Whether in construction, industry, or manufacturing, many businesses are concerned about workplace safety. That concern may be with compliance safety, following OSHA or other regulatory rules, or with creating an engaged culture of workplace safety. There’s a good reason for these concerns. According to the National Safety Council, a worker experiences a job-related injury every 7 seconds. Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries includes these statistics:
- A total of 5,147 fatal work injuries were reported.
- The number of fatalities due to falls, 887, was at the highest level in the 26-year history of the BLS. This is 17 percent of all worker deaths.
- Fifteen percent of the fatally injured workers were age 65 or over. This is nearly double the eight percent of fatally injured workers age 65 or over reported in 1992 which was the first year CFOI published national data.
These numbers are staggering. Many workplace injuries and deaths are prevented by effective and ongoing safety training. There is one relatively new approach to safety training. This new approach to safety training utilizes microlearning.
Microlearning, used by educators for many years, is a method of delivering and teaching material to learners in small, short-term learning activities. A microlearning session is shorter in length compared to a traditional learning session. This brief, targeted learning session spans anywhere from about 3 to 6 minutes.
Microlearning in Safety Training
Microlearning safety training sessions complement or reinforce traditional training sessions. After a traditional safety training session, a microlearning session reinforces key safety points to improve safety awareness retention.
Further, a microlearning session refresh and highlight the importance of worker safety competencies. Smaller sized microlearning sessions provide employees access to just-in-time training and promotes year-round learning for all workers.
With today’s technological society, many people are familiar with smartphones and tablets. Workers can access safety training microlearning session(s) in short chunks of material on their phone or tablet. Microlearning with smart phones and tablets can be less time consuming and can be accessed frequently on an as needed basis for better retention.
Why Not Rely Solely on Traditional Learning in Safety Training?
Traditional learning is often challenging to get safety training to workers when they need it. Think of this in terms of traditional employee training programs such as CPR. Another challenge is in finding a time for all workers to attend traditional face-to-face training sessions. Keeping workers engaged with longer learning sessions and multiple learning topics often impede learning and retention. Without repetition, learning is not reinforced. Research has shown that more than half of new information is forgotten after an hour and 80 percent is lost after about one month.
There are ongoing changes in the workforce, particularly as current workers retire and new workers enter the workforce. We are using smart devices more and more. Rather than committing phone numbers to memory, using paper-and-pencil methods for appointments, or using physically printed user manuals, workers are relying on smart devices. Technologies make searching for and retrieving information faster. Workers used to technology are also used to online access and information retrieval and may not be used to printed paper safety training materials. Quite a change compared to years ago, before smart devices.
OSHA and Safety Training
In the beginning of this post, some staggering statistics were presented about workplace fatalities. Effective and ongoing safety training has a powerful impact of preventing injuries and fatalities. There are many OSHA standards which require that employers provide safety training to their employees. Some people may mistakenly think that they don’t need safety training, perhaps because they have years of experience. Years of experience does not guarantee that the worker is aware of OSHA requirements or that the worker remembers and follows through with all safety regulations. Refer to the following OSHA documents:
- Resource for Development and Delivery of Training to Workers provides information about educating adult learners.
- Training Requirements in OSHA Standards provides information for training requirements for workplace safety.
Microlearning in safety training can augment traditional safety training. Short duration and convenience of microlearning sessions helps workers to be engaged and to retain key information. Delivery of effective and ongoing safety training may result in preventing injuries and fatalities.