Staff training for high-consequence industries

For some businesses, “staff training” means sitting down to a video about cyber awareness or a tutorial about the new chat app. For others, it can mean the difference between life and death. In high-consequence industries, the right training for the right person can avert a disaster, even save lives. But with more technologies, methodologies and compliance requirements appearing every other day, there is more pressure on businesses than ever in the arena of staff training.
If you’re a learning and development professional operating within a high-consequence industry, the following information will arm you with the knowledge you need to drive successful staff training.

What is a high-consequence industry?

Depending on where you are in the world, “high consequence” can have different meanings, either legally or statistically. Defining your business as high-consequence or otherwise is the first step in determining your staff training requirements.


USA high-consequence industries

The United States Bureau of Statistics has recorded the following industries as having abnormally high numbers of fatal work injuries:

  • Construction

  • Transportation and warehousing

  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting

  • Government

  • Manufacturing

  • Retail trade

  • Leisure and hospitality

As such, if your business has the potential for hazards or is a part of the mentioned industries, you can assume that you also have the potential for being considered high consequence.


New Zealand high-consequence industries

According to the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 2016, any business that is part of the following industries is considered high risk:

  • Aquaculture

  • Forestry and logging

  • Coal mining

  • Food product manufacturing

  • Construction services

More generally, your business is “high risk” if there is an increased chance of serious harm and death from the type of work done.

Quality assurance and compliance

While health and safety concerns are understandably first and foremost among the minds of business owners in high-consequence industries, quality assurance is a close second.


Why quality assurance is important to high-consequence industries

A consistent level of quality in products or services from a high-consequence industry is key to ensuring the business remains responsible and sustainable.
Consider a poor quality build in construction, or a poor quality service in health care. The former could lead to an unlivable or dangerous home or commercial building, while the latter could directly result in loss of life. Quality assurance is integral as there are no second chances.
To enforce quality assurance, businesses must provide sufficient training and development programs so employees can do their jobs properly. This way, all employees are responsible for doing their respective jobs to the very best of their abilities.

What does it mean to be compliant?

Every industry has its laws and regulations. Financial services are subject to regulators on the hunt for nefarious business practices, while energy suppliers are watched by government regulators to ensure environmental compliance.

However, every time you step over a border or even over a state line, your business is now beholden to a different set of laws, standards and expectations.

For example, both Australia and the United States have federal laws as well as state laws. Australia has Worksafe Australia, but also individual state-level Worksafe branches as well. New Zealand, on the other hand, only has the one: Worksafe NZ. But even in these cases, different regional governments may have different expectations.

How eLearning helps trainers ensure quality assurance and compliance

In an environment with such demands on your staff, how do you take control of your training? eLearning is a common solution, for a variety of reasons:



The combination of simulated and scenario-based eLearning allows trainers to quickly and effectively disseminate any training required to ensure improved onboarding, professional development, and compliance with adjustments to legislation.

Improved retention

Improved retention

Losing staff can affect the quality and ability to remain compliant. eLearning minimizes these dangers by helping to retain staff members by providing them with much-desired professional growth and helping onboard new team members faster.



eLearning gives trainers the opportunity to standardize their training, ensuring that everybody has a minimum level of skill, and provide instant, direct and actionable feedback. This allows trainees to learn the material faster and avoids generic feedback.



As technology and knowledge grows in complexity, new laws and processes come into use. Staff must be upskilled rapidly, no matter how or where they learn. eLearning provides the flexibility to keep people updated without breaking the bank or leaving anyone behind.

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Common risks in high consequence industries

Medical device manufacturing

Businesses in medical device manufacturing need to constantly be on top of changing compliance issues, such as the regularly adjusted ISOs.

This requires personnel to be regularly reinformed and retrained as to what regulations they are now being held to. This industry is particularly high-consequence from the production of the device through to the salespeople who sell the product.


Every part of an aircraft and every person in any aviation team is held to extremely high licensing and regulatory standards.

The sheer volume of these standards and laws, as well as the rigor to which people and parts are held to in being compliant, requires staff members to have an enormous body of knowledge - not an easy thing to achieve across a new, large and/or untrained team.

Health care

Health care practitioners and workers are regularly exposed to harmful chemicals, diseases and injuries, many of which have incredibly high consequences should they not be dealt with effectively and quickly.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to train people to respond to these scenarios. Emotions play a significant part in the response to a needlestick or a chemical spill, for example, and it is difficult to find a way to express the calmness required through theory alone.


Logistics as an industry is home to a lot of hazards: dangerous chemicals, dangerous machines, falls, slips, electrical problems, fuel spills; all of which require immediate and effective attention.

Similar to health care, training in dealing with these hazards cannot effectively be done purely in theory. In addition, the subsector of logistics you are in (land, air, or marine) will have its own unique risks that generic training won’t be able to cover easily.


A lack of training can result in short-term injury (such as poor adherence to safety procedures) or long-tail compliance issues (such as building defects).

Without the opportunity to immediately correct and learn from a mistake, the bar for construction needs to be extremely high: a misplaced nail, bolt, joist or simply an ill-thought-out design could result in serious danger and damage. What’s more, many building sites are unique, making a general training regimen difficult to apply effectively.


Franchisors provide the entire framework for a franchisee to work around, bringing with it methodologies and rules that must be adhered to at risk of failing to comply with the franchisors expectations and standards.

There needs to be thorough consistency across the entire staff base, something that could be difficult to train when there could be any number of trainers over the course of the business’ lifetime.


Changes in the way that power is distributed and alternative forms of power and the general switchover to more environmentally friendly power solutions has resulted in a large number of staff members having an out of date skillset.

This requires people to be upskilled rapidly in order to remain compliant and ensure safety for the provider’s clients: failure here isn’t just damage to their own business, but to every business that relies on them for electricity and water.

What all high-consequence industries have in common

All high consequence industries have the potential of resulting in one or more of the following outcomes in the training context:
  • There is a risk of injury or death should the training not be thorough enough to avoid accidents.
  • There must be consistency to ensure a minimum standard of training.
  • There are ripple effects on the wider community should there be issues in the training and problems occur as a result.

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eLearning offers a lot to high-consequence industries, but there are some methods that must be followed to get the most out of it.

This includes:
  • Regular review and adjustment according to learners’ progress.
  • Updates according to new risks, technologies, and compliance requirements.
  • Top-down training that begins with the C-suite.
  • Allowing full training to complete before sending teams out into the field.
Training staff in high-consequence industries like construction, health care, logistics, aviation and many others requires a steady hand and consistent, high quality methods of imparting information. Failing in this arena could mean loss of quality, compliance and, worst of all, life.
While there is an enormous amount of pressure on learning and development professionals in this arena, eLearning offers a solution that is effective, efficient and, best of all, low-risk.


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