My experience as a gas detection trainer has taught me that it is important to make sure that all workers within a company properly are trained on the equipment they use. I often have seen someone power on a gas detector and then hand the equipment over to another worker without any training in the use of the equipment.
Often the worker is told that when the gas detector goes into alarm, he should get out of the area, or if the equipment stops working, he should leave the area to grab another instrument. The worker has no idea what the alarms are telling him or what he should do once the equipment goes into alarm.
There is no excuse for a worker who does not receive proper training. Modern training tools and technologies are accessible and can accommodate most workers' schedules and learning styles more than ever before. With diverse training options available for all workers, we can continue to close the safety knowledge gap and save even more lives.
Face-to-face training delivers numerous benefits for both students and instructors. First, the interactive, hands-on nature of the class suits many learning styles and helps with content memorization. Students can learn from each other through discussion or simulations in the classroom as well as from follow-up discussions with the instructor.
Instructors also are in a better position to tailor the class to the students' needs or answer students' questions. If the instructor sees that the students do not understand the of content, he or she can take a moment to clarify, elaborate or provide a real-world example to support the information. Face-to-face classes also provide complimentary materials that can be used as a reference later on.
Many equipment manufacturers and distributors offer on-site training for the equipment they sell. If a customer would like to have an instructor come on site, the instructor will interview the customer to find out what their needs are and develop a customized curriculum. The course can be taught to workers or to other trainers who can then teach the course materials to workers later on. Custom, face-to-face training is the most cost efficient for organizations that would like to train a large group of people at one time.
Another option for face-to-face training is to sign up for a class that is being held in a nearby location, such as an OSHA training center. This type of class is beneficial for those who need a refresher course or for companies looking to only train a few people at a time. Students must pass an exam and receive a certificate indicating they attended the class and passed the exam.
Thanks to busy schedules, limited training budgets and better technology, a growing segment of the population is embracing online training. One of the main benefits of online training is that it is less of a time commitment than face-to-face training. It may only be a few hours long versus traveling for a multi-day class. The costs usually are less than live training, and in some cases, may be free of charge. Online training is a great option for those who are already familiar with the course content and just need a refresher or recertification. Some people also prefer online training because they can take the course in a quiet place without the distractions encountered in a classroom.
Like a face-to-face course, online courses can be customized to focus on the areas for which an organization needs the most help. Online trainings also have flexible scheduling and are ideal for companies that have sites across multiple regions.
In some courses, a live instructor delivers the course material and uses a camera to show attendees what he is doing with the equipment. In the type of training I do, for example, the camera allows me to show attendees how to properly calibrate, operate or repair an instrument in real-time. Although online courses are not as interactive as in person, they do offer the option to submit questions and feedback through the dialogue box. Attendees who have a computer, phone and an internet connection can participate from home or work and still receive a certificate of completion for passing the class exam.
Following the trend of self-guided learning, many companies offer free online video training. Online videos are available for viewing 24-hours a day, seven days a week and are broken up into short clips.
If a worker is trying to find a specific topic, it is easy to locate it without having to watch a long training video or participate in one- or two-day classes.
Although pre-recorded videos don't offer the same ability to interact that face-to-face or live online courses do, they give students the flexibility to watch whenever and as often as needed.
For companies that have small training budgets, taking advantage of online video training is a great way to supplement worker education.
Another form of self-guided training is called computer-based training (CBT). This type of training uses software to create an interactive video that allows attendees to learn at their own pace. Once purchased, CBT can be downloaded onto a company's internal portal for all necessary employees to access.
CBT is beneficial because it can be customized based on the training needs of the company. Any worker within the organization can take the training as many times as they want. This saves on travel costs and allows workers to learn in a way that accommodates their schedules. At the completion of the CBT, students may have the option to take the certification exam and print out the course certificate.
A growing number of training apps are making it easier for workers to learn on the go. If time, travel or budget constraints make it nearly impossible to complete a formal training session, it may be worth investigating what apps are available.
While some apps offer interactive content, some also provide reference materials that can be annotated and referenced whenever needed. As workers become increasingly mobile-savvy, training apps will become a major tool in promoting worker safety in the years to come.
As with any download from the web, it's always important to verify that training apps are associated with a trusted equipment manufacturer or other reputable source.
No matter what type of safety equipment training you utilize, staying up-to-date is critical. For this reason, most course certificates include an expiration date in an effort to encourage re-certification every few years.
As technology, tools and best practices evolve, so too does the subject matter, making it necessary to keep knowledge current. If we take advantage of emerging technologies and properly train all workers on a continuous basis, we will be one step closer to ending death on the job.
Jeremy DaValle is the training team lead at Industrial Scientific.