Safety and OSHA News

Will this help safety training stick?

How we learn is as important as what we learn. Some recent research may provide a method to help workers remember their safety training. 

In a nutshell: They need to write it down.

New research shows that writing notes help people to retain information.

And for those of you who are wondering: Typing notes doesn’t provide the same boost as writing does.

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the College de France in Paris told The New York Times.

It turns out the written word creates mental stimulation in the brain. Learning and remembering is made easier.

A study by psychologists Pam Mueller of Princeton and Daniel Oppenheimer of the University of California, LA, found in real-world classrooms, students learned better when they took notes by hand.

This new research suggests writing allows the student to process the information provided and reframe it in their own terms. That can lead to better understanding and remembering.

New safety tools: Pad and pen

Some thoughts about applying note-taking to safety training:

  • This may be easier done in a classroom setting rather than on the shop floor or at a work site. It might be worth the minimal cost to give workers a small note pad they can keep in a pocket for on-site training.
  • What about workers who don’t take notes? You can’t really force them. Two thoughts: Notes shouldn’t replace handouts, they should augment them. Workers who don’t take notes can always refer to your handouts. Another idea: Remember the kid in school who always took good notes, and everyone wanted to copy them? What better way to boil down safety training into the language of workers. If you have a worker who takes good notes during safety training, ask to copy them and distributed them to other workers.
  • Finding out a worker doesn’t take notes, even when encouraged to, may be pointing to another problem: Illiteracy. It’s surprising sometimes to find out how far an employee can get without being literate. If you think this is the case with particular employees, work with their managers and HR to address the situation.
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