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February 25, 2010

NIOSH Review Finds Safety Training Alone is Not Enough

Employee safety training is intended to help reduce workplace injuries, illness and death. But what effect does such training have on workers and businesses? A new review released by NIOSH shows beneficial effects, but also that training alone is not enough to reduce injuries or illness.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in collaboration with the Institute for Work and Health (IWH), Ontario, Canada, conducted a review of recent research in this area and earlier this month released, A Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Training & Education for the Protection of Workers.
The review showed that:
  • Workplace education and training programs have a positive impact on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) practices of workers.
  • There is not enough evidence to show that OHS training on its own has an impact on health (for example, by reducing injuries or symptoms).
  • There is currently insufficient evidence to determine whether a single session of high-engagement training has a greater impact than a single session of low/medium-engagement training.
The report shows that investment in training results in positive changes in worker knowledge and skills, attitudes and behavior. However, it also revealed that training as a lone intervention did not reduce injuries or symptoms. To be effective in preventing occupational injuries and illness, training also requires management commitment and investment and worker involvement in a comprehensive hazard identification and risk management program. 

While other authors present evidence supporting high-engagement training, the NIOSH review of trials published in the last ten years could not confirm that a single session of high-engagement training has a greater effect on behavior than a single session of low/medium-engagement training, as the observed effects were too small.

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