Employee Spotlight: Nicole Sheets, CIH, CSP

by Nicole Sheets, CIH, CSP, manager of environmental, health, and safety

“Pennoni Training.” That has a nice ring to it. I have worked for 25 years in the world of industrial hygiene and OSHA compliance and within that, have provided A LOT of safety training.

My desire to help others learn began when I was young. When I was five, I had a list of things I was going to teach my little brother before he was even born. Fishing, reading, horseback riding…needless to say, I was a bit disappointed to find out that was not going to happen immediately upon his arrival. In school, I volunteered to help other students who struggled with learning to read. It taught me that facilitating the learning process by presenting ideas in a unique way, rather than emphasizing the subject matter, was an integral part of the teaching process. How to say or present something in a way that helps the other person “get it” was the first goal. Yes, learning the subject matter is the end goal, but the audience isn’t going to get the subject matter unless you’re “speaking their language.”

In college, I tutored classmates. The subjects I helped with were often the subjects I struggled with the most. I realized that sometimes I had to organize information in a different way to absorb it, and in doing so I learned that I could teach others in a way that’s understandable to them, too! Along the way, I realized how much I was learning by teaching others, and the cliche “to teach is to learn” really hit home. The deep dive into preparing to teach a subject requires you to look at the information in a whole new light. I have found that when I strive to explain a topic or concept to others, thinking through the information and developing the presentation brings a deeper understanding and clarification for myself.

That’s the base-level need in training. Not just repeating information to students, but presenting it in the most digestible, clear and impactful way for THEM. Staying attuned to the audience, noticing when a look tells you someone may not have understood and refocusing the delivery in a way that makes sense to the individual or group. It requires constant engagement. In my 20+ years of training, I’ve had the chance to educate and motivate others and noticed some patterns of positive outcomes including:

  • Positive changes in employee engagement, attitudes, knowledge level and behavior
  • Improved moral
  • Employees who care about their safety and the safety of others
  • Higher level of safety awareness and compliance with safety requirements – resistance goes down and participation goes up
  • Reduced OSHA recordable injuries and illnesses
  • Improved relations between management and non-management
  • Pride in safety as a company and on an individual level
  • Financial gains for businesses with improved safety

Good teaching requires passion. You may not feel it when you roll out of bed in the wee hours to go teach a class somewhere, but when you get in front of a group of people who will benefit from what you have to tell them, there is a spark. In the world of safety training, it needs to be a flame.

There is no reason that safety training needs to be dull to impress the importance of safety. Once the audience is tuned in, you can deliver your message. Educating workers to recognize hazards, know their rights and understand how to protect themselves and others, is a powerful opportunity to help others have a better life. And for the employers of these workers, safety training supports their goals of providing a safe workplace that they can be proud of, and that thrives on all social and economic levels.

For 25+ years, Pennoni has been a leader in the safety, industrial hygiene, environmental & public health and emergency preparedness fields. We have been training and educating clients with a wide range of programs including emergency and risk management, environmental health, occupational safety and so much more.

I look forward to further developing high quality and effective safety training programs that will engage Pennoni clients and allow Pennoni to bring a value-add service to our customers. Over the last few months, I’ve enjoyed working with our team of well-qualified trainers and hope expand our training team to all Pennoni regions. I am so excited to be a part of the Pennoni team as the leader of our safety training and bring top level safety training to our clients! Calling all trainers!


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