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Trainer Roles and Responsibilities

How not to train from 1944.

Role = Vision: Responsibilities = Mission

Let's define the term. The "role" you play is a term that describes who you are. In the workplace, your role is usually described as a position. You may be the employer, a manager, supervisor, trainer, and/or a safety committee member. And, it's likely you will play more than one role at the same time.

Each role that you play confers upon you certain responsibilities and expectations by others (what they believe to be your mission). The role you play at work sets certain boundaries of acceptable behavior within the workplace. A popular superstar may behave in a manner that you or I would not consider appropriate because, well, that's what they are.

Safety Trainer Roles

Now, let's focus on the various roles a trainer might play. The Association for Talent Development (ATD) study, Models for Excellence, listed the following roles that trainers typically perform:

  1. Evaluator: Identifying the extent of the impact of a safety training program.
  2. Facilitator: Managing group discussion and group process.
  3. Counselor: Helping an employee assess personal safety competencies, values, and goals.
  4. Writer: Preparing written learning and instructional materials.
  5. Instructor: Presenting safety information and directing structured learning experiences.
  6. Manager: Planning, organizing, staffing, controlling safety training and development operations/projects.
  7. Marketer: Selling safety training and development viewpoints, programs, and services.
  8. Media Specialist: Producing audio-visual materials for safety training.
  9. Analyst: Defining gaps between ideal and actual safety performance and specifying the cause of the gaps.

Safety Trainer Roles (Continued)

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) study, Models for Excellence, also listed the following roles that trainers typically perform:

  1. Program Administrator: Ensuring that the facilities, equipment, materials, participants are present and that program logistics run smoothly.
  2. Designer: Preparing objectives, defining content, and selecting and sequencing activities for specific safety training.
  3. Strategist: Developing long-range plans for safety training and development.
  4. Task Analyst: Identifying safety-related activities to attain specific results.
  5. Theoretician: Developing and testing theories of learning, training, and development.
  6. Transfer Agent: Helping individuals apply new safety-related learning to their work.

Unfortunately, the only role that is not listed in the ASTD study is that of a "Leader." Trainers perform the role of leader by setting the proper example of professionalism not only in the classroom, but in the workplace as well.

ANSI Z490.1-2016 Instructor Qualifications


According to ANSI Z490.1-2016, trainers should be "competent" in developing and implementing the various elements of a safety training program. Trainers can gain competency by achieving an appropriate level of technical knowledge, skills, and abilities in the subjects they teach. They can gain these skills through training, continuing education and, of course, on the job experience.

Trainers should be competent in effective safety training delivery techniques and methods that are appropriate to employee learning preferences. They should be able to apply adult learning principles appropriate to the target audience and the learning objectives.

It's important to document trainer competency by maintaining course completion certificates, experience records, licensing, and other documents. The methods used to document trainer competency is left to the discretion of the employer.

Source: ANSI/ASSE Z490.1-2016, para 5.1 Trainer Criteria

OSHA Guidelines for Instructor Competency


OSHA's safety and health requirements frequently use specific terms to identify the different categories of workers who must meet specific training requirements.

  • A Certified person has successfully completed specialized training and the training has been certified in writing by a professional organization.
  • A Designated person has received extensive training in a particular task and is assigned by the employer to perform that task in specific operations.
  • An Authorized person is permitted by an employer to be in a regulated area or assigned by an employer to perform a specific task or to be in a specific location at a jobsite. For example: Only authorized employees are allowed to perform lockout/tagout procedures.
  • A Competent person is someone who has broad knowledge of worksite safety and health issues, is capable of identifying existing and predictable worksite hazards, and has management approval to control the hazards. For instance: Only a competent person can supervise erecting, moving, or dismantling scaffolds at a worksite, for example.
  • A Qualified person is someone who, through training and professional experience, has demonstrated the ability to resolve problems relating to a specific task or process. For example, an individual may be qualified to perform electrical circuit tests but not qualified to perform hydraulic pressure tests.

Trainer Qualifications


Instructors should be deemed competent on the basis of the criteria below:

  1. Previous documented experience in their area of instruction. Job descriptions, performance appraisals, statements by co-workers or managers would help document previous experience.
  2. Successful completion of a "train-the-trainer" program specific to the topics they will teach. A typical train-the-trainer course will discuss best practices in adult training principles, and provide an opportunity to practice presenting instruction and training in the subject area they will be expected to train.
  3. An evaluation of instructional competence by the Training Director. If you don't have a training director, the Human Resource Manager or other qualified trainer may conduct an evaluation of the instructor's training skills.

1910.120(e)(5) Qualifications for trainers. Trainers shall be qualified to instruct employees about the subject matter that is being presented in training. Such trainers shall have satisfactorily completed a training program for teaching the subjects they are expected to teach, or they shall have the academic credentials and instructional experience necessary for teaching the subjects. Instructors shall demonstrate competent instructional skills and knowledge of the applicable subject matter.

Trainer Evaluation and Annual Review

Instructors should be required to maintain professional competency by participating in continuing education or professional development programs or by successfully completing an annual refresher course and having an annual review by a training director or other competent manager.

The annual review should include observation of an instructor's delivery, a review of those observations with the trainer, and an analysis of any instructor or class evaluations completed by the students during the previous year.

Source: 1910.120 App E, Training Curriculum Guidelines - (Non-mandatory)

Management Involvement

First-line supervisors and managers play a crucial role in safety and health protection because of their responsibility for workers and for the work being performed. Effective training of supervisors and managers will address their safety and health management responsibilities as well as information on hazards, hazard prevention, and response to emergencies. Although they may have other safety and health responsibilities, supervisors and managers should be fully involved in training safety to send a strong message of personal leadership.

Bottom line: If managers and supervisors can't train safety, how in the world can they manage it?


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. The role you play tells others something about _____.

2. Which of the following roles is involved with helping an employee assess personal safety competencies, values, and goals?

3. The only role that is not listed in the ASTD study is that of a ______________.

4. According to ANSI Z490.1-2016, trainers should be able to apply ______________ appropriate to the target audience and the learning objectives.

5. According to OSHA guidelines on Instructor Competencies, this term applies to trainers who have successfully completed specialized training and the training has been certified in writing by a professional organization.

6. According to 1910.120 App E, Training Curriculum Guidelines, the annual review of trainer skills should include ________.

7. Supervisors and managers should be fully involved in training safety to ___________.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.