Resources - Education and Training

Developing Learning Activities

Learn by Doing!

Once the objectives for the training are precisely stated, then learning activities can be identified and described. Learning activities are important for a number of reasons:

  • They enable employees to demonstrate that they have acquired the desired skills and knowledge
  • They help ensure that employees effectively transfer the skills or knowledge from the training session to the job
  • They help make training more interesting, increase motivation to learn

Simulate the Job

To ensure employees transfer the adequate knowledge and skills from the learning activity to the job, the learning situation should simulate the actual job as closely as possible. Thus, you may want to arrange the objectives and activities in a sequence that corresponds to the order in which the tasks are to be performed on the job, if a specific process is to be learned. For instance, if an employee must learn the beginning processes of using a machine, the sequence might be:

  1. to check that the power source is connected;
  2. to ensure that the safety devices are in place and are operative;
  3. to know when and how to throw the switch; and so on.

Important Questions

A few factors will help to determine the type of learning activity to be incorporated into the training. You may want to ask some very important questions to determine what type of learning activity will best meet your objectives:

  • Will the employer make necessary training resources available.
  • Can a group training program that uses an outside trainer and film be organized
  • Should the employer personally train the employees on a one-to-one basis?
  • Is the learning oriented toward physical skills (such as the use of special tools) or toward mental processes and attitudes?

These factors, and others will influence the type of learning activity designed by employers. The training activity may be group-oriented, including lectures, role-play and demonstrations; or designed for the individual as with self-paced instruction.

The determination of methods and materials for the learning activity can be as varied as your imagination and available resources will allow. You may want to use charts, diagrams, manuals, slides, films, viewgraphs (overhead transparencies), videotapes, audiotapes, or simply blackboard and chalk, or any combination of these and other instructional aids. Whatever the method of instruction, learning activities should be developed in such a way that the employees can clearly demonstrate that they have acquired the desired knowledge and skills.

Training Presentation Strategies

You now know basically what subjects to employees, but which presentation strategy is going to work best for you? Let's take a look at several alternatives:

  • Formal classroom training. In many cases, formal training in-house or from an external source can get learners trained quickly when needed. Classroom training is best if the class is composed of students from different departments or facilities.
  • On-the-job training (OJT). OJT Considered the best overall training strategy since most safety training requires that employees demonstrate (prove) adequate knowledge and skill to perform procedures and practices. Remember, employees must be trained before exposed! Conducting a simulated procedure or task in the learning environment is really the only way you can certify adequate knowledge and skills to perform hazardous tasks without exposure the employee to actual hazards.
  • Mini training sessions. This methods is perhaps the best method to keep employees up on the latest changes to OSHA standards and changes in company policy, procedures, and rules. Mini training sessions, tail-gate meetings, and safety meetings can be as short as five minutes or up to 30 minutes.
  • Computer based training (CBT). This is growing in popularity because employees can fit short training sessions on the computer into their busy schedules at work or at home. To meet the intent of OSHA law, CBT needs to include opportunities for interaction with a qualified trainer (like OSHA online training). Note: Be careful not to rely solely on CBT when training procedures and practices that are hazardous. CBT will not be adequate. Make sure opportunities for communicating via email, video-conference, or on-site interaction is incorporated into any CBT strategy.

Three important considerations

No matter the training strategy used, it's important to make sure employees get practice before they are actually exposed to hazards in the work environment. Some of the key requirements are stated or implied in OSHA rules. Three of the most important are:

  • Demonstration. Workers should demonstrate that they have both the knowledge and ability to perform a task safely before they are allowed to begin work.
  • Retraining. Any time the supervisor thinks a worker has inadequate knowledge or ability to perform a task safely, that worker should receive retraining.
  • Certification. Safety training should be certified. In most instances a mere attendance roster will not be considered adequate documentation.

Methods and Media

Hands-on training is usually quite effective in training because it uses a simulated work environment that permits each student to have experience performing tasks, making decisions, or using equipment appropriate to the job assignment before they are exposed to actual workplace hazards. To ensure that employees transfer the skills or knowledge from the learning activity to the job, the learning situation should simulate the actual job as closely as possible.

Determining methods and materials for learning activities can be as varied as your imagination and available resources will allow. You may want to think about using:

charts diagrams role play
instruments props exercises
overheads videos question/answer
flipcharts dry erase boards case studies

Whatever the method of instruction, learning activities should be developed in such a way that you can clearly demonstrate learners have acquired the desired skills or knowledge.

Sequencing - Don't put the cart before the horse

Sequencing training content and material is almost as important as the content itself. And, it can defeat the purpose of a training program if it is not carefully thought out. Trainers should be concerned about the logical sequencing of training, because if the lesson does not unfold in a building, reinforcing way, learning may be less effective. Consider the following basic sequencing strategies:

  1. General to the specific. Move gradually to the many and varied specific on-the-job applications of the concepts discussed. For instance, all of these topics may be effectively taught using this strategy:

    • characteristics of chemicals
    • identifying hazards
    • controlling hazards
    • incentive/recognition programs
  2. Simple to the complex. The design begins with a fairly simple conceptual overview of the subject to be learned. In our lockout/tagout training, we might talk about how to "lock out" a coffee maker before covering lockout procedures for a more complicated machine. As an example, all of these topics may be effectively taught using this strategy:

    • analyzing incidents and accidents
    • machine guarding techniques
    • problem solving methods
    • responding to emergencies
  3. Theory to practical application. You might introduce learners about general energy sources before covering more specific sources of energy expected while conducting lockout/tagout procedures. All of these topics are among those that may be effectively taught using this strategy:

    • safety management strategies
    • employing engineering controls
    • evaluating safety programs
    • safety accountability
  4. Known to unknown concepts, ideas, or processes. For instance, we all know machinery requires some form of energy to work, but in many instances, we may not realize that multiple energy sources involved. Once again, these topics, and many others, may be effectively taught using this strategy:

    • analyzing incidents and accidents
    • machine guarding techniques
    • problem solving methods
    • responding to emergencies
  5. Step by Step. For On-the-Job Training (OJT), sequence the content so that it corresponds to the steps of the task. Of course, when we train lockout/tagout procedures, it's very important to perform all steps correctly in their proper order.

Develop Training Materials

If a number of trainers are expected to present the training, you may want to prepare a trainer’s guide that brings all aspects of the training course into a readily usable form. The trainer's guide would include a course outline for each instructional block and a program of instruction for the entire course. Be sure to include reference materials and a list of additional resources that might be useful in presenting the course.

Source: OSHAcademy

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Copyright ©2000-2016 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Students may reproduce materials for personal study. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).