Teaching an Old Company New Training Tricks

For a company with hundreds of employees and an extensive safety training program, embracing online technology was a smart move. Kroeschell, a Chicago-based leader in mechanical and electrical engineering for more than a century, recently enhanced its employee safety training by launching a new e-learning program. Online training allows employees to obtain the safety instruction they need without interfering with important work projects.

Kroeschell installs, constructs and services industrial heating and air conditioning systems for customers including Caterpillar, the Archdiocese of Chicago, Abbott Labs and the U.S. Air Force. The work requires Kroeschell to maintain a comprehensive safety training program to manage risk to employees. To do this, the company relied on logistics-heavy, classroom-style programs that pulled employees away from projects.

Kroeschell's solution to this time-consuming process was to turn to online instruction. Now, company employees can complete many safety-training programs between projects, when they have the time. The new e-learning program also saves the company time by eliminating the manual process of managing the program with spreadsheets.

Priorities

Adding an online training program is just another step in Kroeschell's commitment to safety. Meeting the safety requirements of customers and regulatory agencies always has been a top priority at Kroeschell. “We're determined to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our employees,” says David Stavropoulos, corporate risk manager.

As part of its safety program, Kroeschell conducted extensive classroom training six times a year, in addition to weekly safety updates. While the program was successful, scheduling training sessions often was a difficult endeavor.

“On any given day, we could have over 100 different jobs underway involving hundreds of personnel,” explains Stavropoulos. “So trying to find times for employees to participate was problematic.”

To keep on top of training requirements, Kroeschell had to schedule sessions all year, even during peak work periods. While some training was carried out during normal working hours, longer courses, such as OSHA 10-hour and OSHA 30-hour classes, were conducted over weekends.

“Not many of our employees were happy about that,” notes Stavropoulos.

Requirements for Training

Kroeschell recognized the opportunity to improve the training process and enhance the already rigorous curriculum. In considering alternative approaches, Stavropoulos says Kroeschell identified five requirements:

  • Train employees at slow times of the year.

  • Respond quickly to customer demands for OSHA 10-hour trained workers.

  • Extend OSHA 10-hour training to all core employees.

  • Spend less time managing the safety program.

  • Demonstrate Kroeschell's commitment to safety to customers, partners and employees.

To help implement its vision, Kroeschell selected ClickSafety, an online safety training company that offers more than 200 online courses.

Stavropoulos says that with e-training, it is easier to coordinate the training schedules for Kroeschell's 500 employees. He simply assigns courses that employees can complete over time and at their convenience, within a time frame determined by the company.

“Instead of tying workers up during productive times of the year, we can do a lot of safety training during the slower winter months. We're much more efficient now,” Stavropoulos explains.

While the company still does some classroom-style training, Kroeschell has come to depend on the wide variety of ClickSafety e-training offerings to conduct much of its safety instruction. Whereas once the company only gave OSHA 10-hour training to supervisors, Kroeschell now is intent on providing the course to all core employees.

“Customers like OSHA 10-hour training because it assures them that the employee has a certain level of competency when it comes to safety,” Stavropoulos says.

Furthermore, if a customer requests that all workers on a job have OSHA 10-hour training, Kroeschell can respond quickly. “We can assign training to the appropriate workers and they can get it done quickly. I do not have to hire a vendor or drop everything to conduct the training,” says Stavropoulos.

Not only are customers pleased that Kroeschell can respond quickly to demands for trained workers, they are also impressed with the company's online university. “It gives our training program a higher level of sophistication,” Stavropoulos says.

Online instruction also has allowed the company to streamline the management of its safety programming by providing easily accessible reporting. According to Stavropoulos, managing the logistics of the program no longer is as time consuming as it once was.

“The logistics of trying to track training for hundreds of employees was time consuming and labor intensive. Now I can manage the program easily by tracking and assigning training online,” Stavropoulos explains.

In addition, Kroeschell implemented a new orientation program for seasonal workers. Upon arrival to the job, workers now take an orientation course online, allowing Kroeschell to document their safety instruction automatically.

“Managing our risk requires that we train our employees and comply with industry regulations so we can reduce our overall incidents. Online instruction has had a tremendous positive impact on our overall risk management program,” Stavropoulos says.


Ron Bruce has 35 years of experience in construction management, safety and health program development and management. He is a former risk manager, vice president and acting president of a major West Coast heavy construction firm and held various positions with the world's largest multi-line insurer. He is a certified safety professional and has an M.S. in Safety from the University of Southern California. As vice president of content operations at ClickSafety, he has managed and overseen the development of hundreds of web-based safety and health programs.

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