According to the the research paper "Relative Effectiveness of Worker Safety and Health Training Methods" from the American Journal of Public Health in February 2006, engaging safety training is three times more effective than the least engaging methods in promoting knowledge and skill acquisition. In addition, the most engaging methods of safety training are, on average, most effective in reducing negative outcomes such as accidents.
Passive safety training uses information-based techniques where trainees attend a training presentation, read an induction manual, or watch a video.
Engaging safety training uses more performance-based techniques such as hands-on demonstrations and behaviour modelling (where the trainee gets to watch a demonstration and then gets a turn with coaching. It's like how children learn from copying their parents). It also includes the development of knowledge in stages.
The study called for the design and implementation of learner-centered, participatory approaches to worker safety and health training.
We recommend using a trainer to administer the training. Our tips below detail how to create engaging training materials and how to structure the training session. Based on a variety of studies, here are eight items to include in your safety induction training to make it more active and engaging:
1. Reduce the amount of words used in training- training needs to be in some type of written format, but as the brain prefers visuals and finds them easier to understand (reading is inefficient, see Why Using Visual in our Communication is so Important for more information) training must include lots of interesting visuals to help explain information faster.
2. Use video content - while watching a video is passive, it can be made more active. Research has found that if you tell people they are going to be tested after watching a video, they will score better on tests about the content on the video and also remember that information for longer. So the trick is to tell people you are going to test them and then, test them. Keep in mind that not all video content is created equal. Avoid heavily entertainment based training (research has found it to be ineffective), amateurish videos (that use really poor filming and editing techniques) and videos where the narration does not match the visuals. Videos dual-encode information into the brain, which means they get remembered and are a much more powerful training technique than reading alone.
3. Change the training activity every 10 minutes - According to John Medina, the author of the book, Brain Rules, trainee attention steadily drops after 10 minutes. Every 10 minutes change the training activity. If you have been giving theory for 10 minutes, do something emotionally relevant such as tell a story, play a video or do an activity.
4. Train at a moderate pace - Giving information too fast, stops learning. Training needs to be done at a moderate pace, so people have time to absorb the information.
5. Use all the senses - Research has found that groups in multisensory environments always learn better than groups in unisensory training environments. Try and use as many senses as you can. Get people to touch examples, hear sounds, taste (pretty easy for food service companies, not so good for chemical companies) and smell. This can be hard for some industries, but we advise our clients to pass items around during training (for a glass manufacturer they pass around examples of glass with errors). It pays to be inventive.
6. Do Q&A- it's really important that trainees get the chance to ask questions immediately after learning information to improve memory recall. it also forces trainees to see the relationships between events and their actions, which leads them to handling unforeseen events better and being able to better self monitor their performance/results. Again, according to John Medina, deliberate repetition can lessen memory loss. Make sure repetitions are spaced out after each topic. If relevant, get trainees to think about ways the information might have personally effected them or others in the past. E-learning often misses the opportunity for Q&A. This is an integral part of learning.
7. Give a demonstration/coaching - As soon as trainees have learnt the theory, get them out practising what they have learnt. For example, for one of our clients we have created an isolation training video with test questions. As soon as trainees watch the video (and have asked the trainer questions), they are taken to a dummy isolation board to watch the trainer undertake an isolation. They then have a go and get coached afterwards on how to improve).
8. Test trainees - test trainees after training and if this is done electronically, make sure that the quiz questions are displayed randomly to avoid cheating.
What can you do to make your induction training more active?