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Handling Employees Resistant to Worker Safety Training

Handling Employees Resistant to Worker Safety Training

We’re sure you’ve run into it- not everyone within your company is as thrilled as you are about workplace safety practices and the training involved with them. Unfortunately, there will always be those resistant to extra effort and change, especially when it comes to worker safety, something that some employees come to view as a distractor from their main job tasks and functions. While it is not entirely possible to completely change all employees’ minds when it comes to safety training, there are things that you can do in an effort to improve their attitudes and receptiveness. See some of these tips below.

Don’t take it personally

The worst thing that you can do in a situation where employees are responding negatively to safety training is in turn respond negatively to them. By reacting defensively to someone who is showing resistance to the training that they are receiving, you will only bring more bad feelings into the situation and associate further negative feelings with the process.

In order to avoid negative reactions within yourself, keep in mind that any resistance occurring is likely not reflective upon you as a person. As we mentioned earlier, many employees show resistance to safety training because they see it as extra work or even as something that gets in the way of their other work.

Furthermore, culturally, we are seeing a rise in the number of employees that are unenthusiastic about work in general. Gallup, a consulting company that conducts regular U.S. and world polls, found that 20% of employees in the U.S. and Europe are “actively disengaged.” These types of employees will almost definitely be even more resistant to additional workplace initiatives such as safety training, as they already do not want to be at work at all. If you are able to keep this in mind, it will allow you to think critically about how you can stress the importance of safety training as well as how you can make it enjoyable for these employees instead of taking it personally and retaliating.

Recognize and reward those who are receptive and attentive

By publicly recognizing and praising employees who actively participate in training, whether they are asking a question, volunteering for a demonstration or sharing their own safety anecdotes, you will create a positive atmosphere that allows participating employees to feel appreciated and encourages additional employees to join in. You may even provide some sort of incentive for those participating to really increase motivation. However, this must be done carefully- OSHA has strict guidelines centered around incentive programs in order to prevent misreporting. To learn more about ideas and guidelines for creating safety incentive programs that comply with OSHA’s guidelines, download our free guide: “OSHA Guideline-Complying Safety Incentive Programs.”

Ask for feedback

Once your employees have completed their safety training, allow them to share their feedback. This can be done through a survey, a comments and suggestions bin, etc. Learn which parts of the training they enjoyed as well as which parts they did not like. By gathering this intel, you will be able to make tweaks, when able, to your training program by playing off what employees did like and improving areas that may have caused some of the negative reactions and resistance to the process. You won’t always be able to make everyone happy or change every single thing that someone didn’t like, but at the very least, it will allow you to be conscious of the opinion of those on the receiving end and aware of areas that need improvement.

Get rid of distractions

Finally, if there are employees that are continuously making negative remarks, refusing to participate or noticeably showing signs of resistance, politely and respectfully ask them to leave the training area. At this point, these individuals will face whatever disciplinary repercussions that are in place for not completing the required safety training. As mentioned earlier, negativity is contagious and will distract and bring others around down. By getting rid of those unwilling to change their minds or put forth effort, you will provide those that remain with a more positive and open safety training atmosphere.

Ultimately, you can’t control the thoughts and attitudes of all employees, but by applying these guidelines, you are doing your part to accommodate to those putting up a struggle and, therefore, improving upon your safety training program’s effectiveness. To learn more about how SoloProtect can contribute to your company’s workplace safety, visit

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