What Does OSHA Say About Online Safety Training? - Part 3
Before deciding to invest in online safety training, management types often ask a similar question…
“Is this stuff OSHA certified?”
They’re wondering if online training is a legitimate, recognized method for training delivery, and asking if what they’re about to purchase will satisfy regulatory requirements.
So let’s unpack this common concern for many employers, shall we?
Confused? We get it. Over the years, OSHA has repeatedly clarified its position on online training through a series of “letters of interpretation”, which are official responses to formal questions from employers. However, most of those letters are old and out of date, failing to keep pace with technology that has significantly improved in many cases.
OSHA’s Characteristics of Sound Training Programs
- Training and content is technically sound.
- Training is developed by a knowledgeable, experienced safety professional.
- Training programs must be understandable—for every level of education.
- Training materials should be written in plain speak.
- Training readability and language matches the audience.
- Training is provided in the ‘native tongue’ when necessary.
- Training must account for low literacy limitations.
- Training should be flexible enough to accommodate all learners.
- Training programs should present information that is relevant, applicable.
OSHA also advises that safety training programs should be designed around a needs assessment.
Take our 10-minute, no cost Training Needs Assessment to identify training topics for your workforce.
How does HSI online safety training meet OSHA 4 objectives?
- Courses are built with Subject Matter Experts from corresponding industries to ensure technical accuracy and credibility.
- Engagement is the primary goal of our training, because engagements promote learning. That’s why our experienced instructional designers integrate emerging best practices and new adult learning theory concepts. To the worker who takes the training, this means they’re not subjected to a passive experience—you can’t sit back and “watch” the training or zone out while receiving a lecture. Workers have to interact with the course throughout by reading, watching, listening, completing interactivities and demonstrating comprehension through knowledge checks along the way. Additionally, each course uses storytelling to build relevancy up front and connect with the learner.
- Goals and learning objectives are accessible and at the forefront of each course.
For example, objectives for Confined Space Entry-Permit Required course are stated this way on our website:
- Identify characteristics and examples of a confined space.
- Identify hazards of confined spaces.
- Identify the differences between permit-required and non-permit-required confined spaces.
- Identify specific requirements of a Permit-Required Confined Space Entry Program.
- Identify the requirements of the permit system and the information a permit includes.
- Recognize the responsibilities of personnel who work in or attend permit spaces.
The outline for each course is also available. Here is the outline for Confined Space Entry-Permit Required:
- Confined Space Characteristics
- Confined Space Hazards
- Confined Space Types
- Permit-Required Entry Program
- Permit Space Responsibilities
The benefit to the learner is conveyed through each course description and is written to the learner as the audience. Here is the benefit and connection described for Confined Space Entry-Permit Required:
Confined spaces are enclosed or partially enclosed spaces of a size such that a worker can squeeze entry for performing assigned work through a narrow opening—they’re tough to get in and out of, tight spaces. These spaces are normally only entered to perform specific tasks and then barricaded to prevent unauthorized access.
Examples include storage tanks or bins, mixing tanks, railroad tank cars, silos, vaults, and pits. Think of any large tank used for holding liquid. Sometimes, these big storage containers need to be cleaned out, so you send a worker to get inside and they’re completely surrounded by walls of the structure, with only a small entry/exit hatch for escape if things go awry. Confined spaces create the ideal conditions for the onset of claustrophobia. Confined spaces can be large or small and above or below ground.
By their very nature and configuration, many confined spaces may foster a hazardous atmosphere. These are normally poorly ventilated areas, so the release of vapors which might otherwise be released into the open air can create an oxygen-deficient,toxic, combustible, or otherwise harmful atmosphere. Confined spaces kill when several unexpected situations develop. Exposure to these atmospheres can result in immediate asphyxiation, acute or chronic poisoning, or impairment that can result in injury.
Asphyxiation is the leading cause of death in confined spaces. How does that happen? ETC…
Training needs to include practice of skills and participation in learning to increase the number and quality of opportunities for knowledge transfer—that’s actual learning. As a core value, we believe that what workers learn from our courses can save lives. To that end, our courses will prompt workers to practice what they’re learning throughout any given course, whether it’s matching the correct response to a situation or identifying hazards in a mock scenario. It’s also much easier to retake a 30-minute online course that retrain a classroom full of workers. Workers can practice online as much as they want to improve proficiency with course material and test scores.
In addition to the interactivities throughout each course, there is a test at the end which employees must pass. The assessment and associated documentation (attempts to pass, passing score, length of time spent in course and assessment) show the controlling employer and any auditor that learning has indeed occurred and what degree of proficiency is demonstrated.
Does the employer play a role in motivating employees to engage in learning? We believe it’s absolutely necessary and begins with corporate values around safety and setting expectations for training. Additionally, we believe training benefits must be affirmed through the controlling employer, who ultimately sets the tone for the value of safety in the workforce.
OSHA wants to see each employer develop a well-rounded safety training program, not a one-size-fits-all, “set it and forget it” solution. And we agree—safety is too important. Think of a safety program as a responsive, living entity. Above the baseline policies and procedures, there must be a continuous loop of input and adjust, from awareness training to hazard recognition and abatement. Participation is essential. Each work environment is unique and that’s why live instruction is critical; to capture the health and safety nuances of each workplace, a certain amount of experiential safety training is necessary.