As the winter months approach, it is time to start thinking about that dreaded annual refresher training!!  Well, it doesn’t always have to be an awful day.  A few complaints I have gotten in the past are “it is so boring,” or “it is the worst day of the year.”   Can you believe that?  As a training specialist for MSHA, that is definitely NOT what I want to hear.

I certainly understand the dilemma.  How do you train your employees the same topics every year while making it an effective training session?  Some typical ways that I have seen training done is with videos or PowerPoint presentations, which usually involves one trainer talking in front of the group the ENTIRE time.  Who wants to do that?  Then again, who wants to listen to that?  You need quite the personality to entertain an audience of miners for that long.

Here is an idea; plan ahead to make the training about the students.  Break them into groups or pairs and have them work together on a variety of activities.  When the day arrives to do the training, the students are doing all the work.  Therefore, it will make the day fly by for everyone and they will retain the information better.  Here are some ideas that I have collected throughout industry from some of the most unique trainers.

  • Hazard Identification training.  Defective items are laid on tables and the students have to inspect each item and name what is wrong with each one.  The students can then discuss the defective items.
  • Workplace Inspection Training.  Go out to the work site and complete a thorough workplace and equipment inspection with groups of students.  Hopefully they will learn some things to look for that they may not have seen before.
  • 30 CFR Training.  Show a recording of a popular show or movie, or pictures that involve a hazardous scene.  Have the employees list out standards from the 30 CFR in which scenes from the video would be in violation.
  • Interactive Hazard Communication Training.  Students are given an SDS and an empty bottle, jug, or can along with construction paper, newspapers, magazines, scissors, glue, etc.  They are required to label that bottle with what they feel is most important from the SDS.  Each group gets a different chemical and then they present what they produced to the group.
  • Poster Boards.  Have some tables set up with tag boards that have different topics and activities related to Material Handling, Bloodborne Pathognes, Fall Protection, Mobile Equipment, Ground Conditions, etc. and have each group spend 5 minutes or so at each station filling out prepared worksheets.
  • Interactive games like Jeopardy.  Try to change it up from year to year to make it interesting.  Prizes are not necessary, but definitely make it more competitive.
  • Interactive remotes:  Each student gets a remote and questions are posted through a computer program.  Have students respond to a variety of multiple choice, true/false questions.  It will give the percentage of students that got the answers right, so more time can be spent on the topic if needed.  The software program will show statistics at the end of the program.
  • Don’t feel pressure to get all the training done in one 8 hour session.  Break it up into topics throughout the year then you can address issues as they come up.


The MSHA website always has new material for trainers like you to utilize in your next training session.


Amy Sandelin

Training Specialist

MSHA Educational Field