The Power of Continuous Learning: How to Build Safe Habits That Last

Continuous learning is the key to driving sustained injury prevention and building a strong and engaged culture. And even in the summer months, when many people go on vacation or take time to slow down and relax, it's important to keep learning new skills, and keep existing skills sharp.

Commonly cited research by NASA states that it takes 30 days to create a new habit and just as long to lose one. Top-performing athletes train this way all the time. The greatest hitters in the big leagues regularly take batting practice to perfect their swing so that when the lights are on, they can go out on the field and make it look effortless. They have to use their bodies correctly all the time, every time, if they're going to win.

The good news for those who are not professional athletes, such as truck drivers and other frontline workers, is that continuous learning doesn't have to be a massive time commitment. Here is a proven strategy for achieving significant safety training results with minimal impact on a company’s operations.

Microlearning—or learning in short, consistent "chunks"—establishes everyday habits without taking an individual off the floor or away from the task at hand. Utilizing microlearning methods in safety training minimizes inefficiency that often occurs when training employees, while still delivering high-quality training in the form of short, consistent learning touchpoints. Over time, the combination of microlearning and consistent practice opportunities ensures that when it's time for an individual to perform a job function—such as lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying—he or she can do it properly and without getting injured.

Participatory Learning
When it comes to retaining learned information, you can't simply watch a video or listen to a lecture in a classroom. It's been proven that more active, participatory learning, whether it's through group practice or teaching others, is the most effective way to retain information. Participatory learning methods in which learners are engaged and actively participating achieve an average learning retention rate of 75-90 percent, according to the National Training Laboratories. Comparatively, learning through passive methods such as audio-visual or live demonstration results in an average learning retention rate of only 20-30 percent. This means that when training members of your organization to avoid injuries, group discussion, group practice, and teaching one another are the best ways to ensure that your team members are maximizing their learning and avoiding injury.

Developing a Common Lexicon
Embedding safety training into the everyday lives of individuals is an effective way to sustain injury prevention and makes teams more safety aware overall. By participating in a shared learning program, employees start to communicate more effectively with one another and feel a sense of empowerment and belonging. Developing this strong affinity and safety culture not only improves productivity by keeping workers safe on the job, but also enables them to live stronger, pain-free lives outside of the workplace. When individuals work in distributed, labor-intensive industries, such as trucking, developing a common lexicon and strong safety culture becomes especially important for their well-being. Having this shared lexicon of safety terms allows truck drivers working at the same company to speak the same language and share their tips about best practices for staying injury free.

By applying these concepts as part of an integrated program for Hub Group Trucking, we were able to build a strong safety culture that resulted in a significant reduction in lost-time injuries and increased driver retention.

Even during the summer months, it's important to remember that learning never stops. Consistent learning is the key to meaningful, lasting change, and the lessons that workers learn and retain will translate into fewer injuries and a better quality of life.

John Leo Post is the co-founder and chief product officer for Worklete, a technology platform that reduces musculoskeletal injuries by 55 percent on average. A renowned movement expert, he has coached with some of the top minds in athletic training, human movement, and behavioral psychology, including gold medalists, CrossFit champions, and professional athletes. He is driven by the mission to make quality movement accessible to all and empower humans to live pain-free lives.

Posted on Jun 17, 2019

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