It really does matter how safety training is delivered to employees. New research shows the best training contains something called the “dread factor.”
When it comes to safety training, is distance learning and e-learning as good as hands-on experience? Depends.
Hands-on safety training for workers in highly hazardous jobs is most effective in improving safe work behavior, according to the paper, The Dread Factor: How Hazards and Safety Training Influence Learning and Performance. Researchers looked at 40 years of studies to come to their conclusions.
The action, conversations and considerable reflection that take place in highly engaging forms of training create a sense of dread about the hazards workers potentially face in their jobs.
However, for less hazardous work, the method of training seems to matter less, according to the researchers. Less interactive training can have the desired effect.
What’s the take-home for safety managers? Even though they may be encouraged to trim their budgets, safety managers need to carefully consider the relative costs and benefits of using more passive training methods versus more engaging ones.
In the long run, the savings may come in the form of fewer employee injuries, even if the initial costs for hands-on training are more expensive.
To measure the importance of this research, a safety manager needs to look no farther than two disasters in 2010 in highly hazardous industries: the BP oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and the Upper Big Branch explosion that killed 29 miners.
The report includes this anecdote regarding Upper Big Branch: Safety training for new miners regarding roof control and ventilation plans was conducted using lectures and visual aids. However, self-rescuer and respiratory device training included demonstrations and hands-on training.
MSHA’s inspections of Upper Big Branch show most repeated violations were in roof control and ventilation plans.
A PDF of The Dread Factor can be downloaded here.
Do you use hands-on safety training? Let us know about it in the Comments Box below.