4 Tips for Making Safety Training More Engaging


By Barbara Semeniuk, BSc CRSP

Social Environment in a Classroom TrainingTraining classes on dry subjects such as safety can result in workers with glazed over looks who are counting the hours until the session finishes. Why not make learning fun and incorporate techniques that will engage workers and help them retain what they’re taught?

Training should appeal to hearing, visual and  hands-on learners and ideally incorporate methods suited to the learning styles of all your participants. Here are some tips I recommend.


One engagement technique, called sub-vocalization, involves reading aloud sections of the course you want your workers to remember and having them repeat it back out loud, making notes at the same time. Sub-vocalization is very effective for auditory learners.

Mind Mapping

Another useful technique to improve workers’ note taking is called mind mapping. Here’s how it works: workers draw a circle in the middle of the page and write a central concept inside of it. They then write related topics or points coming from the circle like the spokes of a wheel. Mind mapping is a powerful tool for making complex subjects concrete, simple and visual. It appeals to both workers who learn by doing and visual learners.

Streamline Safety Lessons

Simply put, in this age of television, texting, social media and commercials, attention spans have shortened. As a result, use the 60-20-8 rule to streamline your safety training:

  • No safety training session should be longer than 60 minutes, the maximum attention span that you can expect from most participants;
  • The lessons within any session should be in 20 minute sections; and
  • Every 8 minutes, you should have workers do an exercise or change the pace such as by showing a video to re-grab the workers’ attention and cement their learning.

Encourage Worker Interaction

Socialization techniques can improve workers’ memories and make learning fun, too. For example, when a lesson is complete, have each worker move from his/her seat, meet with a different person in the group and discuss three things they learned from the lesson and how they’re going to apply the lesson to their job. Each worker can also tell the group the most important thing he/she learned during the training session. This approach is a fun and engaging method of encouraging worker interactions in a non-threatening manner.

It’s also a good idea to encourage questions and use a mixture of group and individual exercises to keep the class flowing. And incorporating games or props, such as squeaky toys and dice, can also engage workers in the lesson and with each other. For example, you can have the workers roll dice to determine how much time they’ll get for a break.

In conclusion, using these tips will improve the odds that workers will understand the safety lessons and retain what you’ve taught them. And I guarantee they’ll enjoy your class and you’ll become an “in demand” trainer!

Ms.  Barbara Semeniuk BSc. CRSP is President of Purcell Enterprises Ltd., a loss control management firm that specializes in health and safety auditing, and is a member of the OHS  Insider Board of Advisors. If you wish to discuss this article, call her at 780-951-0867 or email her at bls1284@telus.net.