MONDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Hands-on training helps improve the safety awareness and behavior of workers in highly hazardous jobs, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data on 24,694 workers in 16 countries who took part in 113 safety training studies conducted since 1971. The workers' jobs were categorized according to their potential for severe illness, injury or death.

In jobs where the risk of injury or death was highest, more engaging training (such as hands-on instruction, behavioral modeling and simulation) was much more effective in helping workers learn about safety and perform safely on the job than less engaging training (such as lectures, films, reading materials and videos).

But the researchers also said that less engaging training can be just as effective as more engaging training in promoting safety among workers with less dangerous jobs.

The study appears in the January issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

"The primary psychological mechanism we can offer as an explanation for these results is something called the 'dread factor.' In a more interactive training environment, the trainees are faced more acutely with the possible dangers of their job and they are, in turn, more motivated to learn about such dangers and how to avoid them," lead author Michael Burke, of Tulane University, said in a news release from the American Psychological Association.

Hands-on and other interactive safety training is more expensive than less engaging training but is worth the investment, concluded the researchers.

More information

The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has more about workplace safety and health.