Here’s an interesting release I just received. It concerns a study on the value of training.

According to the recent study, more labor accidents could be prevented if workers received additional interactive, engaging training. The researchers found that when it comes to acquiring safety knowledge and demonstrating safe work behaviors in hazardous work environments, interactive training techniques like hands-on simulations play a critical role.

The study’s findings qualify the conclusions of a team of researchers from Canada’s Institute for Work & Health and the U.S.’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) which reported that there was insufficient evidence for recommending the adoption of more interactive training techniques. According to lead author, Michael J. Burke of Tulane University, “Our research is the most comprehensive to date to examine the question of how important training engagement is for informing workers about hazards and how to avoid them, and motivating workers to practice safe work behaviors.”

The research paper, which appeared in the February issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, discusses how engaging and simulating training triggers a psychological response referred to as the “dread factor”. This response, particularly when workers are being prepared to deal with ominous hazards, enhances the ability to learn. For example, the considerable practice and social interaction involved in high engagement training in handling ominous hazards instills dread in workers. This realization of injury/illness vulnerability plays a primary role in motivating individuals to learn about how to avoid exposure to such hazards.

“From a practical viewpoint, this study shows that engaging training does make a difference for workers in highly hazardous conditions,” says a senior author on the study, Kristin Smith-Crowe of the University of Utah. “And recent disasters, like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia, remind us that the stakes can be very high.”

The investigation statistically integrated the results from 113 safety training studies (conducted since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act in 1971) with a total sample size of 24,694 workers from 16 countries.

The paper’s other co-authors include Rommel O. Salvador of the University of Washington in Tacoma, Suzanne Chan-Serafin of the University of New South Wales, and Alexis Smith and Shirley Sonesh of Tulane University.

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