Safetip #131: Include Microlearning in Your Safety Training

July 04, 2018

Happy 4th of July! This week’s Safetip is about including microlearning in your occupational safety training program.

What is Microlearning?

The effectiveness of traditional classroom-style safety training sessions that can last one or two hours is questioned by some experts, especially given that humans have a short attention span, and therefore may only retain just a small part of the content. Many organizations provide refresher training courses to address the issue. Another solution is to use microlearning, in addition to traditional training sessions. The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) defines microlearning as:

“The delivery of educational content in short, standalone bursts, or modules. Each module comprehensively addresses one learning objective using videos, text, images or audio.”

According to the ASSP, microlearning can be an effective delivery method for employee manuals, improving workplace culture or delivering updates more efficiently. Targeted microlearning offers quick lessons that are easy to access on the go, and is often less expensive and more effective than traditional classes or training, the ASSP says.

Microlearning modules can consist of brief videos accessed through smartphones or tablets, each up to five minutes long, that address common or routine issues, such as how to wear a specific type of personal protective equipment, how to position a ladder, or operate a forklift. The videos can be viewed multiple times to reinforce concepts and make sure workers learn and retain information.

The Benefits of Microlearning

Because microlearning modules are short and can be used repeatedly, they are effective in driving change and improving safety. For example, Walmart rolled out a mobile app to 80,000 of its warehouse and logistics workers that features 3-minute presentations about how to do routine tasks like driving a forklift. Employees are then tested to see if they remember the material. During an initial 6-month experiment with 5,000 employees, the number of injuries reportable to OSHA fell by almost half.

Microlearning also allows organizations to provide prescriptive training in advance of a potential problem. Here’s a great example from an EHS Today article consisting of a high-rise construction worker in a city with big temperature changes: The worker wears a safety harness when working on the upper floors of a building. In cooler weather when the worker wears more clothing, the safety harness is adjusted to fit differently than when the weather is warmer and workers wear less clothing. But the worker may not always readjust the safety harness so it fits properly. To address this, the construction company can distribute a microlearning video to workers before a big change in the weather is forecast to occur, with the goal of training employees about proper procedures for using a safety harness.

Other benefits of microlearning include:

  • Flexibility: workers can view videos through mobile devices in five minutes or less, and use educational content wherever they are.
  • Specificity: Instead of trying to fully understand complex topics, microlearning makes it possible to locate and grasp specialized information on-demand.

More Information

Check out these articles for more information:

Visit Enablon Insights again next Wednesday for a new Safetip!

View the recording of our webinar “From Compliance to Pro-Active Safety with Mobility” to learn how Lendlease, a global leader in construction and real estate, is leveraging mobility to encourage workers to report observations:

Webinar: From Compliance to Pro-Active Safety with Mobility