Workplace safety might require better employee training

Safety regulations issued by federal and state agencies are intended to make modern workplaces safer and prevent injuries. Yet data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration indicates that many types of injuries are recurring, despite those efforts. As a workers’ compensation attorney might attest, back injuries, eye injuries, and accidents from slips and falls continue to injure many employees in workplaces across America.

Can these categories of injuries be reduced? Said another way, are there no preventative measures that could reduce the consistent pattern of injuries? A recent article suggests that the key to improvement lies in revising the safety training that OSHA requires many employers to provide to their employees.

Current safety training models consist of one or several sessions. However, that approach may not be effective in accomplishing long-term behavioral changes. For starters, overloading employees with every safety regulation is not compatible with how short-term memory works. As a result, most employees remember only a fraction of the information presented in a safety training session.

If employees are expected to apply the new safety techniques taught in a training session, at least one commentator recommends smaller and more frequent sessions. From a cost-benefit perspective, employers might also be willing to try the new model.

Prevention can be cost saving to employers, compared to workers’ compensation claims and any litigation required to resolve disputes. In addition, an employer’s insurer may not always agree that an employee requires more vocational rehabilitation and/or medical care and reimbursed health care expenses before returning to work. 

Source:, “The Future of Safety Training,” Carol Leaman, Sept. 23, 2013

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