When you are the Safety Manager of a facility with domiciled locations, workers that never come into the main office, or those who work remotely, you need to be creative to reach them with your safety message.
There are a few things to consider when training remotely.
- The safety-sensitive nature of their work
- The frequency that gets you the behavior change you need.
It is very tempting to clump all the safety training for remote workers into one big meeting. Yes, this will meet any compliance requirements. But considering that research has shown that most workers retain less than 30% of the materials in a single training session, how well will they retain all the details you are including is one large session?
The frequency of safety meetings
The frequency of your safety training should match the safety-sensitive nature of their work. For higher-risk jobs, daily or weekly may be needed; where office jobs may only need monthly or quarterly training.
Keep in mind that the more frequent your training, even with office staff, the better your safety culture will be. If you have to decrease the frequency because, let’s say, a virus has you physically distancing, then supplement your trainings with short safety messages or awareness reminders.
When to increase the frequency
You can also look to your trending to determine if the frequency of your training is working. If you are seeing a bad trend in safety behaviors, increase your frequency. Keep playing with this until you get to a point where trending and culture are steady.
Ideas for conducting safety meetings for remote workers
When they coming in for meetings
Most operations will do a monthly or quarterly sales/drivers meeting or get their entire staff together for an “all hands” type meeting. You can sneak your safety training into here.
You going to them
When I was the Safety Director for 22+ locations, I created a plan to visit all domiciled locations, even those with only 2 employees at least once per quarter. You can clump the visits into regions if the locations are close enough.
Safety meetings off the back of a pick-up truck can be just as effective as in a classroom.
It is important that all employees, even those in other states, see that safety is there for them.
This is where you give the remote employee information to study and have them take a quiz on the information. You can do this in the form of a long article printed out with a 5-10 questions quiz they return for credit.
There are so many new applications out there to do safety training on your phone or through a website. Although these don’t have the personal touch of the Safety Manager or they may not be site-specific they can be very effective and sometimes harder than what you can come up with.
The problem with this method is when your employees are not tech-savvy or have issues with logging into multiple systems. So keep that in mind.
For less safety-sensitive positions you can put all your safety information into one workbook that you give them annually. The workbook would consist of self-study materials and quizzes. You give them deadlines for when each is due and turned in.
You can do the same with computerized training. Set an annual training plan in your training portal and schedule deadlines for when each module is due.
Now that Zoom has gained popularity. This program is wonderful to use for remote safety meetings. The advantage of the video conferencing is that you are able to see who is attending and keep their attention. It also allows them to ask you questions.
If you can’t see them in person, giving them an opportunity to listen to you or call you is also an option. Set up a day/time and distribute the phone number. Employees can listen in and ask questions while you verbally review your safety topic.
Over the last several years, podcasts have gained popularity as well. There is now technology where a company can have a private podcast that only subscribers can access. This will allow you to put your training into audio format and deliver it to all your employees through their favorite podcast app.
You can then have them submit that they listened or have them take a quiz to measure their understanding.
Don’t Ignore Your Remote Workers
Just because these remote workers are easy to reach, does not mean that you can ignore their safety training or give them less training. Keep trying different ways to include them until you come up with one that works well.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Comment below and share your favorite method for training your remote workers.
Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world. I would love to help you too.