The ABC’s of Safety

Spaced Education – the ABC’s of Safety

For many, the fact that they are required to participate in safety training seems like enough to demand of people. We are all busy. Clearly we care about safety, but why do we have to participate in ongoing training through safety bulletins, alerts, flyers, etc? Is there a reason other than keeping the issue in front of us? After all, didn’t we learn what we needed in the safety meeting, let alone back in grade school? We know what to look for when we are out on the road – or do we?

The response to these questions is fairly simple and straightforward, and it is based on research that first appeared in the late 1800s. The research showed that repetition of important information in small bits, over time, is the most effective way for human beings to remember and use that information effectively. Having discovered this, we learned the importance of requiring continuing education using training bulletins.

Awareness - Not Training

Receiving a regular safety message constitutes an ongoing "awareness" program. It raises the issue of safety and provides information that elevates a driver’s awareness about the nature and scope of the issue. The purpose is to lay the groundwork to create safer environments for drivers, the workplace, pedestrians and the general public.

Awareness does just that—raises awareness. Training goes beyond awareness and educates people to use the information presented in an effective and productive way. No matter your level of awareness, without training to integrate the information into your view of life, it will simply be bits of information that are available when something or someone brings it to your attention.

Training is a necessary part of the process of creating a safe environment. Training can occur in many ways. The company can require additional safety meetings or conduct tailgate sessions to further examine and apply the information provided.

"Spaced education"

A great deal of respected research explains the effectiveness of a process called "spaced education." Spaced education refers to a process that begins by presenting the broader subject in an awareness format and then establishes follow-up information, delivered over time in smaller pieces, to reinforce the message. Researchers say that this is the most effective way for people to retain and use new information.

The theories of German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, who researched the world of memory in the late 1800s laid the groundwork for the new research studies related to interval-based online education. The primary researcher in this area is B. Price Kerfoot, M.D., and professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. He has conducted extensive research into "spaced education." That is, coursework delivered over time and repeated at intervals through an online process. According to this research, online education that presents information in small bites and reinforces it over time is a highly effective way to educate adults.

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