Monday, December 20, 2010

Training Options for Safety

Employee training is a key component of any successful safety program, and OSHA requires employers in the United States to furnish it. The question then is, what is the best way to deliver it?
The traditional classroom setting, with a live instructor, is probably the most flexible method. A knowledgeable instructor can evaluate the makeup of the class and tailor the content to the specific needs of the attendees. But, work schedules, travel arrangements, and other factors may make this type impractical.
Correspondence courses are also available, where the student receives instructional material in the mail, completes it, then mails it back to the instructor for grading. I have personally never taken a correspondence course, but I imagine that the greatest drawback would be the tendency to forget about the material until it was too late to send it in. In any case, this method would require considerable self-discipline to gain any knowledge from the material. Correspondence courses are no longer widely requested.
The most common type of distance-based training now, utilizes the computer. Many different types of training are available, even OSHA 10- and 30- Hour courses in both General Industry and Construction. The availability of internet training has never been so great, and in many instances, this type of training offers several benefits over other types of instruction.
The first one, in many minds, is cost. If a company only has a few employees that need training, internet-based training may be substantially cheaper. For the traditional classroom setting, the cost of the instructor is usually about the same whether there is one student, or twenty-five. Not only does the instructor incur costs, but if the employees have to travel to attend training, the company will incur costs as well that add on to the overall expense o the training. For online training, the fee is set, usually per person, no matter where the employees are located, for larger groups, it may be possible to negotiate a reduced rate with the online training provider.
Another benefit of internet-based training is the convenience. Often work schedules, product shipments, employee vacation days, and the like conspire to make centralized classroom training difficult to accomplish. Online training, however, allows employees to progress as they have time, making the scheduling problem almost disappear. This helps insure that deadlines are still met, that projects are completed on time, and that product gets out the door. Many courses will have a time limit, but they are usually measured in weeks or months, not hours.
Location is also sometimes a factor in training. For online training, employees only need a computer with internet access. The do not have to travel to meet at a central location. This can be a huge benefit for employers that have several offices, or employees that work at remote locations. The travel costs to get all employees at the same location can be huge. Online training eliminates that.
Employers have the duty to furnish relevant training to employees, but deciding how to accomplish it can be a challenge. Online, internet-based training adds one more solution that more and more companies choose as they weigh cost with benefit.


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