Environment, health, and safety (EHS) managers recognize how critical safety training is to EHS success — but for many, creating and maintaining a quality training program remains a top challenge. Online safety training in particular is an often misunderstood (and sometimes altogether overlooked) opportunity to boost EHS training engagement and retention.
While COVID-19 has introduced us to a new era of remote learning (also known as eLearning), some EHS professionals may be unsure as to how — or why — they should use this trend to their organization’s advantage. A few compliance limitations aside, properly implemented online safety training can have an immensely positive impact on your EHS programs, goals, and initiatives.
Before beginning to build your online safety training program, it’s important to note that regulatory agencies have made it very clear that online training is meant to supplement — not replace — hands-on training, and EHS training in particular may have certain in-person training requirements depending on the job. Beware of any system that assures complete regulatory compliance with an entirely online safety training program, and be especially wary if such claims are made by a program that is not even tailored to the specific needs of your company or industry.
This is not to say that online training should be avoided or distrusted. It merely highlights the importance of working with a trusted partner, one deeply immersed in the nuances of the EHS regulatory landscape, to develop an online safety training program that will maximize the benefits for your employees and organization.
With a quality program in place, the benefits of online safety training are numerous. Here are three specific advantages that can help you take your EHS training program in a new, modern direction.
While training is absolutely a cornerstone of your EHS culture, it is also one of many competing priorities. This is especially true in companies and industries with significant health and safety risks that require constant vigilance on the part of EHS managers. Therefore, any training tool that can save time without sacrificing quality is of great value. Online safety training can help increase productivity in the following ways:
Reduce your time spent “behind the scenes” of training. Actual delivery of safety training is only the tip of the iceberg. EHS professionals also need to create training schedules, track progress, and continually follow up to ensure new employees receive safety training during onboarding and existing employees get refresher training as required. Quality online training programs incorporate comprehensive dashboards that can put all of this data and functionality at the manager’s fingertips, offering quick visibility and easily digestible insights into the state of EHS training companywide.
Ensure consistent, quality content. Online training programs save EHS managers the time of having to develop safety training content from scratch. Plus, with a centralized learning management system (LMS), managers can rest assured that all workers are receiving uniform training across all roles as well as the proper job-specific training when necessary.
Integrate training with your EHS metrics analysis. Online systems can track employee EHS training participation—a key leading indicator that should be a part of any EHS metrics analysis. The right eLearning program can provide managers with another statistical tool that can point to successes (and potential shortcomings) within the organization’s health and safety programs.
It’s only natural that the increased productivity described above will be good for your organization’s bottom line. But there are many other ways online safety training can help reduce costs.
Provide on-demand training without the on-demand price. On-demand training can allow employees to complete requirements on their time and at their own pace. Online safety training can facilitate this convenience without the need to schedule multiple training sessions in order to reach all employees.
Better records provide better evidence of compliance, helping you avoid citations and fines. If you are unable to prove that employees have received required compliance training, it can result in steep fines if you are inspected or audited by a regulatory agency. Online programs work in conjunction with an LMS to keep detailed records, available any time you (or OSHA or the EPA) need them.
Proper training means fewer injuries, which means fewer costs. These costs extend far beyond just the financial ones such as lost time and workers’ compensation. The human toll of on-the-job injuries is very high, and EHS training is critical to mitigating these costs.
Despite its importance, training can often feel like a drag for employees—something that is often boring and disrupts the work day. Online safety training can help provide a more engaging and accessible experience for employees, which results in more active participation as well as a reduction in incidents. When creating a safety eLearning program, ensure that you consider the following to help boost morale:
Prioritize interactivity. Employees will retain more information with an interactive format rather than one that simply presents information. Include quizzes and safety observation exercises in your program.
Incorporate opportunities for employees to give feedback. Your online training program should give employees a voice, so that they can be heard and get a chance to shape and perhaps improve training programs.
Always highlight the “why” of safety training. When employees clearly understand how the training will help them do a better job as well as stay safe, they will be more invested in their own participation. Then they will bring a safety-oriented mindset with them when they return to their daily tasks and responsibilities.
EHS must adapt with the rest of its organizational counterparts to meet the demands of the 21st century— and use every available tool to do so. Safety eLearning can be a valuable tool to help you deliver engaging, effective training that will boost productivity, cost savings, and morale all while driving the higher goals of your organizational EHS program.
Interested in adding online safety training to your EHS program? Dakota Software is here to help. We offer more than 170 online safety and compliance courses in three innovative formats: Interactive, adaptive, and micro-learning. Our regulatory and industry experts make sure this content is accurate, engaging, and always up-to-date. Check out our full course library or request a quote to get started.