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The future of safety training and knowledge retention in the resources sector

Friska Wirya Principal Owner, Fresh by Friska
· 1200 words, 5 min read
Man using a smart phone

Have you ever wondered why, with all the millions of dollars ploughed into safety – through policies, frameworks and systems – injuries and fatalities still occur in the mining industry?

Many incidents are due to ineffective communication, mismatched expectations and lack of knowledge. These pain points can be easily resolved with better training – not just any old training but one that uses proven psychology principles and the latest tech to firmly embed behavioural change.

Traditional safety training is not getting the behavioural change we want. Some of the issues with the current training paradigm include:

  • Knowledge gaps: If a worker doesn’t know what they don’t know, it’s impossible to address these gaps and proactively find ways to upskill.
  • Delivery methods: Standard safety workshops and eLearning modules often aren’t delivered in a way that suits remote workers, who don’t sit behind a desk.
  • Lack of meaningful follow-up: Training is rarely reinforced, with the majority of organisations adopting a ‘one-and-done’ approach (especially around compliance training), which is more about box checking rather than sustaining behavioural change, reducing accidents and improving safety in a workplace.
  • Unattractive presentation: Lastly, traditional training tends to be uninspired and can often be outdated.

What can be done?

Have you heard of Duolingo or Couch to 5K? Both these apps dominated their respective markets – learning a foreign language and changing couch potatoes into 5K runners – through a concept called microlearning.

A company who is using this same logic in the corporate training and knowledge retention field is Yarno.

Yarno offers a digital microlearning platform for employee education that has demonstrated sustained behavioural change in the utilities, logistics, and oil and gas industries.

The Yarno training system revolves around the concept of employees receiving 2-3 training questions a day, and being tasked to complete them in 2-3 minutes. This bite-sized format makes training much less onerous.

Furthermore, Yarno makes the most of the fact that workers are super competitive – not only among their own departments, but with other teams as well. The platform focuses on employing gamification to add a competitive element, via leaderboards, points, badges and prizes. The aim was to create a habit get people wanting to return each day to complete their Yarno quiz. The competition creates engagement and further embeds knowledge.

What is gamification?

“The application of typical elements of game playing (eg point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.”

Oxford Dictionary via Lexico

Training is no longer stale. As a change and transformation expert, I know behavioural change cannot occur by boring someone. Yarno makes training fun and dynamic, eliminating the painful once a year ‘box checking’ exercise and instead influencing gradual behavioural change in less than three minutes a day.

How does microlearning work?

When we attend a traditional in-classroom training session, we can lose around 90 per cent of what we learned after a month (for more information, look up the ‘Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve’, named after the 19th century psychologist who studied memory). Instead of a conventional classroom approach, Yarno reinforces and embeds learning over time, using the concept of ’spaced repetition’ (Carpenter et al, 2012; Kang, 2016).

Research by Murre and Dros shows that we learn best when we’re repeatedly exposed to knowledge and skills over time (2015). The practice of regularly returning to previously learnt concepts creates new learning pathways, strengthening long-term memory. For example, teachers can quickly incorporate a brief review of what was covered several weeks earlier into ongoing lessons, or use homework to re-expose students to previous concepts.

A study by Shail shows students who cram for final exams lose much of their memory within a few weeks, yet students who learn slowly with continuous reinforcement can capture skills and knowledge for decades (2019).

Workplace training is no different.

Case studies

We’ve often heard content is king. This holds true in the learning and development space.

Organisations who focus on creating exceptional content get the best results, and are therefore more likely to see behavioural change – especially in the safety space. This means taking an organisation’s standard operating procedures, safe work method statements or safety procedures and creating real-life scenarios a worker is likely to encounter. This relevance and relatability is what promotes critical thinking and knowledge embedment. Coupled with the power of microlearning, a more effective way of teaching employees can be achieved. 

Yarno points to the following companies who have made use of its microlearning platform and achieved positive training outcomes.

Safety training

Following adoption of the microlearning platform, Ron Finemore Transport reported two thirds reduction in dropped trailers. Yarno-inducted drivers also performed higher 12 months later, and there were zero reported incidents involving Yarno-inducted drivers.

A petroleum carrier reported reduced incidents by 76 per cent in the 3 months following a Yarno campaign; and there have been reduced crossovers by 100 per cent in the past 10 months – ie they haven’t had a single occurrence since the last crossover campaign. (A crossover is where a fuel operator/petrol tanker driver puts the wrong fuel from the truck tank into the wrong tank in the ground at a service station).

Product training

Interestingly, the learning method works beyond safety training, and has benefits for other areas of businesses too. Following microlearning, Super Cheap Auto reported an uplift in their Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 9 points in just 6 weeks and 47 per cent of stores exceeded sales targets for the period. NPS score in the paint and panel category is now at its highest ever, and there was an increase in like-for-like sales for products trained via Yarno.

Potential applications to the mining industry

Shorter attention spans, the acceleration of all things digital, real-time learning. These are all elements which need to be considered to encourage behavioural change and help make a difference to safety outcomes.

Safety can make or break a mine’s sustainability. Imagine empowering employees to choose when, where and how they upskill. In the mess hall, in the admin building, down time before they go to sleep. Every single person – regardless of industry – can spare 3 minutes. And with the accessibility of this training via mobiles, tablets and PCs, it is an opportunity to improve safety and compliance in the resources sector.

Like any change, it’s what sustained that counts. The results achieved will not last without structured and ongoing reinforcement. The best tool is set to forever be just a desktop icon if there is no effective change management to ensure it becomes the new norm. This holds true now and into the future.


Carpenter S, Wiseheart M, Rohrer D, Kang S and Pashler H, 2012. Using Spacing to Enhance Diverse Forms of Learning: Review of Recent Research and Implications for Instruction. Educational Psychology Review, 2:369–378.

Kang S, 2016. Spaced Repetition Promotes Efficient and Effective Learning: Policy Implications for Instruction. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3(1):12-19.

Murre J M and Dros J, 2015. Replication and Analysis of Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve. PLOS ONE, 10(7).

Shail M S, 2019. Using Micro-learning on Mobile Applications to Increase Knowledge Retention and Work Performance: A Review of Literature. Cureus, 11(8).  


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