Workforce safety training is an important part of any company's risk management strategy. But recently, the need for better, more responsive training has been underscored by a spate of news reports documenting accidents, walkouts and a rise in worker fatalities, all of which have been associated with poor worker training programs. And it's not just federal regulating agencies that are demanding changes – it's the workers themselves. Consider these recent reports:
- U.S. oil workers staged a major walkout in early February 2015, citing unsafe conditions. One of the most common causes of fatal injuries in the oil industry is lack of proper safety training, followed by failure to update and implement emerging safety standards.
- Earlier that week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported industrial accidents have spiked in recent years as a direct result of poor workplace training. In the report, an OSHA representative said there is “just too little regard being paid to instructing people on safe work practices.”
- Workers at the Tesoro oil refinery in Washington State walked out to protest what an official report characterized as “ a substandard safety culture” that wound up claiming the lives of seven workers five years earlier. Workers are demanding better safety training and practices at the facility to avoid a similar catastrophe in the future.
And there are plenty more. In fact, lack of quality safety training is one of the most common OSHA workplace violations, and one that can result in significant fines, not to mention worker injuries and fatalities.
Identifying the Challenges of Workplace Safety Training
Most worker safety training programs face three primary challenges, which remain the same across industry verticals: Consistency, keeping content up-to-date and employee compliance.
- Consistency: To be effective, safety training must be taught in the same manner and include the same types of information for each and every employee. Testing must also be consistent to ensure the material has been absorbed and that each worker understands how specific protocols are applied. Making sure training is consistent is a difficult task in every business, but when a business has multiple locations, the problem is compounded.
- Keeping Content Up-to-Date: Regulations and business demands are continually changing, which means your training programs must evolve to stay up-to-date. Delays in updates can leave gaps in training that can result in accidents and costly fines. However, keeping programs updated is no easy task.
- Employee Compliance. Making sure every worker gets the training they need when they need it can be a logistical nightmare. For many workers, the prospect of interrupting their regular work routine with worker safety training can take a toll on morale, especially since workers know they'll have to play catch-up when they return to their tasks. The result: Workers are less enthusiastic about their training, less motivated to learn, and therefore, less likely to retain information and change behavior.
Overcoming Training Challenges
The development of learning management systems (LMS) and E-Learning has revolutionized the way businesses are offering workplace safety training. Today's e-learning programs overcome the three primary challenges – and more – by providing a automated learning platform that cuts administrative costs and comprehensive content libraries that can be easily updated to reflect the most up-to-date safety information available. Plus, because it's virtual, every employee can receive the same training, no matter where he or she is located. And, because it can be offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, E-Learning increases compliance rates by enabling workers to learn whenever it's most convenient for them.
With such challenges, why do you think workplace safety training is so often overlooked or not allocated the necessary resources?