Face-to-face safety training – what to do when it isn't working

Tess Lynch, 4 min read

Face-to-face training has been useed for decades, centuries even, and for the majority of that time, it’s been pretty effective. So, why might it be less effective for your safety training and, more importantly, what do you do to fix it?

You’re training workers when they need to be trained, you’re following legislation, and you’re meeting compliance, yet despite all this, the same safety mistakes are still happening. If you’re providing the right information, the only issue could be how that information is being delivered.

Let’s look at why this could be an issue.

Check out what Ron Finemore Transport did to improve their safety training!

Why isn’t F2F working like it used to?

Distributed workforce

The working environment of the transportation industry is primarily distributed. It's hard to get everyone in one place, at one time, for long enough to teach anything.

When training is time sensitive, like if there has been a recent safety breach, F2F training doesn’t allow for a quick response. Workers may need to know the information now, but if their halfway across the state in the middle of a long haul drive, that’s impossible.

One and done

This is probably the biggest reason behind F2F being less effective. Most safety training is a one-time, isolated event. While this is almost impossible to avoid with widespread workers, when you’re only taught something once, you don’t learn anything.

One-time training has low knowledge retention and does nothing to help break poor habits.

When workers have been doing their job for 30 years, being told once that they have to do it a new way isn’t going to have much of an impact. They may understand how and why they should change their behaviour, but when returning to work, as everyone would, they go back to what they’ve been doing for the last 30 years.


If you have a large company it may be hard to ensure that your F2F training is consistent across all areas of the business. Individual workers may not receive the attention they need to learn and understand the information, which in turn will mean they won’t be able to apply it when working.

On the flip side, if you have a smaller business, you may not have access to great F2F training. Maybe that’s because you’re not an expert in the area yourself, you can't hire someone to teach you or you don't have the time or resources to spend on training, F2F isn't always practical for small businesses.

(Basically, I’m saying you can only have a medium-sized company).

Why F2F training can still help

You may already have a face-to-face training program and you may not want to completely chuck it out (and you shouldn't!) because, despite what it may sound like above, it isn’t all bad. In fact, it has some significant benefits that you can’t get with other forms of training.


F2F is the only real way to get immediate, personal and, well, face-to-face interaction with workers. It allows workers to ask questions and have discussions with both instructors and peers as training is occurring.

When learning something practical, F2F allows for demonstration and hands-on practice for workers.


F2F also allows you to build a relationship with workers around safety. It opens dialogue and could encourage workers to speak up about safety issues.

When trying to develop a safety culture F2F training may help in making safety a priority throughout the whole business.

How to improve safety with training

None of this solves the problem of how to make your F2F safety training more effective. But, with technology always improving you won’t be short of training options.

Online training is a potential candidate, but we find mobile training to be the most effective – or even better, using mobile training in combination with F2F.

The benefits of mobile training:

  • Accessible anywhere, at any time, from any device. This is most useful when your workers can’t all attend training workshops. As most people have a mobile device, workers can complete training whenever they want. This reduces the disruptions to both work and personal life caused by training.
  • The next generation has grown up with technology, so it makes sense to use that technology to train them. While the industry is ageing, technology and innovation could increase the number of young workers in the industry.
  • Training can be created, adapted and updated at any time. This makes training with a time pressure easy to make and get out to workers
  • Mobile learning is not given to workers in one hit. By using spaced repetition, immediate feedback and interleaving concepts, workers can learn more, knowledge retention can increase and workers can know where they’re excelling and where they need help
  • Fun! Mobile learning can have a gamification aspect which makes it more fun to do – if you’re having a good time, you’re more likely to pay attention.

The way we work is changing, so so must the way we train. While F2F has its benefits, it’s not producing the ideal outcome anymore. Mobile training, while often is an afterthought for safety training, can be instrumental in reducing risk and getting closer to that 'no harm' goal! If you have any other training methods that work for you, let us know!

If you’d like to know more about how mobile learning can help with your safety training, we’d love to chat!

Tess Lynch

Tess Lynch

Tess is a design savant, fashion leader and a pretty darn good writer. Whether it’s creating digital designs, blogging about learning science or rocking a neck-scarf, Tess can pull it off.

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