Online Safety Training — The Next Big Thing?

Online Safety Training — The Next Big Thing?

By David DeMoss

In our last post, we discussed the necessity for proper safety training in the workplace. Fortunately, advanced technology has created an answer for this situation — on demand and learning management systems (LMS). On Demand systems provide training on a per use basis with no records kept of usage per employee or company. LMS are a little more advanced. They allow historic record keeping per employee and company. Both types of systems allow employees to receive proper safety training without employers having to be physically present. But not all software programs are created equal. When looking into which system to use, there are a few things to look out for. 

First and foremost, look at what content is covered within the program. Finding systems that come in multiple languages and cover a wide range of safety topics, including basic first-aid, slips, trips, and falls, blood-borne pathogens, etc., is key. Employers should also look out for how often the program is updated and how easy it is to use; if it’s not updated often or isn’t user-friendly, it won’t be very helpful. Furthermore, it is important to anticipate technological problems — always being prepared for technology to fail will help avoid any setbacks if the situation were to arise. If it does fail, how reliable is the customer support for the system? These are all significant questions that will help to ensure that training goes smoothly and that employees are fully prepared. More from Matt Hesemann on LMS below.

The traditional methods of in-person or classroom training will always have their place, but obstacles related to geographic disparity, the emergence of telecommuting, and other factors have added to the challenges faced by employers attempting to implement safety training across their organizations. Technology has answered the need with one concept in particular: the learning management system (LMS). At its core, an LMS is software used to deliver and track online training. The following are five key factors to keep in mind when diving into the world of online safety training.

1. Keep an eye on content

Paired with a good content library, an LMS can serve as an efficient and engaging method to train employees on a plethora of safety-related topics. Often available in multiple languages, some of the more popular course topics include blood-borne pathogens, basic first aid and personal protective equipment, as well as the ever-relevant topic of slips, trips and falls. As developers understand the value of fulfilling regulatory requirements, course content is often developed with specific regulatory requirements in mind.

There are volumes of content available on all sorts of health and safety topics, but not all content libraries are created equal. Before deciding on an e-learning provider, it’s important to preview the content. E-learning providers often pride themselves on the quality of their content, but in some instances it can be drastically outdated and practically irrelevant. If the educational material is outdated, is it really of any use? If the coursework features imagery from the 1980s, how does that impact the credibility of the content being presented? How often are courses updated? Does the content offer imagery related to my specific industry or occupation? These are all worthwhile questions to consider.

2. Look for ease of use

If you can’t figure out how to use the e-learning system, will you use it? The administrative side of an LMS will be the place from which trainings are assigned, tracked, and reported on, so the system’s ease-of-use is paramount. Without an intuitive system, an administrator could spend countless hours struggling with how to best populate rosters, assign coursework, build reports and notify trainees of pending assignments.

3. Consider ongoing customer support

Although many companies will provide onboarding support initially, eventually service efficiency can stagnate, if not disappear altogether. If the group of employees trained to administer the system leave the company or change roles, another group will have to learn the ins and outs of the system. If the system isn’t somewhat easy to learn, you will be left with a system that no one knows how to use.

Even though most LMS companies provide user manuals and other supportive material, you should still verify that the prospective provider is committed to excellence in customer support. As with any significant purchase, look for testimonials or seek out the candid thoughts of current system users.

4. Anticipate technology problems

“We apologize for the technical difficulties…” Heard this before? Technical problems arise. It’s no fun to establish and launch a training curriculum only to discover that the system-generated email that was supposed to inform employees of a training due date was blocked by a junk mail filter. Or, maybe the notification goes out, but as employees login to take the training, the login page is undergoing maintenance.

Additionally, for some organizations, not all employees have adequate internet bandwidth or the minimum technical requirements to support certain systems. Challenges related to browser capability can also surface. LMS providers typically design content to run optimally on one specific internet browser (for example, Google Chrome, MS Edge or Safari). If an organization’s preferred browser is different than that of the LMS, it can lead to a headache for all users.

5. Plan for blended learning

Micro-learning and blended learning are hot topics in the field of e-learning these days. Both are emergent strategies being refined to more effectively train employees across organizations, and both are worth exploring. Speaking of blended learning, in July of 2019, OSHA reiterated that online and video-based training is not enough to satisfy OSHA training obligations. It seems for now, some mixture of old-fashioned hands-on training still has its place in the business world. Nevertheless, while training styles evolve, the numerous benefits and uses of these platforms will continue to provide organizations with a great way to deliver safety training, foster a strong culture of safety, and effectually produce more engaged, impactful employees.

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