Job Training: Preparing for the Worst

The more interactive the training, the bigger the reduction of injury and death for dangerous jobs

(RxWiki News) Hands-on safety training for workers in highly dangerous jobs helps to reduce the risk of injury and death, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Annually, job-related accidents and illnesses claim the lives of more than two million people worldwide. In 2005, there were 5,702 job-related deaths in the United States. Occupational disease - which accounts for an estimated 1.7 million work-related deaths each year - has become the primary danger faced by workers at their jobs. Additionally, there are about 268 million non-fatal workplace accidents each year.

In order to help reduce these numbers, Michael Burke, Ph.D., of Tulane University, and colleagues examined results from 113 safety training studies. After categorizing hazardous jobs into a hierarchy, they found that more involved training (such as behavior modeling, simulations, and hands-on training) substantially improved job safety knowledge and outcomes for the most dangerous work environments. However, the researchers also found that less involved training (such as lectures, films, and reading materials) was equally effective for less dangerous jobs.

According to Burke, the most plausible explanation for these results is something called the 'dread factor.' More interactive training for the most dangerous jobs will exposure workers to the extreme hazards of their workplaces, consequently instilling in them a sense of dread and awareness of the risks they face.

As such, the study's authors contend that the more dangerous a job is, the more hands-on training should be used.

Review Date: 
January 26, 2011