How To Engage Long-Time Factory Workers Unfamiliar With Computerized Safety Training

by Alyssa Carpenter

They're just sitting there with their eyes glazed over, not sure how to turn the computer on. Your students have worked at the factory their whole lives and can run the machinery like clockwork. But the training dynamics have changed. They've been asked to do their safety training on the computer.

How do you engage workers who know the factory from top to bottom, but who are unfamiliar with computers?

Transition With Care

When your students' computer skill level is negligible, you must reassess your delivery. These workers know their safety training inside and out. They just don't know how to access it on the computer. To avoid frustration, be very literal in your explanations about how to complete the training. For instance, show each person where the button is to turn on the computer. Let them know what to expect during each step of their training, all the while respecting their experiential knowledge.

Break The Ice

Engage your students by beginning your session with an icebreaker. Icebreakers get everyone relaxed and ready to work. Keep it short and humorous. Don't put anyone on the spot asking about their computer skills. Computer literacy should have been established before the group ever set foot in the training center. Instead, have everyone introduce themselves, if you are training as a group. If the group staggers in on their own time, make sure to introduce yourself and explain the process one-to-one. Don't underestimate the power of a smile and a good-natured joke or two.

Engage Yourself!

Don't simply break the ice and then retreat to the back of the training room. You need to remain accessible should your students have any questions. Watch body language and facial expressions so that you can recognize signs of frustration. Some of your students may work more slowly than others. Let them know that working at their own pace is okay. However, advise your students ahead of time if there are any time constraints (for example, they need to return to the factory floor in two hours).

The Importance of Evaluation

Each student will evaluate the safety training when they are finished with their training. Their input will be invaluable to you, as the trainer, and to the safety program in general. It will give you insight whether or not you need to revise the course structure and delivery. This can be difficult when safety training is pre-packaged. You may not have any leeway in how it is modified.

Remember To Keep To Your Training Objective

Your objective is to get the workers through training with minimal downtime and loss to productivity. They will not be using the software daily, only to demonstrate competence according to ISO and OSHA standards. The training will likely change as ISO standards will be updated and published by 2016. This is where engagement and evaluation are so important. Your students are your guides to what's working and what's not working during training. Remember, they aren't the only end-users. What goes on in the training center is a two-way street of engagement. Trainers learn from their experience with each worker.

Need more help? Contact a company like Walker Strategy with any questions or concerns you have.