We believe the best way to provide EHS training to your workers is to use a blended learning solution, mixing and matching the different types of training (instructor-led, field-based OJT, video, e-learning, written materials, social learning, webinars, etc.).
When selecting the type of training to use for each training need, you shouldn’t select randomly. Instead, you’ll want to look at the benefits and downsides of each training type, and try to find a match between training type and training need.
With that in mind, here’s a quick list of some advantages of online EHS training:
1. Spend Less Time & Money Creating EHS Training Materials
Many companies think it’s cheaper to create training materials on their own instead of having a training provider do it.
It sounds reasonable at first — you’ve got experts in-house who know everything your employees need to know, right? Maybe you can have your EHS manager and some engineers work together on it?
But what sounds like a good idea, in theory doesn’t always turn out that way in practice. Especially when you consider the costs of producing training, the cost of removing experts from their real jobs, and the cost of having training developed by people who aren’t experts in training development.
Assume the direct costs of paying your EHS manager and an engineer for a year are $125,000 each, or a total of $250,000/year. Next, assume that each spends a total of six months creating EHS training materials for your workforce (although it could easily take more than that). That’s more than $125,000 right there.
Next, consider the indirect costs of pulling these people off their ordinary jobs: For giggles, we’ll put that at another $100,000. But again, it could be much more than that.
Finally, consider the quality of the training materials those two will create. They’re not instructional designers, and the materials they’ll create are probably not going to be engaging and effective. There may be no learning objectives, the writing may be poor, the graphics may not be helpful and the assessments may not accurately evaluate workers’ skills and abilities. This less-effective training has its own indirect cost on employee safety, productivity and morale.
2. Cut the Cost of Training Delivery
Many companies do all their training in what they proudly refer to as the old-fashioned way: instructor-led training in a classroom environment or face-to-face OJT in the field.
Don’t get us wrong. We think there are times when instructor-led, face-to-face, person-to-person training is just the right solution. But there are other times when different training approaches are the better choice.
In some cases, that’s because the training is more effective when delivered in a different format. In others, it’s because it’s less expensive to deliver training in a different format. And sometimes, both reasons apply.
3. Reduce the Cost of Training Records & Reporting
Another expense that adds up quickly with training is the expense of creating, storing, retrieving and reporting on training records.
Stop and think of all the work you do when creating records of EHS training: passing out paper-based sign-in sheets and gathering signatures; creating Excel spreadsheets and Access databases; entering data into those spreadsheets; storing paper-based records in manila envelopes in metal file cabinets; later rifling through those file cabinets or scanning those spreadsheets trying to see who’s done and who’s not done with training, etc.
You get the idea. If you’re still using a paper-based record system, or if you’re still using a largely manual process of creating training records in spreadsheets, you’re spending way too much time on training records and you’re getting very few of the benefits an online system can give you, such as easier reporting, dashboard views and automated notifications.
Here are some ways you can spend dramatically less time and money on EHS recordkeeping and reporting — all while getting better, more complete and more accurate training records.
- Instead of handing out paper-based sign-in sheets during classes, use a mobile device to grant attendance credit, collect electronic signatures and automatically sync the data with your LMS
- Instead of creating custom Excel spreadsheets and Access databases, use a pre-configured system that automatically captures all relevant training record data
- Instead of manually creating training records, when possible, use e-learning courses and other activities that automatically pass completion data and test scores to your LMS
- Instead of checking multiple locations (spreadsheet, filing cabinet, database, and storage closet) to find stored training records, use an LMS that stores them all in one central location
- Instead of searching the training records of multiple workers, or over various years, or both, looking for anomalies, patterns, trends, and/or inconsistencies, run a pre-configured report in an LMS and have the data you want in seconds
How much time do you spend on recordkeeping? What’s the cost of all that time? Why not save time and money by automating this and putting it online?
4. Cut the Costs of Injuries & Illnesses
There are MANY reasons to make sure people get their proper EHS training. The first and most important is that nobody wants to see anyone get hurt. No job is worth getting hurt or killed for — it’s something you hear all the time, but it’s more than just lip service. It’s true.
But companies also have financial motives to provide EHS training. When a worker gets hurt, sick or even killed on the job, it’s expensive. You’ve got to take time out to ensure the welfare of that worker; you may have to train a replacement; you may have to reassign the sick or injured worker to a new, less-critical position; etc.
5. Avoid Compliance Penalties
You should provide EHS training to your workers for the right reasons: to protect the safety and health of workers and to preserve the environment. And if that’s not enough, of course it’s also the law, and we all want to follow the law.
But along with those carrots, there’s a stick: penalties and fines for non-compliance.
And those penalties and fines can be costly. Using prepared training materials can help you comply with the regulations you face. And a learning management system can not only help you deliver that necessary compliance training, but can also keep records and let you run reports to prove that you did it.
6. Compress the Time Needed to Train a Worker
It takes a long time for a newly hired worker to get through all of the mandatory EHS training to work at a site.
Then there’s the EHS training the worker has to complete at each new position in his or her career line of progression.
And then there’s the refresher training delivered every year (or at two- or three-year intervals, in some cases).
Conducting all or most of this training using written materials, face-to-face training and instructor-led classroom training can chew up a lot of the worker’s time.
But by using online learning in addition to these other types of training, you can (a) reduce the total amount of time an average employee needs to complete EHS training and (b) compress the window of time needed to move the worker through the EHS training cycle from start to finish.
Although person-to-person and/or instructor-led training have some real strengths, they often come with a measure of inefficiency as well. Employees end up spending a good deal of time waiting for this kind of training — waiting for the instructor to be available, waiting while the instructor is called away momentarily, etc.
e-Learning courses can be used alongside these more traditional training methods to use the employee’s time more productively and efficiently. For example, a new hire can begin the first day on the job by watching some e-Learning courses on basic EHS topics. Then, when the EHS manager is free, he or she can follow-up with a shorter, instructor-led session that addresses more complicated issues and provides an opportunity for Q&A or hands-on demonstrations.
The same point applies when a worker is promoted to a new position and is faced with new job hazards, or when the worker needs to complete refresher training after one, two or three years.
7. Decrease Costs of Machine Downtime & Damage
A modern, industrial facility can produce at nearly miraculous rates. When everything’s working, that is. Downtime is the enemy of efficient production. Downtime is expensive — very expensive.
But workers who have received proper job skill and EHS training can help you decrease that downtime dramatically and keep your machines operating 24/7 all year round.
When a new job process, new workflow, or new machine is introduced at a work site, it takes a lot of time to provide workers with the proper safety training. And in some cases, because the EHS manager is overworked, the training is never created, updated, or delivered.
It’s easier to keep up with these changes, and to deliver timely EHS training, with an LMS. The LMS creates an organized, structured method for evaluating your current training, noting gaps, updating existing materials, creating new materials and delivering those materials to appropriate workers.
And those workers who have received complete, up-to-date, accurate EHS training on all job tasks, work procedures, production flows and machines are more likely to use them properly and safely. And as a result, they’re less likely to do something that causes you to interrupt operation, perhaps because a part was broken by a worker performing an unsafe act (as a result of improper training).
8. Receive Better Audit Scores From Downstream Customers
Many companies have to demonstrate to their own, downstream customers that they have a robust EHS training program. Those downstream customers want to know the kind of company they’re doing business with, and they often want to know if the company is providing appropriate EHS training.
Having an LMS can help you provide better training and create better training records, and it also makes it easier to document your training efforts by running reports. This can help you better demonstrate the quality of your EHS training, which in turn can earn you a better audit score from your customer. And that will make the customer more likely to continue their business relationship with your company. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of effective EHS management providing a positive ROI.
9. Give Workers a Sense of Ownership of Safety
Using an LMS to deliver your EHS training shows workers that you care enough to make an investment in their safety and health.
This, in turn, causes the employees to make their own investment in safety and health at your workplace, which makes for a safer, healthier workplace that’s more productive and efficient and less costly.
10. Capture & Distribute “Tribal Knowledge”
At many workplaces, important work processes and procedures are known by only a small number of workers, or maybe just one. This is sometimes known as “tribal knowledge.”
If that worker is out for the day, that information isn’t available. And if that worker retires, that information is lost forever. And with an aging American workforce that’s already suffering from a skill gap, this problem will get worse unless your company addresses it now.
An LMS can help to capture that knowledge, store it and distribute it to all workers who need it, letting you turn tribal knowledge to global knowledge. And a lot of that information will have a relation to safety.
Ready to see what online trainings are available for your EHS staff? Check out our online EHS PIG Training Courses.
This post was developed by Convergence Training and originally featured on the Convergence Training Blog. It has been reposted with permission.