Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Online and Computer-Based Safety Training

For many years now the trend in workplace training has slowly been moving away from traditional classroom training. The trend has consistently been moving toward Online or other Computer-Based Training.

According to a 2012 research report by Training Magazine, "The research also notes that slightly more than 45% of training hours are performed in the classroom, 27% is delivered with blended learning techniques, 24.7% is delivered via online or computer-based technologies, and 1.1% is delivered via mobile devices." These numbers show a decisive trend toward computer-based training.

The shift away from classroom training and towards computer-based training has recently lead OSHA to again emphasize that the "use of computer-based training by itself would not be sufficient to meet the intent of the standard's various training requirements." This statement comes from an internal OSHA directive to it's compliance officers (inspectors) (CPL 02-02-079 - July 9, 2015). This very direct statement is found in the instructions to CSHOs (inspectors) and clearly indicates that computer-based training by itself is NOT SUFFICIENT and would result in a Serious Violation of the OSHA regulations.

Why is OSHA taking such a firm stance against online and computer-based training? Well, the answer is simple. OSHA believes that the ability to ask questions and get an immediate response is vitally important and while workplace training in other subjects (not safety related) may be acceptable via computer-based technologies, it is not sufficient when employee safety is at risk.

So what method does OSHA recommend? OSHA says this, "This can be accomplished in many ways (audiovisuals, classroom instruction, interactive video), and should include an opportunity for employees to ask questions to ensure that they understand the information presented to them."

OSHA also adds this comment regarding language: "Furthermore, the training must be comprehensible. If the employees receive job instructions in a language other than English, then the training and information... will also need to be conducted in a foreign language."

What does this mean for most employers? For many years employers have turned to their workplace supervisors to conduct the needed training. Most of the time, supervisors or safety directors can simply use a topic specific training program like those available from National Safety Compliance (www.nationalsafetycompliance.com). These DVD training programs are specifically designed to meet the OSHA requirements for training and always include the needed printable handouts, certificates and training documents. All programs are even available in Spanish.

The trainer simply needs to:
1. Show the DVD
2. Provide workplace specific information (i.e. where is the First Aid Kit?)
3. Answer any questions (i.e. where is the SDS binder?)
4. Give the included quiz (and grade it)
5. Document the training (using the forms & certificate)

Following these steps will help your company avoid a fine from OSHA regarding inadequate computer-based training.

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