To call most Safety Professionals a "Jacks of All Trades" is likely an accurate statement. In the profession we are expected to develop and conduct effective audits, generate corrective actions reports, track Recordable and other metrics, write programs to meet OSHA and corporate requirements and best practices and oh, yes, find some time to do some safety training. It is questionable if the budding safety professional had any experience conducting training before they started in the career. It is even less likely that they had ever developed a course.
Possibly we have the few professionals that have an education background, or who have some experience in teaching first aid or other community based initiatives, but new safety professionals with extensive background in the concepts of training are few and far between. So you begin your career and start conducting training. Being human, we fall back on the examples we have of "trainers" and think of our teachers and professors (called role modeling). Possibly the new safety professional has some education credits under their belts. The problem with both these situations is their role models and classes were all geared towards teaching children. The adult is a totally different (psychological) animal.
The way we teach adults should be adjusted to adult communication, psychology and learning styles. Watch how a teacher handles a room full of children and then imagine trying the same technique with adults. Is clearing one's throat at the front of the class, drumming fingers against the table or separating seated attendees the best way to keep the attendees (or bring them back) "on task". How about the image of a teacher shhhing their class back into silence. If we apply adult learning principles, we can see that there are times when side conversations have value.
And finally we come to the catch-all. When a facility has a safety problem and does not know how else to proceed, training can appear to be a resolution. But training is not a catch-all. It can help a safety program, but as with all tools, is limited in it's scope and application. The new (and seasoned) safety professional needs to have an understanding of how training will (or can) affect a safety program and what applications are appropriate and useful.
This paper will discuss some common communication, training process, and learning principles and highlight their application in safety training. The objective is two-fold; for the reader to have an overview of the subject so as to begin incorporating the concepts mentioned and to guide the professional who may desire a deeper berth of the topic to further avenues of inquiry.