The onset of Industry 4.0 which is the combination of traditional manufacturing with the current trend of digitization has led to a new set of challenges for the safety practices in manufacturing organizations. The new terminology is “Cyber Physical Systems” and involves a whole new set of safety technologies, equipments and approaches,  which the safety officers and safety teams need to get familiar with.

Some of the new digital equipment ranges are:
•Drones and robots
•Wearables for workers,
•Proximity sensors for vehicles
•Smart Personal Protective Equipment/s (SPPE)

So how do you familiarize your employees with this new digital technologies? ……………….

The most common way is through safety manuals, induction training, on the job training as well as safety e-learning.

Well you will agree with me that one of the greatest challenges in safety training or safety e-learning is holding the attention span of workers to keep them focused on the subject matter. The ultimate objective of course is to promote a synergized safety culture. 

Another challenge is that in manufacturing organizations, there are various safety training topics that the shop floor workers need to attend and it varies according to the industry. For example, the safety training requirements of employees working in a hazardous chemical plant will be different from that of a textile manufacturing.

As if this was not sufficient…… most learners perceive a typical safety e-learning to be long, boring and difficult to follow.

In the midst of the challenges, here comes the good news…………………

Gone are the days of full length safety e-learning involving at least 30-45 minutes of seat time. Microlearning for safety training is being adopted as a whole new approach, which is likely to lead to a bigger impact and future proof solution. The crux of this approach is to create shorter, focused and on the go modules leveraging smartphones, tablets and personal devices to access and learn the safety information. Many times, microlearning courses are simple topic sections of a greater safety training course. These condensed topics can then be assigned for learners to complete.

With the growth of eLearning and other forms of online safety training, employers are looking to find ways to expedite the training process while also keeping it memorable and engaging. As we’ve seen in the past few years, companies are stepping away from the traditional means of training (DVDs) and are looking for streamlined, eLearning solutions. Microlearning looks to be the new move and, honestly, we can see why so?

Some of the generic and popular safety training programs in a manufacturing organization are:

•Dealing with personal protective equipments
•Dealing with Fatigue
•Dealing with Stress
•Device Distractions
•Distracted Driving
•Handwashing
•Health And Wellness
•Winter Driving
•Fire Safety
•Electrical Safety
•Workplace Safety Awareness

In this blog, my objective is to understand how to successfully use microlearning as a learning strategy in the various area of safety training in a manufacturing set up. To know about the benefits of microlearning as a learning strategy, you can read the blog here.

1.Find The Core Safety Idea Around Which Microlearning Will Be Based

Most organizations do create a safety training but without focusing on the core idea and whether the core idea is matching the organizational goals. For example, if an organization has a large number of fire accidents, a microlearning on how to operate fire extinguishers or how to evacuate the shop floor etc.is ok but it does not help in the ultimate organizational goal of creating a safe and fireproof factory. On the other hand, if a microlearning module is created on the core safety idea of “fire prevention measures” and educating employees on how to manage the situations, equipments and processes effectively so that it prevents fire accidents, can prove to be a more effective strategy from microlearning perspective.

In addition to identifying the core idea, microlearning for safety training should also be prioritized. Microlearning is a series of steps, and each step should precede some steps and follow others. Identifying and prioritizing these steps foster better strategic thinking than most other approaches to safety.

2.Use Microlearning In Combination With The Full Safety Training

Microlearning for safety training should be used in conjunction with full safety e-learning either done in the traditional classroom way or e-learning. This combination ensures that you derive best of both worlds, where you have a full safety training, which helps you to explain the concepts and fundamentals and microlearning which focuses around the core idea and helps the workers on the go or just in time.
Microlearning for safety training should not be viewed as a stand alone intervention but instead should be used to reinforce the learning periodically. For example, if an organization conducted a training on how to safe handle the safety harnesses when working from heights, then microlearning animated videos can reinforce the critical parts of such training.

3.Effective Use Of Instructional Design Model While Designing Microlearning

While designing microlearning for safety training it is important to apply the principles of instructional design like Bloom’s Taxonomy. As most of you may be aware this instructional design models include three domains where learning occurs: cognitive, psychomotor and affective. In the cognitive domain, there are six levels of function: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation/judgment. Most organizations want their employees not only to know what to do and understand it at a comprehension level, but to be able to apply the new learning or skill on the job.

From a cognitive perspective, microlearning for safety training offers several benefits. Microlearning promotes micro skill and awareness-level learning, enhancing comprehension of specialized, individual tasks that either are stand-alone, or part of a larger content. For example, a personal protective equipment training typically lasts over a few days. While microlearning would be ineffective for training workers about such a comprehensive subject. it can be very effective for a specific topic like wearing safety glasses or hearing protection equipments, thus enabling an organization to target and customize the microlearning to a specific work environment within an organization.

Further, microlearning enhances retention of training that is offered to workers. The biggest fear of classroom training is that workers will forget important material soon after a session. Microlearning assists with learning sustainability by making an abstract point concrete for learners and demonstrating how a procedure that is taught applies to a worker’s daily job. Take, for example, hazardous material handling training can be reinforced frequently by letting the workers access a small video snippet or a micro game to test their awareness about the topic.

4.Make learning sustainable

Microlearning for safety training should be built around the idea of making safety e-learning sustainable through the use of microlearning initiatives.
As discussed in the earlier part of this post, microlearning should be used in combination with traditional training or e-learning mainly to reinforce the learning.To achieve this microlearning modules should be planned in a step by step approach with each step corresponding with one specific micro skill or learning objective.

These are some of the best ways to use microlearning for safety training. Feel free to share your comments and valuable suggestions.