According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), there were 4,821 workers killed on the job in 2014. These fatalities range from slips and falls, to improper use of respiratory protection. My experience as a gas detection training specialist has taught me that it is important to make sure that all workers within a company are properly trained on the equipment they use. I have often seen someone power on a gas detector and then hand the equipment over to another worker without any gas detection training ahead of time. Often the worker will only be 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.
Nowadays, there is no excuse for a worker who does not receive proper training. Modern training tools and technologies are readily accessible and 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 people’s learning styles and helps with memorization of the content. Students can learn from each other through discussion or simulations in the classroom as well as from follow-up discussions with the instructor. Instructors are also in a better position to tailor the class to the students’ needs or answer questions they may have. If the instructor sees that the students do not understand a piece 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.
Face-to-face gas detection training usually consists of an instructor going to the customer’s site for an interactive training session. 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. 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 gas detection training is to sign up for a class that is being held in a nearby location. These classes typically focus on operating the instruments, and/or repairing instruments. This type of class is beneficial for people who need a refresher course or for companies looking to only train a few people at a time. Passing a brief exam and receiving a certificate are also benefits of attending a face-to-face class.
Thanks to busy schedules, limited training budgets, and better technology, a growing segment of the population is embracing online training. Online training 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 are usually 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 that an organization needs the most help with. Online training classes also provide flexible scheduling and are ideal for companies that have sites across multiple regions.
In an online gas detection course, a live instructor delivers the course material and uses a camera to show attendees what he is doing with the instruments. The camera allows the instructor to show attendees how to properly calibrate, operate, or repair an instrument in real-time. Instructors also have the opportunity to introduce software to the students and walk them through how to use it within their organizations. 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 no more than two minutes long. 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.
Computer Based Training
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. Once the CBT is purchased 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 take, 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 your 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.
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This article appeared in the February 2017 issue of EHS Today magazine.