Improving On-the-Job Safety with Online Training

Training Industry Exclusive, October 10, 2011

By: Chad Hoke, October 10, 2011

It is easy to forget how dangerous the workplace can be – especially in the high-stakes world of construction and building maintenance. Tragically, this week alone 88 workers are likely to die in construction-related accidents and a staggering 63,461 are likely to get injured!  With better training, a surprisingly high percentage of these casualties of work are preventable – and when businesses and employees work together to improve safety, the payoff is huge.

For workers, the fallout from an injury can range from inconvenience to catastrophe. Even a common back injury can trigger a spiral of unpaid bills, job loss and family stress.  More serious injuries can devastate a lifetime of savings.  Not only are injuries unfortunate for workers, they are also expensive for businesses. One large powerline commercial contractor based in the Pacific Northwest found that his company’s average cost for one on-the-job injury, such as a burn, fall, pinched finger or hand, to be $26,000. That number adds up quickly and can result in high costs for businesses, negatively impacting their bottom line.

Injuries also take a bite out of company productivity, taking employees away from the jobsite or workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls are the second-most leading cause of time away from work — 13 days on average. This time away adversely affects both the employee and employer.

Training is a key to preventing these annoying-at-best and devastating-at-worst injuries. Some states (such as New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri and Nevada) require Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training for all construction contracts and public work projects.

No matter your state’s requirements, safety training is an important part of any job, especially in the construction, electrical and manufacturing industries.

Unfortunately, safety training is all-too-often overlooked because it can be inconvenient. Workers have to rearrange their schedules to sit in classrooms for hours, or even over multiple days, to fulfill training requirements. This can cause training to fall by the wayside because there aren’t always enough hours in the day, or the class is only offered at a time that doesn’t work with an employee’s (or employer’s) schedule.

But thanks to modern technology, hundreds of safety courses are now available online, including many OSHA-approved courses. Gone are the days of simply clicking through a boring slideshow online and calling it “e-learning.” Online training courses have changed dramatically in the last few years and many now feature sophisticated learning technologies such as interactive games, quizzes and product simulations. With the right Learning Management System (LMS), e-learning courses can include these and other features (such as videos or tools to enable real-time collaboration among multiple learners), to keep employees engaged and promote learning.

The more engaged a learner is, the more likely he/she is to retain that knowledge. And knowledge is power when it comes to safety training.

An online course is a much more convenient option for learners as well. As opposed to traditional training courses offered in-person, their online counterparts are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere with an Internet connection. The learner is also able to take the course at his or her own pace, spending as much time as necessary on new or complicated theories instead of being subject to the needs of 30 other people. Which would you prefer?

With some LMS platforms, the course doesn’t even need to be completed in one sitting. Learners can take as many, or as few, breaks as needed to finish. Participants can also revisit courses and learned materials to ensure crucial safety skills are up-to-date (such as fall prevention techniques). Certain LMS platforms will also report completion results directly to the state board or OSHA (where applicable) for the learner, ensuring seamless license renewal.

There are certainly e-learning skeptics who claim that e-learning isn’t as effective as an in-person course. However, the U.S. Department of Education has found that people who learn online generally perform better than attendees of in-person courses.

Proper training is essential to the workplace and on-the-job safety and online learning is a smart way to complete it. It’s more convenient for the learner, enables stronger knowledge retention and, most importantly, keeps everyone safer on the job.

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2 comments on “Improving On-the-Job Safety with Online Training
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