How to Make Safety Training a Top Priority

Whether you’re a training professional, a veteran of company training, or have just been asked to take over or start up a training program, you have a lot riding on your shoulders so it’s important to make safety training a top priority.


Just think about all the different kinds of training employees need throughout their careers:

  • New employee orientation
  • Lockout/Tagout
  • Sexual harassment
  • Confined spaces
  • Discrimination
  • Emergency procedures
  • Software upgrades
  • Refresher training
  • Hazard communication

You can probably add many more topics to this list. There’s no doubt that employee training is an ongoing need in every company. Unfortunately, however, it’s not always a top priority. As the person now responsible for training in your organization, you can bring employee learning to the top of the priority list—and become a hero in the process.

How can you accomplish such a feat? By turning yourself into a skilled trainer who inspires lifelong learning in company employees at every level and who keeps up-to-date on the ever-changing and always innovative training industry.

Building the Best Training Program will show you how to create—and run—an effective learning program that motivates and trains your workforce to be the best in your industry. This guide is a one-stop resource for all your training needs. Use it to help you become a trainer who makes learning an engaging and enjoyable experience for your trainees.

Employees will look forward to learning new skills and reinforcing old ones, and managers will look forward to the increased profits that your well-trained workforce will produce.

Why Train?

One of the first challenges trainers face is a resistance to training from both employees and management. Employees are frustrated at taking time away from their jobs, and managers aren’t convinced that time spent training is time well-spent.

You can convince both groups that training is crucial by proving to them that training doesn’t take employees away from their work; training is, in fact, a crucial part of their work. In order to remain competitive in today’s global marketplace, it is vital that your company’s workforce maintains the best skills and know-how to produce the best products and services. That means initial training to get up to speed and continual training in all new technologies, systems, or methods that bring more efficiency, more features, and better services.

Conversely, a poorly trained workforce is more likely to turn out poor-quality products. Even if employees receive top-notch initial training, your company can fall behind in the competitive marketplace if employees don’t continue to learn how to do their jobs better.

Training affects the bottom line in every department. Here are just a few examples:

  • Human Resources
    • Legal compliance avoids fines for the company.
    • Career training aids employee retention.
    • Discrimination training avoids costly lawsuits.
    • Harassment training avoids lawsuits.
  • Operations
    • More efficient employees save costs.
    • Training improves productivity—which increases profits.
    • Up-to-date training gives you an edge over competitors.
  • Safety
    • Regulation compliance avoids costly fines.
    • Proper procedures avoid accidents, lost workdays, and workers’ compensation costs.
    • Emergency preparation aids quick evacuation.
    • First Aid training saves lives.

In short, an effective overall learning program for your company is a good return on investment (ROI). In fact, ROI analysis is an integral part of effective training evaluation because it gives specific measurements to the financial impact of training on the company’s bottom line. ROI answers the question “For every dollar the company invests in training, how many dollars does the company get back?”

More Reasons to Train

To justify the need for training in your company, consider that in order to thrive in today’s business world, your company needs to depend on employee education to promote six critical interests:

  1. Effective use of new technology. As technology continues to revolutionize the workplace, employees at all levels and with all degrees of experience rely on training to keep up with changes in their work processes. Due to its importance, this training will require a comprehensive and continuing effort.
  2. Competitive edge in your market. U.S. companies now receive fierce competition from overseas operations. In many cases foreign companies are beating out U.S. firms in quality, cost, and service. In order to remain competitive in the current marketplace, employees need to know how to make better products and services for your market.
  3. Safety and health of employees. In order to have a productive, creative, and committed workforce, employers need to make sure that employees are protected from workplace hazards and given the knowledge and skills they need to work safely. Safety training is a key component of any organization’s productivity and prosperity.
  4. Retention of skilled workers. Skilled and creative employees seek opportunities for career development and personal growth in their jobs. They want the chance to do challenging work and be well-compensated; they also want to be with a company where they can continue to learn and enhance their skills. If they don’t receive adequate training opportunities in their organization, they will find someplace where they can.
  5. Compliance with laws and regulations. Training is frequently required under a variety of government regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for example, requires employers to conduct annual employee training in a number of safety procedures. In other cases, although laws may not require it, training (at least of key employees) is highly advisable to avoid problems (for example, sexual harassment, discrimination, violence prevention, diversity). The cost of not adequately training employees in all of these areas can translate into large fines (for failure to meet the requirements of regulations) or expensive lawsuits (for failing to uphold the rights of protected employees). [See Appendix A: Master Training Guide for 29CFR and Appendix B: Human Resources Training.]
  6. Productivity and profitability. Finally, training makes workers more skilled and knowledgeable, which makes them more productive, better able to meet quality standards, and more able to provide excellent service to customers. Training, therefore, makes organizations more competitive, more profitable, and more successful.

The State of the Training Industry

The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) conducts an annual “State of the Industry” survey, which reveals what companies are doing for training, how much they’re spending, and what they’re reaping in return. Spending on training may fluctuate from year to year, but the overall trend is companies that are more committed to keeping their workforces well-trained and up-to-date see the best returns on their investments.

ASTD’s “State of the Industry” identifies the following training trends:

  1. Company profitability is positively correlated with training expenditures.
  2. Classroom training is steadily decreasing.
  3. Training with learning technologies is steadily increasing.
  4. The outsourcing of training is remaining steady.

The survey also reveals that most companies use all three methods of delivering training in a blended learning approach.