Choose Your Content and Training Methods Carefully
Every orientation must contain specific pieces of content dictated by state and federal law. You must choose whether you want to directly cover OSHA or if you want to incorporate the state and federal OSHA requirements into your own policies, programs, and procedures. (See OSHA Training Requirements for General Industry, Maritime, Construction, Agriculture, Federal Employee Programs.)
As previously discussed, your content will reflect your organization’s policies, regulations, and culture. So while there’s a similar thread running through all health and safety orientation, the details will differ from company to company and even site to site.
Find Your Training Delivery Tools
Beyond the information provided, it’s up to you to determine how you deliver the training. While online learning has come leaps and bounds in the past ten years, some companies still choose to deliver training in-person in a classroom-style every time. You may also browse methods like presentations, videos, or interactive training depending on your requirements and resources.
To start finding a direction, you may find it useful to review some of the research on effective training methods for your goals and even your industry.
- One study found that using methods like hands-on training and behavioral modeling produced better knowledge acquisition among workers. These methods were also correlated with a drop in accidents and injuries.
- Another study from Taiwan showed that construction workers found both high learning effectiveness and general satisfaction when using e-learning methods.
Other training delivery tools can include:
- group meetings
- self-guided exercises
- video presentations
- reading materials
- guest speakers
- key coworker interviews
Note: You can make the training your own. However, remember your OSHA requirements: you must provide the training in a format the employee can understand (language, literacy, educational level, and vocabulary).
Set the Flow with Pacing and Sequencing
There’s nothing worse than spending three straight days reviewing health and safety regulations. It’s boring for new hires; it’s exhausting for you. And it stops workers from getting out into their new roles.
To make orientation more digestible, it’s better to see health and safety orientation as an ongoing process rather than a big event. You can then pace the training in a way that makes sense for your program while supporting workers along the way.
Do keep in mind that some training must start before employees can start performing their tasks. You can’t ask them to start work or risk exposure to a hazard without the right training. So, you’ll need to knock out work hazards, PPE, and emergency procedures right away.
It’s also helpful to show them safe behaviors for their task prior to letting them out into the field. Everyone wins when workers know the safe way to work from day zero rather than waiting to be corrected.
Ultimately, pacing and sequence will depend on industry and role. A few tips for setting up a schedule include:
- Build in time to provide a warm welcome. Don’t get straight into the training without first engaging with them.
- Give workers the tools to move around the building and through orientation safely first.
- Set expectations early (company policies and rules).
Provide Evaluation and Feedback
You set goals, so you need to determine whether or not you met them by evaluating the results of your program. Use feedback and evaluation to assess employee readiness and the strength of your program.
Ideally, you’ll provide regular feedback as orientation progresses. You can get qualitative and quantitative feedback from them. Using skill tests will demonstrate things like the effectiveness of your manual handling training.
However, you can also get qualitative data by asking them:
- Do you know what’s expected of you?
- How comfortable do you feel reaching out to coworkers with questions?
- Do you know where to go to problem-solve?
- Are you aware of what resources are available to do your job?
These high-level questions demonstrate both readiness and the quality of your program because more than anything, they identify whether an employee feels self-sufficient or is at least on the road to self-sufficiency. However, they are only indicators. New hires get a truer sense of their preparedness after being out in the field.
Once they start work, you can re-ask these questions or go deeper. You might ask:
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- Did you feel prepared for the past few days of work?
- What resources did you feel you needed? What resources were missing?
- Where do you go to find what you need?