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The Insidious Hazards of On-Line Safety Training: Questions to Ask Before You Buy

On-line safety training is increasing in popularity for a number of good reasons including but not limited to the fact that it can:
safety training
  1. Reduce employee training time and the associated wage costs
  2. Provide flexible training time allowing employees to train when convenient and to start and stop mid training
  3. Minimize costs and maximize production time
    • Click here for an example of an employer with 50 employees who saved $22,500 in production hours, $15,093 in wage costs resulting in a net gain of $37,593 by leveraging On-Line Training vs Live In Class Training

When there is so much training to do to be in compliance with Workplace Safety and Health Requirements, on-line training has its place to deliver a portion of your employee safety training.

The Insidious Hazards

At the same time, many employers with the best of intentions are wasting time and money on on-line training thinking they’re getting a “great deal”, when they are really buying a waste of time and a due diligence nightmare. Here are some questions to ask before purchasing on-line safety training:
  1. Is the training specific to the requirements of my jurisdiction? While the intent of all workplace safety and health legislation is similar across Canada there are specific and significant differences between each province as well as federal jurisdictions. Examples include:
      The insidious hazards.
    • Requirements for Workplace Safety and Health representatives and committees varies significantly across provincial and federal jurisdictions
    • Some jurisdictions place more or less responsibilities on supervisors. Manitoba for example has a very specific definition of who a “supervisor” is and places strict duties upon them.
    • Requirements vary across jurisdictions for hazardous work such as working at heights, powered mobile equipment, energy isolation, implications for public safety etc.
  2. Has the training been developed by accredited Safety Professionals experienced in the subject matter? Unfortunately in Canada anyone can call themselves a “Safety Professional” regardless of their training or experience (or lack of it). Look for experience as well as education such as a degree, diploma and accreditations such as CRSP (Registered Canadian Safety Professional). See more about Questions to Ask before Hiring a Safety Professional here.
  3. Is the content of sufficient quality and quantity to ensure that my employees will be set up for success?Avoid the temptation to find the shortest training course; this is a BIG MISTAKE. Not only is the shortest course ultimately a waste of time, because employees will learn little and not be set up for success, you will also be treading on thin ice when it comes to due diligence (see Question #5 below). Examples of on-line training to be discerning (AKA avoid) include:
    • Powered Lift Truck – 34 minutes
    • Fall Protection – 15 minutes
    • Lockout – Tag Out – 30 minutes
  4. REMEMBER: The greater the risk, the greater the health and safety risk measures required.

  5. How are the training courses designed to ensure that actual learning occurs? Telling is not teaching, it’s about getting people to THINK. Additionally, it’s a well-known fact that retention rates from reading alone are LOW. Many on-line training formats are as follows: read slide – next - read slide – next - read slide – next - write a test. Ask to sample the training before you buy and ensure it provides an interactive learning format that is intentionally designed to facilitate LEARNING (thinking) and RETENTION.
  6. Will the training be defensible in court? To have the best chance of meeting a due diligence defence ensure that the training meets the requirements of Questions 1-4 above. Also beware that on-line training is appropriate for awareness based and refresher training only. For competency based and /or high risk jobs and tasks, workers must be trained in safe work procedures by a competent person and in a manner that ensures they can apply the training provided.

On-line safety training can be a great tool to provide awareness and refresher training. And like anything else, selecting an on-line training provider is a matter of “Buyer Beware”. Source the right on-line training provider for your specific needs so that your employees are set up for success and return home safe to their families at the end of the workday and you receive the best value for the time and money invested. For a free trial of interactive on-line safety training specific to the requirements of Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health legislation visit www.mySafetyTraining.ca

Author: Theo Heineman, CRSP, CHSC, B.Sc.Ag
President 1Life Workplace Safety and Health Ltd.