Online training, including online safety training, has becoming increasingly common in recent years and even recent decades. And the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it difficult and/or dangerous to conduct in-person training, be it classroom-style, OJT, quick on-the-site toolbox/tailgate talks or whatever, accelerated the move to adopt online training at workplaces across the world (check out our webinar Beginner's Guide to Online Training for the COVID Era for more on this).
In this article, we'll give you a little introduction to some of the tools you'll need if you want to implement online safety training at your construction organization.
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At its root, construction safety training that's effective makes use of the same evidence-based training practices and avoids all the same learning myths that makes all safety training, and all safety training, effective. So we invite you to click those links you just passed up and read up on some of the basics of instructional design before you continue. Take your time, we're not in a hurry at this end. 🙂
Additionally, and like all good safety training, construction safety training starts with an understanding of the hazards present at a workplace (our Construction Safety Training Guide includes some helpful tips for identifying hazards at a construction safety site before you dive into safety training design and delivery). Then it considers risk management considerations and uses the hierarchy of controls to identify the proper controls for a hazard--which MAY or MAY NOT include safety training.
(Note: keep in mind that while we know compliance is necessary and important, that's not the primary emphasis of this article).
And then, of course, once you know training is the right solution--or part of the right solution--for the safety hazard issue at your construction worksite, you've got to design, develop, and deliver that training correctly so it's not just an expensive waste of time or a check-the-box exercise but actually helps to deliver the safety outcomes you're you're hoping for. We've already given you links to a bunch of resources to help you with that, but you might also want to check out our Effective Safety Training recorded webinar, or our webinar on the ANSI/ASSP Z490 EHS Training standards (which the author of this article helped to create), or of course the Z490 EHS Training standards themselves. e
But with that lengthy intro done (I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as "the Herman Melville of safety bloggers," but of course I'm not really joking), let's dive into what we came here to talk about today: some basic tools you can use if you want to begin using online safety training at construction organization. Shall we?
A learning management system, often known as an LMS, is a software application you can use to manage and administer all of the training an organization conducts. This includes training that occurs online but also training that occurs "offline," meaning face-to-face training or other training that's not conducted on the world-wide-web.
But what does it mean to "manage and administer" the safety training for your construction organization? Well, no LMS is the same, but here are the kinds of things you can do:
If you'd like to learn more, check out our Vector LMS for the AEC industry webpage.
If the LMS does the management and administration of your safety training, you still need training activities--that occur in the "real world" as well as online. So in this section, we'll tell you a little more about those online training activities.
The foundational online learning activity is known as the elearning course. These are training activities that deliver the training content and typically include practice exercises as well as a pass/fail completion test. You can get elearning courses for your construction safety training in a variety of ways. The first, as mentioned above, is license them from the safety training provider you're licensing the LMS from. The elearning courses will come "built in" that way, and it will be super-easy to get periodic updates when regulations change. But you can also get elearning courses made by a company other than the company that licenses the LMS. And finally, you can buy an inexpensive software application called an elearning authoring tool, start with your own existing PPT, add some practice exercises, interactivity, and a test, and you've got your own elearning course on a construction safety topic you can import into the LMS.
Check out the online health and safety training courses Vector Solutions offers that you can make part of your own safety training program.
Additionally, there are a host of other online training activities you can create with or import into an LMS. These include:
Virtual instructor-led training, or VILT, is instructor-led training that occurs through a webinar-like tool such as Zoom, GoTo, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, or similar tools.
Virtual instructor-led training has played an important part in job training for a long time. And with the increasing usage of online training in the last decade or so, VILT increased as well. But when the COVID pandemic hit, use of VILT really jumped.
For the purposes of this article, know that you can schedule VILT inside Zoom or a similar tool, then copy the link from Zoom, put it into your LMS, and then do all the stuff you want to do with your safety training: assign it to workers, notify them of the assignment, give completion records, store those completion records, and run reports.
Of course, just because Zoom and other similar tools and learning management systems make it easy to deliver virtual instructor-led training doesn't mean it's easy to design an deliver VILT well. There's an art to it--read this article to learn more about effective virtual instructor-led training.
Mobile learning, and the mobile learning apps that make mobile learning even easier and more convenient, are becoming increasingly common in job training. And their use is even more important in fields with remote, widely dispersed workers with no office desk to sit and take training at--like construction.
Mobile learning allows workers to take training when and where they want to. This added element of choice and control makes workers more likely to "buy into" and engage with safety training (read here to see how this supports adult learning principles).
Mobile learning also makes things easier for the employer/training manager. You can deliver safety training to your workers' phones or tablets instead of renting a facility, worrying about paying workers for time off and travel, and similar training-related headaches.
Another HUGE value of using mobile learning apps as part of your safety training solution is this allows your workers to access training and mother materials as a form of performance support, giving them access to necessary information at the time and moment of need on the job, when they need to apply it.
If you're not familiar with the phrase "performance support," you may know it by the terms job aid or checklist. These days you can also include a PDF version of a manual or an instructional video. The important thing is that performance support gets information to workers where and when they need it.
We won't spend a lot of time talking on this in this article, but you know that technology is changing very quickly these days, and that is impacting your online or digital training options as well. Here are just a few of the technologies that are already affecting training and safety training and that will do so more and more in the future:
If you begin adopting online safety training now, you can take advantage of the tried-and-tested tools such as video, elearning courses, and LMS as well as these new and emerging technologies.
For more information, check out:
In the construction industry, multi-employer worksites and contractors are common-place.
An employer isn't responsible for the safety training requirements of contractors, but they will want to provide site- and job-specific safety orientations to contractors. The basic technology involved in this is the same as what we described above, but often it's helpful to use something like the Vector Solutions Contractor LMS for this. Contact us for more details.
We hope you found this introduction to online tools for construction safety training helpful. Please do let us know if you have more questions you'd like answered.
For additional research, OSHA has some great information on construction hazards and safety; we recommend you check out the ASSP's Z490 standards for EHS training; and the CPWR/Center for Construction Research and Training is also a great resource.