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Why isn’t your safety training working?

As professionals, we make every effort to provide effective training. However, we repeatedly discover that our safety training is ineffective in preventing workplace injuries, with young workers being particularly vulnerable.

The statistics on industrial injuries and fatalities provide proof. So, to remedy this issue, should we train more people or investigate why the message isn’t getting through?

This article examines research on young employees’ learning procedures for safe manual handling. As a result, we obtain insight into how we should approach educating our future employees. The study investigates the conflicting needs of employment and safety regulations.

The age-old conundrum of output vs. safety rears its head once more. The study emphasizes the necessity of learning work health and safety skills rather than being instructed to work safely.

Young workers are more prone than older workers to being hurt at work, owing to inexperience and being asked to execute a new task. Manual and unskilled workers are more likely to sustain a workplace injury. Young workers who drop out of school or have learning disabilities are more vulnerable to workplace dangers.

Much workplace health and safety training focuses on influencing new and young workers’ attitudes and behaviors toward safe work processes. We frequently give instruction in a one-way transfer, from the trainer to the worker. There is frequently little emphasis on learning; instead, the emphasis is on the exchange of knowledge, which results in instances when your safety training is ineffective.

The effects of learning about safe practices on young workers

It might be difficult to separate health and safety abilities from general job skills. The study focused on a combination of learning skills related to workplace safety. The study compared experienced workers’ safety knowledge to that of apprentices to measure young workers’ learning and understanding.

The seasoned workers expected the apprentices to have some common sense. They did not train or guide them on topics that appeared to be evident. These concerns and procedures, however, were not evident to the trainees. The experienced workers saw safety hazards as evident and hence did not need to discuss them with the trainees. When we train young workers, this lack of clear communication is one of the reasons why safety training fails. Experienced workers do not teach apprentices professional jargon concerning vital activities.

They do not believe it is necessary to share this information with the apprentices. A lack of trust is one of the reasons experienced workers are hesitant to offer apprentices more responsibility or disclose more details. Failure to exchange knowledge and communicate with novice personnel hinders their ability to learn in the real world.

Accidental learning in the workplace

Knowing what you should do and being able to execute it are two different things. Apprentices pause, move slowly, and appear scared and cautious, particularly when learning new duties. Showing a worker how to do something is not the same as teaching them. True learning occurs when people understand how to do something while utilizing a range of techniques to meet a variety of conditions.

The workplace is a constantly changing setting that necessitates both subtle and drastic modifications depending on the day. Apprentices are exposed to a variety of working settings in all sectors of production. However, experienced professionals usually only teach one technique. It is their preferred strategy, which they use in one typical scenario.

As a result of this strategy, apprentices learn by accident and sustain minor injuries. This technique was backed in this study by experienced workers who believe that this method of learning is probably more efficient than being taught to take precautions to avoid damage. We question this logic. If these behaviors are repeated, safety training is ineffective in preventing workplace injuries.

Apprentices who are exposed to a variety of working approaches and environments expand their expertise. However, being left alone to tackle a problem without assistance can be quite dangerous. They must be mentored and overseen.

Breaking the rules in order to work safely

To accomplish a project, skilled professionals may break a safe work regulation. In this study, both trainees and experienced workers reported circumstances in which a rule was modified to perform a task correctly and safely. In general, experienced personnel were able to design appropriate production and safety management measures. These adoptions were not always clear to young workers.

Risk-taking behavior or rule-breaking is typically viewed as something to be avoided or punished. However, doing so might occasionally help to prevent injury. In this study, rule-breaking happened when work conditions changed and the customary rule put workers in danger. This method appears to be an unavoidable aspect of apprentice learning. Experienced workers appear to be more adept at sidestepping and have fewer mishaps.


This study investigated why safety training does not work by comparing the learning processes of young workers to the safety knowledge of experienced workers. The findings included an inability to expose apprentices to varied work contexts; a limited transfer of knowledge about obvious hazards and safe practice; and a reluctance to teach about safety jargon. The apprentices were only trained one way to do things and were only given limited exposure to different work contexts.

Rule-breaking happened as a result of the changing work environment, and experienced employees had developed self-regulation mechanisms. The apprentices, on the other hand, did not. Apprentices were encouraged to learn from their blunders and minor injuries.

It should be linked with learning avoidance techniques in various situations to facilitate learning. Young workers require guidance and supervision, as well as a diversity of work environments, in order to apply their talents and change their answers. Maybe if we communicate, encourage, and oversee them more, we won’t have cases where our safety training doesn’t function.