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Health and safety behaviour – and the changing of it – stems from the belief that nobody should suffer an injury at work. In an ideal world, employers would set out the health and safety practices that staff must follow, and staff would do so to the letter. All near misses would be reported, and there would be no injuries, incidents or accidents.

In reality, this is not always the case. It does not matter if you have perfectly comprehensive policies and procedures in place if employees are still engaging in unsafe behaviour.

So, how can employers motivate workers to practise safe behaviour? We unpick the role of training and e-learning in improving a culture of health and safety, and how you can subsequently determine and measure their impact.

HSE e-learning and behaviour change

Awareness and knowledge are the first stages of health and safety behaviour change, which can be achieved through training and e-learning.

However, learners complete e-learning for different reasons. For some, it may be mandated by their organisation. For others, driven by a curiosity to learn. Regardless of intention, there is often a risk that following the training, behaviour does not change.

Adding more content to the course to increase comprehension will only result in cognitive overload, and in many cases, a lack of understanding is not the reason behind a lack of behaviour change. They know what to do, they are just not doing it.

How can employers ensure HSE e-learning brings about positive behaviour change?

There are several steps you can take before, during, and following the training to ensure it stimulates effective change in behaviour.


  • Talk to learners ahead of the course to assess their needs, motivations and frustrations
  • Tell learners what you expect from them following the course, in such a way that makes them accountable to achieve results
  • Use a “what is in it for me?” message, so employees understand how the benefits will directly affect them
  • Create a dependable and comprehensive training roadmap so learners know what to expect.


  • Engage learners using animations, tests and quizzes
  • Create personalised learning
  • Incorporate simulations
  • Show learners what the correct or appropriate behaviour is, and enable them to apply that correct behaviour in controlled conditions
  • Ensure you cater to all learning styles
  • Keep training succinct and streamlined
  • Reinforce learning through microlearning
  • Tell a story to make the training relatable.


  • Ensure frequent communication between supervisors and workers post-training
  • Gather data from tests on the success of e-learning
  • Collect feedback from learners to understand what worked well, what did not and what to change next time.

Ultimately, it boils down to replacing old behaviour with safer practices through positive feedback, repetition and reinforcement, and leveraging a learner’s own self-interest to develop and improve. These steps will help cement and reinforce the learning to provoke behaviour change.

How can you measure the impact of HSE e-learning?

There are several points to consider in relation to how the training has impacted the individual, their job role, and the wider business function.

It can be useful to follow an established training evaluation program, such as the Kirkpatrick Model. This involves assessing participants’ reactions to the training, then measuring the learning that took place and the behavioural changes that were put into practice in the workplace.

However, it is not always necessary to follow a prescriptive approach. Ultimately, there are several outcomes that should be given consideration: 

  1. Identify the expected goals and outcomes of the training
  2. Measure the participant reaction
  3. Measure what information was learned, and how much was retained
  4. Determine what behavioural changes were translated into the workplace
  5. Assess the wider business impact.

For each outcome theme, both the manager and the participant should answer a set of reflective questions.

Once managers understand the impact of the training, this can inform subsequent training programs to ensure their future effectiveness.

Next steps

Health and safety behaviours can be improved when employees are proactive about change, engage with training, and collaborate with employers to complete work safely.

In turn, accidents, incidents and injuries are reduced and businesses minimise their risk of being fined due to negligence.

So, it is in everyone’s interest to promote a culture of safety, and it is simple to do so by utilising effective e-learning.

Q-Pulse WorkRite

Ideagen’s Q-Pulse WorkRite software offers a range of e-learning courses that are designed to improve health and safety behaviour in your organisation.

Download brochure now




Ideagen's Sophie Willink
Written by

Sophie Willink

As Ideagen’s Content Marketing Executive, Sophie produces informative content to provide customers with digestible insights into the world of quality, audit, risk and compliance.

With a background in psychology, Sophie is passionate about understanding human behaviour and the role technology can play in measuring, reporting and improving behaviours to create higher quality business environments.