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7 Steps to Improve Your Workplace Safety Training

Would you like to improve your workplace safety training? Does complacency creep in?

repeatsafetyIt’s one thing to talk about workplace safety and how everyone needs to do their part. But it’s another thing entirely when it comes to ensuring all employees are adequately trained with the skills and knowledge to assess their environment and go about their work in a safe manner.

After all the workplace training you do, your staff need to have the right ATTITUDE to complete the tasks in a safe manner and the desire to stay safe all the time, keeping their mind on the job.

I know the effect of a complacent attitude.  I would have been the guy sitting in the back of the toolbox talk, thinking it was all a waste of time.   I don’t believe that anymore.  If my Attitude had been different, I wouldn’t be giving talks around the country on the importance of how it keeps you safe!

With a good attitude and the correct training your employees should:

  • Know how to do the job (without taking shortcuts)
  • What the key steps in the process are
  • What dangers they face throughout the activity, machinery, or process
  • How to avoid these dangers and keep others safe as well

Proper OSHA training is not just about knowledge, but also about application. That is, to actively do what is required of them on a daily basis.

The benefit of having properly trained workers is a noticeable reduction in the number of injuries and deaths, property damage, legal liability, illnesses, workers’ compensation claims, and missed time from work.

An effective workplace safety training program also helps to build a safety culture where employees help promote proper safety in the workplace.


Good workplace safety training will include these 7 steps:

1. Determine Whether Training Is Required

The first thing to do is ask whether training will solve the problem at hand. Training is an effective solution to problems such as a person’s lack of understanding, unfamiliarity with equipment, or incorrect execution of a task. If problems are being caused by a person’s lack of attention, or lack of motivation training is less likely to be effective in fixing the problem.

Also there are times where the situation cannot be corrected through the use of training. Other methods, such as the establishment of engineering controls, may be needed to ensure everyone’s safety.

2. Identify Workplace Safety Training Needs

Once you’ve established the need for training it is necessary to figure out exactly what knowledge needs to be covered (and in what depth) in order to keep workers safe while doing their job.

A risk assessment should be conducted with every employee so that it is understood what they need to do their job safely and what hazards are associated with the job.

A safety trainer may also observe the worker in his/her environment to properly assess the worker’s training needs. Certain employees may need extra training due to the hazards associated with their particular job. These employees should be trained not only on how to perform their job safely but also on how to operate within a hazardous environment.

3. Identify Safety Training Goals and Objectives

After the needs have been identified, you must set learning goals and objectives. These should be clear and measurable, allowing for the training to be evaluated for effectiveness later on.

You want to deliver the objectives using action oriented words like: the employee… “will be able to demonstrate” or “will know when to”… which will help those being trained understand what they should know by the end of the training or what information to assimilate during the class.

Having learning objectives that are specific and detailed allows both employees and the employer to know the expected outcome of any training.

4. Develop Learning Activities for Workplace Safety Training

You need to develop learning activities to support the training goals and objectives. Ideally these activities will include ways for the trainees to show the skills and knowledge they are learning throughout the training. Applying the activities to the worker’s actual job and their job process is extremely beneficial.

Consider which methods, material, and resources will get the message, and objectives, across most effectively. You should also keep in mind the type of training – whether group or one-to-one, etc, making sure it is relevant to the employees and the specific skill set you are training.

It is a good idea to use instructional aids such as charts, manuals, PowerPoint presentations, and films, along with role-playing, live demonstrations, and round-table group discussions to stimulate employee participation.

5. Conduct the Workplace Safety Training

At this point you want to implement the training. Present your training in a clear organised manner. Ensure you provide an overview and relate the training to the employee’s experience.

Ensure you use relative employee training resources to get your message across.

You should show the employees why the material is important and relevant to their jobs, as they are more likely to pay attention and apply what they’ve learned if they know the benefits of the training.

It is helpful to allow employees to get involved and to practice their newly learned skills along the way. This helps to keep them interested, motivated and engaged. Engaging in discussion and hands-on practice also helps employees to retain new information.Try to reinforce the training by summarising the program’s key points and objectives.

6. Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Workplace Training

Once training is concluded, it is vital to evaluate its effectiveness in achieving defined goals and objectives.

There are four ways to conduct an evaluation:

  • Ask the trainees for feedback via questionnaire or informal discussions. This will provide a quick review of initial value and learning outcomes.
  • Follow up with supervisors and their observations about employee behavior before and after the training. This shows whether the training had a noticeable outcome.
  • Use practical and written exams. These also help to evaluate understanding of training material. For example, for a forklift operator, both a written test and a practical exam would identify areas of training that may need to be revisited. To go a step further, using a pre-test and post-test will establish a knowledge base line or reference point to measure training effectiveness.
  • Evaluate workplace data to examine if long term there is a trend toward reduced incident or near miss rates. This will be the bottom-line indicator of a training program’s success rate.

7. Improve Your workplace Safety Program

Use the training program feedback to evaluate your training and for ways to improve things in the future. By revisiting all the steps in the job, and the training you’ve used, you will be in a position to effectively determine whether any gaps exist in your training program.

Some points to consider are:

  • The method chosen; to determine if there is a better way to conduct the training.
  • The presentation of training materials; to determine if it was effective for the audience chosen.
  • The key concepts and skills that were highlighted. If there was a gap, it may be beneficial to review the Risk Assessment to identify any missing components or any new steps added to the process since the training was developed.
  • Revise training as improvements are identified.

We are available as as Additional Employee Training Resource to come speak to your workers to reinforce your safety training program and reiterate the importance of OH&S and how having the right Attitude to training will save lives, prevent injuries and make for a safer workforce.

We also provide safety posters as a reminder of our message and they can be purchased by contacting us.

Helping you reach ‘zero harm’

Hawk Vagg

“Because Safety Matters”


  • You have been given a gift as a Life Saver

    I sat through your presentation yesterday with mixed emotions those of sadness, sorrow, anger… where you can directly and indirectly impact and change the lives of many… you have been given a great gift of a Life Saver to many but at a tremendous personal sacrifice. I have asked myself what could I do for Hawk, my families, peers, colleagues and friends and came up with — Think and act safely in everything I do and ask / tell others to do the same to protect them from harm. 97.8% of our delegates said Hawk’s presentation was excellent / good.

    Rick Alcock, National Manager, Construction Oil & Gas L&H Group
  • Inspired by his words

    Yesterday both myself & Ashlea Wright were invited to attend the Shell Global Safety day at the Pinkenba terminal on behalf of G4S Secure Solutions. As part of the presentation, we were privileged to listen to Hawk Vagg and his story relating to the accident in 1998. Hawk’s powerful and heart wrenching description of the events, & the people affected by that day in 1998, left both myself & Ashlea moved & inspired by his words. Hawk’s message has had a huge impact on my approach to everyday moments in life & highlighted the need to be vigilant & remain safe wherever we are in life, be it at work or home. In conjunction with Shell’s presentation, it was an uplifting & educational approach to what remains a common goal amongst us all – a safe workplace/environment. On behalf of G4S, I would like to thank Shell for extending the invitation. I wish Hawk Vagg continued success with his presentations around the country and personally thank Hawk for raising my safety awareness to a higher level of appreciation. Good Luck Hawk. Thank you all.

    John Broughton Branch Manager QLD G4S Secure Solutions
  • The boys comment about things you made them aware of in your presentation

    Hello Hawk, better late than never, I would like to thank you for the day you spent here on site. As recently as a week ago, some of the boys comment about things you made them aware of in your presentation. The feedback has been very good and attitude to safety awareness have changed for the better. Your posters are a very good reminder for the workers, not just the workers that were there on the day, other workers have commented on them as well. I believe the effects of your visit will assist in keeping the safety awareness on the right track for some time.

    Russelll Mallett, Safety Officer Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Pty Ltd
  • It made a real impact on everyone

    Hi Hawk, I hope you are well. The guys are still talking about your presentation, it made a real impact on everyone. We are making a poster and just wanted to check with you if it was ok to use your “mantra” — “She’ll be right mate, But… what if I am wrong”

    Greg McCluand, Plant Manager, Iplex Pipelines Australia Pty Ltd
  • Choices and consequences

    Hawk shared his story with the Moorvale team and left everyone with a powerful message to stop and think about the choices you make and the consequences they could have on you and the people around you.

    Nicole Challen from Leighton Contractors Moorvale Mine
  • A very relevant and worthwhile experience

    I just wanted to let you know that we had great feedback for Hawk ranging from our Sub-Contractors, Business HSEQ Director and Regional Director. Thank you for assisting with the organisation of what was a very relevant and worthwhile experience.

    Laura Greene Laing O’Rourke OHS – Port Botany
  • I could see it made an impact on the lads

    I just wanted to say that I thought your speech / presentation was brilliant, it was a very hard hitting speech that I could see it made an impact on the lads. I thought it was well delivered and your detailed description of the accident really hit home. I was especially moved by the aftermath of your accident and the way it’s affected you and your life.

    Neil O’Donnell, H&S Advisor Port Botany Laing O’Rourke
  • I took away some personal reflections and timely reminders

    I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and thanks for your heart-felt and very personal presentations here for us at Toowoomba Regional Council. I have received very positive feedback from attendees at both sessions you delivered last Wednesday. Overall, I took away some personal reflections and ‘timely reminders’ to remember about some of the decisions we make in life, especially around keeping safe both personally and for those around us.

    Andy Van der Syde – Toowoomba Regional Council, Senior Organisational Development Officer
  • You are an inspiration

    Hi Hawk! Thanks so much for speaking with us today at Pacific Seeds. It made a huge impact and I’ve already had many staff members tell me how beneficial the talk was and that it really made them think. We’ve even got a worker who has now decided to call the professionals at home to do a job that her and her husband had planned to do this weekend. You are an inspiration and I look forward to seeing you in the near future for phase 2.

    Michelle Lennox, Occupational Health & Safety Office of the Toowoomba Branch of Pacific Seeds
  • Accolades and praise for Hawk Vagg’s safety presentation

    In short — bloody awesome Hawk was fantastic. He was extremely professional but also down to earth and realistic. They presented and pitched the session at exactly the right level for the audience. I am sure Hawk was able to “turn on a few lights” as I like to say. I know that some of the audience, particularly the younger workers, found it confronting initially but with Hawk’s style and honesty everyone left the room with a stronger resolve to take the actions they need to in their work fronts.

    Mike Tierney, CMC
  • Your message was very clear

    Hi Hawk, I would like to thank you for coming to our project recently to deliver your powerful safety message from your own personal experience to our BSO project employees, the message of complacency, not looking after yourself and your workmates was very clear with the outcome if you carry out an unsafe act it will change your family, friends and your life forever. The days you were here on site changed the way people looked at the safety of themselves and others and has continued since you left, your name and circumstance is often raised out in the field by the employees, at prestart and induction to site. Thanks once again and will see you again on another job.

    Regards Russell Barham | Lead EHS Specialist. Broadmeadow Sustaining Operations Project Site Address: Gate 18, Red Hill Road, PMB Moranbah QLD 474
  • I enjoyed your talk

    I enjoyed your talk and will stop and think about what you said next when going to cut corners.

    Nathan Otago

    Hi mate! or should I say LEGEND! I had a bad day yesterday dealing with stuff, Thought I had it bad! I was speechless listening to your journey! Mate you will forever be in my thoughts.

    Masey Jase
  • You could have heard a pin drop,

    Hi Hawk, I would like to thank you on behalf of Bechtel Equipment Services Gladstone for coming to our yard recently. Your presentation sent a powerful safety message to our employees from your own personal experiences. You could have heard a pin drop, the employees were so intentive. You really brought home the message of safety. We are looking forward to your next presentation.

    Bechtel Equipment Services Gladstone
  • Mate you are an insperation keep it up.,

    Hi Hawk. I felt compeled to contact you after hearing you speak to us at Commodore mine Millmerran on the 29/05/13. Mate keep telling your story if it saves one person suffering what you have gone through it will be a good outcome. Made me stop and think, Hawk i have done the same thing that you did and got away with it pure luck on my part. Mate you are an insperation keep it up.

    Regards Les Goodall