Last month I ran my first webinar. It was a great experience as I love talking to people. There were a few logistical problems to overcome like being at my desk by 7.00am when I only flew back from Aberdeen late the night before. Sinead, my colleague who set up the webinar and welcomed people, breathed a sigh of relief when I emailed at 7 to say I wasn’t stuck in Scotland and would run the webinar from the hotel lobby!

A doorstep mat that reads 'welcome'

When I thought about doing this I was really keen to talk about something that comes up time and again when I’m working with safety teams and that was obviously going to be an issue for other safety people out there. So I chose to hone in on induction sessions because I’ve experienced many of these during site visits to do safety culture assessments, and the experience has often made me want to cry. These sessions are apologetic in tone and whiz through the material to get you on your way as if we don’t really need to know what’s being said, just to go through the motions and sign the form. And god forbid you actually want to ask a question about anything, that just prolongs the time people are held up rather than clarifies how not to be squashed by a folklift on the way to the car park!

The purpose of the webinar was to show how important first impressions are when people arrive at your organisation. From the posters and certificates in reception to the desk staff who sign them in and of course the person who delivers the site induction. Choosing this person and training them is vital, I can’t stress this enough. If you have someone reading from a checklist who doesn’t belive a word of it themselves you’re not going to get people to understand your important safety messages. But you’re also giving visitors a lasting impression that it’s all just a compliance issue anyway. People who aren’t on side with health and safety will say things like “I know this seems over the top but we have to tell you about the walkways and to cross at the crossing ok?”. Yes information about walkways to car-parks must be imparted to your audience, but do the audience believe it’s a necessary thing for them to do? Probably not.

Twenty people registered for our free webinar from diverse industries and they made very interesting points about how they’ve improved their induction, by recognising how crucial it is to get people on board with how seriously health and safety is taken at their organisation. We spoke about the particular difficulties of inductions in the construction industry, as many staff feel that they’ve been through so many they fall asleep and don’t listen or care any more so set a poor example to new starters.

There are some very interesting problems faced by safety teams and as I say in the webinar the person you give the job of inductions to must be able to deal with the cynics and those senior people who don’t think they should have to sit through them. It’s their job to help everyone feel engaged with the material, that’s the only way to make your safety stick with them.

It’s not too late if you missed the webinar, you can watch it here. The sound quality could be better, but that’s probably just my voice which I’m told repeatedly here that I obviously like the sound of! Share your own induction experiences with me in the comments below.