How to design safety training materials workers will read

A safer workplace starts with targeted messaging that workers can understand
A safer workplace starts with targeted messaging that workers can understand.

What is your main message? Answering the previous questions should make answering this one easier. State your message early in written materials and reiterate it later to drive your point home, Sinyai recommended.

Sometimes, training materials may need to translate health or regulatory issues into plain language. “Regulations, like other legal documents, are written primarily to stand up in court, not necessarily for clear communication,” Sinyai said.

[Related: Regulations drive up development costs by over 30%]

He offered three recommendations for writing a targeted message. First, stay on point. Readers don’t want a lot of background information, he said, so stay focused on what you want readers to do.

Second, start with a summary. This can help keep your message on point. It’s also helpful for those people who only read the first paragraph and set it aside.

Use subheadings. For the same reason that you include a summary and state your message early in your document, subheadings help people who only skim the materials for key messages. Subheadings also make an intimidating block of text more manageable.

Test materials before sharing with a wider audience

Builders can also test safety materials with a small segment of their crews. Sinyai recommended that builders share drafts with a sample of their workers.

“You’re writing for them, not for yourself. They’re the ultimate authority on what’s clear and what’s not,” he said.

Testing materials with three or four different groups would get the most useful feedback, Sinyai said. He acknowledged that testing safety training materials can be a challenge, but “whatever you can do in testing will pay off,” he said.


Danielle Andrus

Editor, Colorado Builder Magazine

Danielle Andrus has 267 posts and counting. See all posts by Danielle Andrus

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