Interactive Training Still a Vital Component to Safety Programs
A recent article published in the Journal of Applied Psychology regarding hazards and safety training has concluded that hands-on training is more effective than traditional one-way lecture forms of training for tasks that carry a high risk of death, injury, or illness.
Our findings indicate that, on average, the highly engaging methods of safety training are considerably more effective than the less engaging methods of training in knowledge acquisition and safety performance… From a practical perspective, these findings suggest the need for safety managers to more carefully consider the relative costs and benefits of placing a trainee in a passive versus more active type of safety training for knowledge acquisition and performance enhancement… although distance learning and electronic learning (e-learning) approaches to training offer economies of scale and may appear cost effective from a short-term financial perspective, a lack of participant engagement in such training approaches has been acknowledged as a major issue… Given the importance of knowledge and performance as outcomes of safety training, balancing training engagement with the short-term financial costs becomes critical both to keeping workers safe and to avoid the long-term financial costs of safety-related disasters (Burke et al., 2011).
In other words, training programs with active discussions, trainer feedback, and actual hands-on activities are more effective than traditional one-way lecture style training programs, which is why the USWTMC utilizes the Small Group Activity Method.
Working together collectively sharing our knowledge
The SGAM used by the USWTMC puts the learner in the center of the workshop. Instead of simply listening to trainers talk or watching video presentations, participants are put to work solving real-life problems, building upon their own skills and experiences. The tasks require that the groups use their experience to tackle problems and make judgments on key issues. TMC worker-trainers create a learning environment where open discussion and in class participation are fundamental to finding solutions.
New forms of technology, which allow us to reach more and more individuals, may actually be a step back when it comes to safety training. Videos and webcams, while a helpful tool, do not supplement live interaction and hands on components. The short-term financial benefits gained through the use of passive forms of training are dwarfed by the potential long-term costs that accompany a safety disaster.
A recent example that exemplifies the significance placed on engaging forms of training can be found regarding air line pilots. The Air Line Pilots Association is hoping that the recent findings regarding levels of interactivity in training methods will help the FAA and United Airlines see that more engaging training is needed. Some 6,000 United Airlines pilots are dissatisfied with the training they have received following United 2010’s merger with Continental Airlines. A report by the ALPA is currently being circulated through congress.
From The Wall Street Journal:
The document, dated Nov. 10, lambasts United for using only individual, computer-based training to help United pilots absorb a large volume of procedural changes without including classroom work or practice sessions in flight simulators. The report alleges that new cockpit procedures imposed on United crews are causing stressed pilots to report higher-than-normal numbers of safety lapses, including instances of nearly forgetting to lower landing gear before touchdown. Other pilots, according to the report, have been so distracted and unfamiliar with the changes that they have failed to properly follow taxi instructions on the ground, while still others took themselves off duty because they felt they weren’t fit to fly.
This is just one example of the lack of engagement hampering the acquisition of knowledge. Several more exist, which is why the training courses that the TMC offers all include a strong foundation on the interaction between facilitator and the participants, as well as numerous hands on activities that are collectively completed and require the participants to engage.
To view the entire study, or find out more about the dread factor, click here.