retention.

There are several options to moving your safety induction training online. You can use online platforms that provide templates for you to create your content and assessments. These software platforms are generally inexpensive; however, they require a considerable amount of your time to develop the content, and you need to be mindful of the quality of the materials that you upload.

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum which is using VR and AR technology to provide a fully immersive experience. Generally, the training content is engaging and interactive; however, these platforms are expensive to create content, require facilitation to use the hardware and dedicated training spaces.

I Don’t Have Time to Build Our Safety Induction!

Safety and training professionals are time-poor, and the thought of building a safety induction or facilitating a VR experience is often overwhelming. Thankfully, Tap into Safety can help because we can custom-build your safety induction training for you to use online, on tablets or incorporate into your classroom learning.

We use an engaging training method that includes 360-degree panoramic scenes, animated micro-learning, videos, audio and subtitles, reduced text, and robust assessment on controls and critical controls. Our training has the end-user in mind the whole time, and we support workers with low-literacy or English as a secondary language. We save you time and money, and there is no need to facilitate the learning.

We even have out-of-the-box training courses that cover all your safety induction requirements that can also be modified to suit your company needs, including

We also have a module on COVID-19 and Your Workplace!

Because of the modularised nature of our training Platform, you can include the courses that you want at any time and even use them as refresher training every year to ensure ongoing competence and compliance. We do the hard work for you to develop numerous versions of your Online Safety Induction to cover General Employees, Visitors, Contractors or Site, Area or Role–Specific requirements.

Why not visit our website and take a look at some of the training courses we offer that you can use in your safety induction training or contact us about developing custom-built content? You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the low cost.

See our article, No Time to Deliver Safety Induction Training.

To Conclude

When bringing new people into your organisation, you need to provide an engaging safety induction to ensure their safety and that of your other employees. At this time, you can also demonstrate the importance that your organisation places on health and safety to start their journey within your safety culture. The problem that many organisations face is how to develop an engaging safety induction, mainly when they rely on PowerPoint deliveries in the classroom or online.  So many organisations develop safety inductions that are almost the same, and in doing so, they fail their new employees fail to retain important safety information.

There are several steps you can take to make an engaging safety induction, including using visuals, storytelling, lived-experience, interactivity, and robust, varied assessments. It’s critical that you keep your induction training succinct and not overload with text-heavy information because your new employees will very quickly disengage and the learning will cease. Moving your safety induction online is a great time and money saver, however, you need to be careful about the content you use and not fall into the trap of online death by PowerPoint. Your aim should be to transition the learning in your safety induction into safe workplace practice.

This article is also available on the Tap into Safety podcast.

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