Safety inductions – why they are important and how to use them


Since November last year, I’ve been running site and project inductions for the project I am working on. We had a learning and development department which was closed down as main operation of the facility also closed.

Many use the induction to cover hazards on site and the site rules, meeting regulatory requirements. But in reality the majority of incidents and injuries are less about knowing hazards and rules and more about human behaviour. So understanding why people do what they is critical and the induction is the first chance to see this. Personally, I love the inductions……

The first time someone comes on site is an important time. Normally, they are in a heighten state of awareness, because things are new, and therefore more accepting of new information and influencing. Good trainers are aware of this state, using it to maximise their effectiveness. It still relies on engaging content and delivery but mostly this is a good place for a trainer/HSE person.

And for most, this is enough. A willing and open audience, who listen and soak up all the information and knowledge you can pass on. Game over. But for me, leaving it there is missing a trick or two.

I think of my role as one of those assessing who is most likely to get hurt before they do. To do this I need to understand them. Why they do what they do. How they deal with stress, frustration, rushing. To understand people in this situation you need to build rapport, and quickly. The first couple of hours are critical. For me, build a relationship with everyone in the room or fail. Failing to connect at the induction, seriously diminishes my ability to affect and influence peoples behaviours in the field.

As a safety manager of a contractor workforce, I don’t have any line or organisation authority, although having your boss tell you to be safe isn’t that effective! Influence is all I have and that comes from relationships. I work hard to build them, then maintain key relationships. Leaders in the group.

Over the years I ‘ve learned a trick or two about building relationships and how to do it with a group of brand new inductees. Caldini’s work and book helped me here immensely. The first one is, start by remembering everyone’s name. Initially, I wasn’t good at remembering names so I use inductions to improve my skill. More importantly though, when you are able to address a person by their name, very early in the relationship, you immediately convey to the other person they are important. Giving them the feeling of significance. Automatic rapport builder.

The other little trick I learned is to hand out small gifts (reciprocity). The Chuppa Chups is perfect for this, although I am conscientious I am dealing in white death, sugar! however I have found everyone seems to like a small sugar hit every now and then and it is very hard to be angry sucking on a Chuppa Chup! Try handing some out.

So, inductions are important. They are the first glimpse you have of these new people and your first opportunity to assess. Can you work out why these people do what they do? Who is likely to be affected by emotive responses and not use logic or rational thinking to guide their behaviour? Who can you influence. Again, Caldini shows us how.

Use those two little secrets. Give it a try and see how you go.


1 thought on “Safety inductions – why they are important and how to use them”

  1. I agree. Too many times we get instructed to give someone or a group a quick induction so they can quickly get into it. All this means is that we have satisfied our compliance issues and we are on the right side of the law. However by having this attitude we have missed the golden opportunity to get to know and realise who we are sending out onto our site. Are they confident? Are they competent? Are we confident. Don’t rush inductions this is possibly the best and only time that you can get a chance to really see and establish relationships with site personnel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *