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Reinforcement Hits The Mark In Safety Training

Safety training is essential to equip employees with the required skills and knowledge to safely do their work. It is equally important to reinforce safety training at regular intervals to maintain the safety culture at your workplace.

Human beings tend to forget what they have learned, unless it is regularly reinforced. This is validated by Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve which states that learners will forget 90% of what they have learnt in the first month. Fortunately, Ebbinghaus had a solution to this problem; he discovered that information is easier to recall if it is regularly reinforced.

This is relevant to safety training, as your employees are likely to forget the rules and regulations and safety procedures unless it is regularly reinforced. Added to this, if no accident occurs at your workplace, you might consider it fortunate, but with this comes the risk of both the employees and the management becoming complacent and sometimes throwing safety to the winds. It is therefore important to use reinforcement techniques at regular intervals to avoid such situations.

Reinforcement Practices

Hold regular safety meetings:  These meetings will give you an opportunity to review the safety procedures and methods that were taught during training. Their review during safety meetings will help employees remember and focus on safe ways to do their work. Holding regular safety meetings will also drive home the point that safety is an important aspect of work.

Printed resources:  A written safety program that covers safety procedures and unsafe behaviors and procedures and ways to prevent them is effective in reinforcing safety. This is a convenient source for employees to find, recall, and relearn safe behaviors. If this printed resource is available online and can be accessed on mobile devices, it gives employees the convenience of accessing it anytime and anywhere. Even better if they are converted into microlearning assets, this will make them easy to remember and act as ready reference for performance support.

Daily safety messages: These messages give an opportunity to reinforce what is taught in your regular safety meetings. Employees can be given a safety message at the beginning of each shift. It can be a short and crisp message on a topic or behavior that will help make the workday safe. The focus should be on topics that will help prevent injuries This again can be offered online and on multiple devices that employees access.

Safety surveys: Conducting regular or random safety surveys or conducting safety audits will help you find and correct hazardous conditions. This will help reinforce safety behavior because it makes employees review the safety measures that are followed and help them identify potentially unsafe conditions. Surveys hosted on the LMS will make the task of conducting safety audits easy.

Role of supervisors: Those who understand the importance of safety and are well-versed in safety procedures can help to reinforce safe behavior. They can observe the workforce and correct unsafe conditions and behavior and have the authority to stop such behavior. Appreciation for safe behavior can also help in immediate reinforcement.

Rewards: Rewarding workers for safe behavior motivates them to be careful and cautious. Providing them with goals to reduce accidents, or their severity or to be accident free helps them re-learn about safe behavior. A safety incentive, such as genuine praise from the boss for following safety rules makes them more receptive to corrective feedback. This feedback that is meaningful to employees has helped reduce the frequency of accidents and their cost. Incentives that reward employees as a group motivate them to work together safely, look out for each other and follow rules of safe behavior.

Regular monitoring: Reinforcement also requires that you regularly monitor the progress of your employees after the training to understand how well they are implementing the safety practices specific to their jobs.

Positive reinforcement:  It is defined by behavioral scientists as any action that follows a behavior that increases the chances of the behavior occurring again. Positive reinforcement in safety training is supervisors appreciating employees for adhering to safety rules and making a difference.

Positive reinforcement is crucial for reinforcing safety behaviors and continued achievement of safety goals. This can be done with the right feedback. It helps employees understand how well they are adhering to their safety goals. It helps them to modify their efforts to reach the goal.

Safety training cannot be a once and done affair. It requires sustained reinforcement if safety has to be adhered to. This will reflect the organization’s commitment to safety, to lowering accident and injury rates and in turn improving employee morale and productivity.

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