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October 26, 2005
NIOSH Update:

Methods, Importance of Storytelling as a Training Tool in Mine Safety are Described in New Report

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Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749

A new report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) describes the importance of personal storytelling as an effective tool for mine safety and health training.  It also discusses the components of producing successful safety training videos that build on the storytelling tradition, drawing from NIOSH's own experiences in this regard.

"Tell Me a Story: Why Stories are Essential to Effective Safety Training," DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-152, is based on a seven-year research project.  The intent was to develop and assess new materials for training miners in ways to work safely in a challenging and inherently dangerous setting.  The effort was designed to replicate traditional industry practices in which beginning miners are mentored by older, more experienced miners, and to reflect cultural values in mining.

From close interactions with stakeholders in the mining industry, NIOSH developed a plan for new video training materials, worked with miners and mine employers to produce a series of videos on location in mines, largely featuring miners speaking in their own words, and evaluated the effectiveness of the videos in training the intended audience.  The new, illustrated report discusses that process in detail.

The report notes that the innovative training videos:

. Are highly regarded by miners and mine employers, who feel that they provide effective safety training in an engaging, meaningful style and language.

. Fill a need for up-to-date training materials in a field where many such materials were outdated and consequently were viewed by miners as irrelevant.

. Reflect miners' stated preference for learning from experienced mentors in a real setting, not from reading manuals in a traditional, authoritative classroom environment.

. Advance the ability of researchers and educators to assess the success of theoretical safety training principles in actual application.

"What worked in safety training 50, 30, even 10 years ago will not necessarily work today," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D.  "We hope that the new report will provide information that employers, employees, and trainers can assess in determining how to design effective safety training in their own workplaces."

The new report is available at www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/pubs/pdfs/2005-152.pdf.  For further information on the story-based safety training model, contact Elaine Cullen, NIOSH Spokane Research Laboratory, ecullen@cdc.gov . Printed copies of the report are available from Candace Pickett, NIOSH Spokane Research Laboratory, at cpickett@cdc.gov . A listing of NIOSH miner training videos is available at www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/products/#videos .

 
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