Study Shows Interactive Training Reduces Risk

A recent study demonstrates that highly interactive training has been found to be more effective at reducing risk within jobs that are of higher risk. However, lower risk jobs do not seem to be as affected by the interactive methods. Highly interactive training methods can include methods such as hands on training, role playing, etc. It is believed that through the more interactive training methods that the trainees become more aware of the risks that are present in the job.

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 interactive training causes a physiological response in workers. “The primary psychological mechanism we can offer as an explanation for these results is something called the ‘dread factor,'” said the study’s lead author, Michael Burke, PhD, of Tulane University. “In a more interactive training environment, the trainees are faced more acutely with the possible dangers of their job and they are, in turn, more motivated to learn about such dangers and how to avoid them.”

“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.

Research like this helps to better understand what motivates employees, and helps to develop safety and training programs that will ultimately help to reduce injuries in the workforce.


Study Cited: Michael J. Burke, Rommel O. Salvador, Kristin Smith-Crowe, Suzanne Chan-Serafin, Alexis Smith, Shirley Sonesh. The dread factor: How hazards and safety training influence learning and performance.. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2011; 96 (1): 46 DOI: 10.1037/a0021838