Interactive safety training better for hazardous jobs: study

January 27, 2011

New Orleans – Interactive safety training may help employees in dangerous jobs become more aware of potential hazards and avoid deadly mistakes, according to research from Tulane University.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology (Vol. 96, No. 1), analyzed 113 safety training studies conducted since the Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect in 1971. Researchers found that more engaging training, such as behavioral modeling, simulation and hands-on training, was considerably more effective than lectures, films, reading materials and videos, according to a press release from the American Psychological Association, which publishes the Journal of Applied Psychology.

However, less engaging training was effective at improving safety in less dangerous jobs.

“The primary psychological mechanism we can offer as an explanation for these results is something called the ‘dread factor,’” the study’s lead author, Michael Burke of Tulane University, said in the release. “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.”