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Safety Training Tips and Tactics An Interview KPA’s Training Team

Safety Training Tips and Tactics An Interview KPA’s Training Team

In this episode of The Safety Meeting, KPA’s AJ Ruperto (Manager of Video Acquisition), Rachel Hook (Training and Quality Manager), and Kyle Morton (Lead Editor) discuss crafting effective and memorable safety training materials. AJ, Rachel, and Kyle share tips for balancing training techniques, addressing employees of all levels, and battling disengagement by integrating narrative, interviews, and interactive scenarios for successful safety training.

Today we’ll be speaking with three of KPAs best from our training team about the philosophy and approach to creating effective training. With us today we have our Video Acquisition Manager, AJ Ruperto, a Certified Safety Professional with 17 years of experience in heavy manufacturing. Our Training and Quality Qanager, Rachel Hook, a Graduate Safety Practitioner and Associate Safety and Health Manager with five years of safety management experience. And finally, our Lead Editor, Kyle Morton, with 19 years at KPA in the editing department. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today.

When it comes to creating safety training that really sticks with people, what are the key elements that you find make the biggest impact? What’s the secret sauce?

AJ Ruperto:
I’ll take that one, Kat, and I hope our competitors aren’t listening because I’m going to tell you some of our secrets. Our training is award-winning because of our incident recreations, our employee interviews, and our interactive scenarios. More often than not, when an incident occurs in a facility, management will post that incident report on a bulletin for employees to read or sometimes will go over it with them during training, but that impact is very little, and incidents continue to happen. At KPA, our training team will take that same incident report and we recreate that incident to give the audience a visual representation of how that incident occurred. 

So I’ll work with our customers filming these incident recreations, and then we’ll animate the content we can’t film, that way, we don’t put anyone in danger. Sometimes we use security footage, if it’s available, and also pictures of the injury, which at times can be gruesome.

But the viewer actually is seeing how the incident occurred and at times, pictures of the real result. That leaves a bigger impact on the employee rather than reading or maybe reading an incident report posted on a bulletin.

But that’s not it, Kat. Sometimes we get lucky, and the injured employee will be willing to be interviewed and discuss the incident they were involved in and talk about the damage that it caused and how it affected their personal life.

I recently did an interview with an employee who lost all their fingertips when he stuck his hand at a pinch point on a suspended crane load. The employee’s number one love in life was playing the guitar, and he couldn’t do it anymore because of the decision he made that day. So he goes on to talk about how he would do anything to go back in time and not make the decision that he made that day. And you can see it in his face, the pain in his face as he talks about it. I had customers reach out to me to talk about how powerful that was and how it’s going to make people think twice about sticking their hands in pitch points. 


And those are the kind of things that we include in our training that separate us from everyone else.

It sounds like building that narrative around what happens when training isn’t followed is really what sticks best in people’s minds. But along with that, I know how it’s delivered matters, and I’ve always been fascinated by the power of storytelling. How do you weave those narratives into safety training to make it more memorable and relatable to those employees?


Rachel Hook:
When we weave narratives into our safety training, we always want to start and provide the Why’s and the What’s upfront for the learners. So why is the training being taken? What are you going to be learning in that training? What is at stake for the user? And to make it even more relatable for those users, we use our resources such as our subject matter experts, and we even use client feedback to use examples in our training. We also use images and scenarios, like AJ was saying, we’ll have questions and other visuals to highlight what the learner would experience in real life. We really want to make sure that what we’re seeing in our training and what the user is seeing is something that they would actually see in their industry and in their job itself.

That sounds like it could potentially be a lot for someone to take in, especially someone who has many trainings to get to. So I know there’s a fine line between delivering vital safety information and keeping your audience engaged. How do you strike a balance in creating that in your training sessions?

Rachel Hook:
It is important to have that balance, and it’s important to keep in mind that the vital safety information has to come first, especially if it’s regulatory required, but you can make it more engaging by using different mediums. Within our training, we have various video segments, slide content and then engaging visuals that break up the training. And we also like to ask thought-provoking questions throughout the training. 

We use something called knowledge checks in our training that break up the safety information and then the visuals that you see. So we will start a section saying, “Take a guess: and we’ll ask a question to the learner, and they will have to take a guess on whatever the question’s being asked, and they have choices, and there’s no stake here with right or wrong. They’re not being graded on the question. It’s just to get that thought-provoking information out there, and then we’ll have the feedback with that vital safety information. So instead of just going right into that safety information, they’re having to think on it first. They’re either looking at some pictures or seeing the question itself, and then they’re going to learn that safety information that they have to know.

Got it. Yeah, using interactivity definitely makes sense in these scenarios. I think it probably prevents people from whizzing through without actually taking in the information. And it can also be a great way to track what people are retaining. And when it comes to that retention, sometimes there is a tendency for more senior people in the organization to want to breeze through, but ensuring that safety training resonates with everyone in the organization, from the front lines to the top brass, must be quite a task. What techniques do you use to ensure that it does speak to all levels?

Kyle Morton:
Yeah, that’s a big focus for us when we’re trying to create the right safety training for an entire company and not just a single employee or a single department. But one of the main things we do is the safety training that we provide is written for all levels to understand it’s not just for one level job, it’s for anyone that goes in that environment. It fits that specific thing, so it works really well for the whole company. On top of that, whether we’re using photos or filming, we do that in familiar locations so it’s relevant to that client. So let’s say they work at an auto dealership, you’re not looking at a grocery store, you’re looking at an auto dealership, and it feels better. Then, you get to see the same type of employees that you would see in your facility to help make that familiar space more relevant to you and impactful.

And speaking of impactful, back to what AJ and Rachel were both saying with the incident recreations that we do, that’s the same thing where it emphasizes that for all levels because when your employees are hurt, if you’re a manager and if you’re an employee, you don’t want to get hurt either. So it just goes all around, all-encompassing. To give you a quick example, when I started back in ’04, I did an edit back in ’05 where there was an employee working in a steel facility on a roll mill, which is part of the steel process, and he was doing maintenance on a floor grate. So he moved the floor open, and the process moves so that he could get into the space, and he didn’t lock out. So another employee started up the process, and so the machine started closing the space on him, and he had a few seconds to either say, “Oh, crap,” or get out of the space. And he unfortunately said, “Oh, crap.” And he did get crushed, but he did survive.

Wow. Absolutely. I can see how incorporating these kinds of stories into the trainings can really make an impact on people. And I know a lot of companies have struggled with making sure that their training stays relevant across all those levels. So I know adding in those examples can be really powerful. And while we already touched on this before, I want to dig a little deeper into the power of interactive learning. How do you incorporate interactivity into your safety training initiatives, and why is it so important?

Kyle Morton:
Yeah, absolutely. We try to incorporate it. We don’t want to overdo it, but we definitely would like to break up the training so that it’s not just a bunch of text you read or a bunch of videos you watch or anything like that. We like the subtle breakups that help engage and make you think about the training itself. We also like to try to do a balance because you don’t want it to be too simple where it’s like, “Oh, easy. One click. We’re done,” and we don’t want it to be too complicated where you go through a whole process, and it just has to be that right fit for our audience. 

We use a variety of methods that Rachel already mentioned where you’re talking about a knowledge check where it stops the audience so that they have to think about it and go through the information in an interactive way like clicking on buttons in a sequential order or clicking on something that’s right to move along the process like at what temperature is dangerous for humans to be in that environment, something like that.

And also, we have videos that you would watch, like three videos, and say, “Which one is correct?” It’s something like that where you would interact with the employee. And a slight little example for that, we just did mobile equipment and pedestrian safety, and we show a scenario where we see one employee and he walks through a crosswalk toward a building, and the building has a man door, which you should use, and a bay door, which you should not, because that’s for the mobile equipment. And so each scenario you watch him walk through, say, option one was him walking through the crosswalk and using the man door, which is correct. And then we show a different one where he walks through the crosswalk or walks through the bay door. And the third one, he doesn’t use the crosswalk and walks through the building. But the unique thing about this is depending on what they select, they get a different response. So if they go through the bay door, then you see the perspective of the employee as he walks into the bay door and there’s a forklift coming out, or if he’s walking through the man door, everything’s fine, and he continues walking. So it’s just unique settings like that that we can give a different aspect to the training forum, a different viewpoint that helps keep the audience more engaged in it.

Absolutely. That’s another great set of examples. And while this interview has been full of insight that our listeners can put to use in creating that training or customizing training, I know that sometimes despite our best efforts, folks can still tune out. So what do you incorporate into the trainings that you’re creating to reduce resistance or disengagement from employees that are going through these trainings?

AJ Ruperto:
So that resistance or disengagement happens because we have short attention spans, and studies have shown that the average attention span is three to five minutes long. That’s why when we’re looking for an instructional video on the internet to either fix something in our house or fix something on our vehicles, we tend to pick the three-minute video over the 18 or 22-minute video. Now, sometimes we can’t stay in that timeframe because we have to cover all the compliance information on that topic, and we have to cover that material, and if we didn’t, we’d most likely be out of business. So adding impactful incident recreations, employee interviews, and innovative interactivity throughout the training, that’s what helps avoid that resistance or disengagement.

Gotcha. Okay. Well, I hope that all of the listeners out there are ready to go put together some great training for their team that includes everything we’ve heard today around incident recreations, interviews, interactivity, while balancing complexity and length of training. But is there anything that you guys would want to give to our listeners before we wrap up?

AJ Ruperto:
Absolutely. If you’re a client of ours and you have an incident that you’d like us to recreate or you have an employee who’s willing to talk to us about an incident they were involved in, please reach out to us. The interviews, employees talking about those unfortunate times that they were in with that incident, if they could help one person, it’s a big difference.

Kyle Morton:
Yeah, we are constantly trying to innovate and make our product even better for our clients, and you got three powerful people here that just are very passionate and love working with our clients on making something better.

Absolutely. And with KPA putting together all of this training and AJ mentioning that, you can always reach out, we’ll put some information in the notes for this episode so that you guys can reach out to our training team if you want to be able to supply an interview or give us some information on an incident that happened and how it could have been prevented, they’re always open to that, looking for people to work with to make sure that everyone out there who uses KPA or beyond can access effective training that’s going to stick with your people and keep your team safe. Thanks again for talking with us today, we really appreciate it, and we’ll see you next time.

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Toby Graham

Toby manages the marketing communications team here at KPA. She's on a quest to help people tell clear, fun stories that their audience can relate to. She's a HUGE sugar junkie...and usually starts wandering the halls looking for cookies around 3pm daily.

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