In 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there were over 2.6 million recordable cases of workplace-related illnesses and injuries. Many of these were caused by human error resulting from improper safety training or poor retention. As such, it’s important for employers to apply the best strategies in their safety training to prevent such incidents in their own workplaces.
To this end, consider utilizing ongoing training to help prevent injuries. Ongoing training helps build habits in employees to avoid and prevent injury in and away from the workplace. This requires building and sustaining a culture of injury prevention. Which is exactly what we’re going to look at today.
Continuous learning helps build safe work habits – without a disruptive time commitment.
Microlearning – A Bite-Sized Approach to Training
Microlearning is an approach to training that does exactly as the name suggests – trains employees in short bursts and at their convenience. This method establishes in everyday work lives without taking attention off primary duties. As such, it minimizes the impact of safety training on productivity without sacrificing training quality. Consistently applying this training combined with on-the-job opportunities to apply it firsthand ensures that when employees go to perform their duties, they understand how to do it safely with minimum risk of injury.
Microlearning training can take many forms, but should always be brief. Here are some examples you can use.
- Short Text – You can provide instructions in short phrases and paragraphs that get straight to the point employees need to understand to be safe while working.
- Illustrations and Photos – Visual information is fast and easy to consume. Therefore, consistently exposing your employees to instructional photos and illustration is a quick and easy way to disseminate snippets of information.
- Video – Similar to illustrations, short videos can be consumed quickly while visually demonstrating key safety policies.
- Audio – Audio-based training material can be consumed in short bursts and require little disruption in the workday.
- Games – Short, digital challenges can be utilized to engage workers during training to quickly demonstrate their understanding of safety training and policies.
And remember, the key to maximizing the effects of microlearning is for it to be continuous and ongoing,
Participatory Training – An Action-oriented Approach
Learning and retaining information is more than reading the documentation or listening to instructional guides. Rather, it has often been found that actual participation in training provides the greatest results, whether in an academic setting or the workplace. Information is best retained through the hands-on approach.
Participatory training actively engages learners and, according to the National Training Laboratories, improves retention from 75 to 90 percent. Compare this to the average retention rate of visual or live demonstrations of a mere 20 to 30 percent.
As such, consider using approaches that utilize the following.
- Discussion – Getting your employees talking about safety policy and training allows them to explore their understanding of the information with trainers and each other.
- Group Practice – Training groups in a hands-on approach not only allows them to practice safety but builds camaraderie in safety-focused workplace culture.
- Peer Training – An effective training approach can involve peers teaching training policies and practices to one another. This builds retention for those doing the instruction and for those receiving it.
Shared Learning Programs for Safety
Building safety training into the everyday lives of employees is an effective approach to injury prevention and improving overall workplace safety. A shared learning program builds a workplace in which employees communicate their learning to one another while creating a workplace culture. This in turn creates a sense of empowerment and belonging. As such, shared learning programs go beyond safety training and create a more unified workforce.
This is particularly effective in industries where work is individually distributed. As such, shared learning programs build a common understanding and language around safety culture. This unifies the workforce and enables them to share best practices on injury prevention with each other while standardizing training.
At the end of the day, continuous training, regardless of the form it comes in, is an effective way to prevent workplace injury. It builds habits and makes learning surrounding safety the norm rather than a one-off exception. Making this training part of your employees’ daily lives normalizes safety training.
The methods we have discussed here will allow you to do just that – normalize safety. This creates a strong safety culture that in turn leads to less time lost on injuries and even improved employee retention.