The goal of safety training ought to be to enable workers to learn the material and retain it for use in the workplace to prevent injuries, illnesses, and property damage. Workers that learn the material and don't retain it are likely to commit unsafe acts or allow hazards to exist. In either case, not retaining the material can lead to illnesses, injuries, and property damage. Like many of you, I sat through classes over the years with experts that I thought would provide me with answers to my job's most challenging safety hazards. Unfortunately, I took little or nothing away. I think safety expert Sharon Bowman has it right. She says the bottom line in training is to "give it to them so they get it" (Bowman, 2003). "Giving information to a student so they "get it" takes innovation, which I define as a desire to do things differently, through activity, with the student in mind, while making every effort to ensure the learning material is accessible" (Fiori and Fanning, 2014).
As safety trainers, we must recognize that adults should not be taught like children because they come to training with a lot of life experiences. Furthermore, readers come to this paper with life experiences and some knowledge about how adults learn. This paper is an opportunity for the reader to build on what they already know or perhaps change it to something that works better (Fanning, 2009). Grimaldi and Simonds identified providing education and training as one of the most important steps in carrying out a logical and orderly safety and health program (Grimaldi and Simonds, 1993). If done right, this important step will allow workers and management to know what their roles and responsibilities are in providing training that workers retain.
Adults are trained by a number of methods in addition to lecture. "Job rotations, special assignments, reflecting on the experience, coaching, and counseling, mentoring, manager as teacher, learning teams and self-development, and individual development plans are just a few" (Getting Results, 1997). Each method has its benefits and deficits. Adults must be given credit for life experiences they bring to the training. Also, the trainer must provide opportunities for the adults to engage in the learning process. By engaging adults, the trainer increases retention and understanding.