EH&S Insider Blog

E-Learning 101 for Safety Professionals


E-Learning programs have experienced a significant rise in popularity in recent years as people from all over the world and from all walks of life begin to appreciate the advantages offered by learning online. Although the approach has become extremely popular among students of all types due to its convenience, E-Learning is also very effective.

A meta-analysis conducted by the U.S. Department of Education found that students in online conditions performed better than students who learned the identical material through traditional classroom instruction.


While initially, E-Learning was restricted primarily to educational institutions, today E-Learning has grown to become one of the key components in business and corporate related education programs, providing employees with the information they need to become more proficient in their roles and more indispensable to their employers.

From the employers’ perspective, E-Learning is becoming recognized as a cost-effective approach to training that can result in more productive, more knowledgeable employees, and which can be conducted without interrupting the normal work routine.

What is E-Learning?

In its most basic form, E-Learning (electronic learning) is the presentation of educational materials in an online space that can be accessed by individuals to develop a new knowledge base or expand an existing level of understanding in a specific area.

In addition to written lesson materials, many programs also include audio or visual components to facilitate learning. Some learning environments provide curriculum management and online testing components.

Learning Online

One of the advantages of learning online is that in most cases, an online format appeals to a wide range of learning styles. Researchers agree that individuals learn differently, and being able to “tap into” the style that is most engaging for a given individual ensures a much higher level of success.

Online learning may be done individually and independently, or it may be conducted in a more collaborative environment where sharing and peer learning plays a role. 

Direct Benefits of E-Learning

E-Learning allows the student to:

  • Learn at his or her own pace
  • Develop competency for all learning objectives
  • Learn when convenient - learning modules and activities can be accessed 24/7
  • Eliminate the intimidation that can come with a group environment or classroom

E-Learning helps the employer:

  • Expand the learning audience by making it convenient to attend
  • Standardize training to deliver a consistent learning experience based on uniform content
  • Deliver training to multiple locations at the same time
  • Eliminate travel costs including travel-related loss of productivity
  • Respond to changes in your industry by adapting materials quickly and in real time – especially critical when teaching topics, such as safety and compliance, where regulations are constantly evolving
  • Achieve faster competency among learners
  • Achieve 100% plan compliance
  • Reduce workers’ compensation claims by ensuring all employees are properly trained in safety procedures

When considering E-Learning, most employers have two overarching concerns: How successful is E-Learning in helping employees learn and how cost-effective is it? Though the field of E-Learning is relatively young, there are several studies that clearly demonstrate the advantages of E-Learning in both of these key areas:

Effective Learning

In a meta-analysis that examined the learning outcomes of 15 studies, Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN) reported that two-thirds of these studies indicated that E-Learning was clearly more effective in achieving educational goals and objectives compared to classroom-based training programs. Of the remaining third, E-Learning and classroom-based programs were found to be equivalent.

Can E-Learning provide skills and change behavior? Multinational consumer goods conglomerate Unliver relies heavily on E-Learning and conducted its own evaluation of the effectiveness of its training programs. It found that by using E-Learning, the company’s sales staff learned new skills that enabled them to increase company sales by more than $20 million.

What makes E-Learning so effective? There are many reasons, but two appear to be most common: Independent study, which allows employees to master material at their own pace; and – perhaps surprisingly – increased confidence, due to the more relaxed and personalized learning experience. The latter aspect is especially important among adult learners who may feel intimidated by the subject matter and classroom environment. 

Cost Savings

In his book, E-Learning: Strategies for Delivering Knowledge in the Digital Age, author Marc Rosenberg found that E-Learning requires 25% to 60% less time than classroom education to learn the same amount of material. That advantage has translated into significant savings for businesses:

  • Professional services firm Ernst and Young were able to slash training costs by more than a third while improving consistency, condensing nearly 3,000 hours of classroom training into 700 hours of web-based learning.
  • Dow Chemical reduced its training costs from $95 per learner for classroom education to $11 per learner using e learning – a savings of $34 million per year.

Why E-Learning Lends itself well to Compliance Training?

In addition to the advantages listed above, Wise Businessware's E-Learning Compliance Program Manager works well for New Employee Orientation programs, Ongoing Refresher Training, one time near miss training and procedure / policy training. Most training curriculum management may be automated to save administrative time and prevent human error.

Empower Management and Learners - The My Team feature drives compliance by empowering each Vice President, Director, Manager and Supervisor with a clear view of his or her team's compliance and performance. Team based reporting and automated notifications drive plan compliance.

Prevent Non-Compliance - In addition to Team Based Reporting, administrators can measure up to the minute compliance performance by person(s), curriculum or location(s) e.g. training item, group of training items, an individual, group, job, department, location, region, company etc. from one simple reporting hub. 

Avoid Apathy - With a Personalized Learning Path there’s no risk of boring advanced-level employees by “dummying down” materials or conducting training at a snail’s pace to accommodate employees who are less experienced or skilled; likewise, employees with less experience needn’t feel embarrassed by the need to review frequently or progress more slowly through material.

 Achieve Compliance Faster and Easier Than Ever Before ***** See How *****

Growth Trends of E-Learning 

Consulting and advisory firm Deloitte reported that training via E-Learning grows on average by more than 12% per year, and that more than half of all training dollars are spent on E-Learning and other non-traditional approaches. Deloitte also estimates the amount of money spent by corporations on non-traditional education like E-Learning will continue to grow.



Topics: E-Learning Safety Resources