Every year, companies pay billions of dollars in compensation to workers who suffer injuries or illnesses at the workplace. How can firms prevent accidents at work? What does it take to ensure a safe workplace? They need to educate their people on the risks and train them on the required safety practices and procedures to mitigate risks.
Today, many companies are using the technology-enabled learning format to impart health and safety training to their staff members. The online learning medium is trainer-independent, highly flexible and cost-efficient.
Do you too intend to use e-learning to educate your staff on preventing untoward incidents at the workplace? How can you build a good online course on health and safety aspects? You need to follow a five-step process, prescribed jointly by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
- Identify the health and safety training needs of your workforce
- Set learning objectives for the e-learning course
- Design the technology-enabled learning resource
- Deliver the course
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the e-learning course
Let us now examine each step in detail.
1. Identify the health and safety training needs of your workforce
Here’re some questions you need to ask to understand the workplace safety training needs of your staff:
- Who are the target audience?
- How will the knowledge gained help create a safe working environment?
- Do the learners have any prior knowledge of the safety norms?
- What is their level of education?
- Are they white-collared employees or blue-collared personnel?
- Are there any differently-abled learners?
- What is the average age of the learners?
- Are they likely to get inspired by game-based learning or would they prefer a more formal approach?
2. Set learning objectives for the e-learning course
After identifying the safety training needs, you need to proceed to set the learning objectives of the online learning resource on health and safety. Learning objectives basically describe the learning outcomes in terms of performance on the job, as a result of training. For instance, learners must be able to:
- Use a welding arc without violating safety parameters
- Understand the dangers of using hydrogen fluoride without wearing protective gear
- Adhere to safety guidelines while handling radioactive decay
Learning objectives are very useful to finalize the content of your safety training resource and estimate the time and cost required to build the course.
3. Design the technology-enabled learning resource
The next step in the process prescribed by ASSE and ANSI is designing the e-learning course. This can be done by:
i. Gathering all required materials
It is necessary to collect all the resources needed to design the course such as brochures and pamphlets on regulations pertaining to industrial safety and guidelines, video-based clips of accidents and so on. You can also take inputs from managers and employees who can identify the need for safety training in line with their individual experiences. This is necessary as the inputs provide valuable information on the expectations of your employees.
ii. Coming up with a lesson plan for the online course
Once the task of collecting the needed materials is complete, you need to develop a lesson plan for the course. Ideally, the lesson plan must include:
- Review of information already familiar to the workforce
- Learning objectives of the online course
- Information required to meet the learning objectives
- Strategies to present the learning content
- Learner assessment methods to be employed
- Methodology to be followed to evaluate the effectiveness of the course
iii. Creating the learning content
Using the lesson plan as a basis, design the content of the e-learning course; it’s better to include the following elements in the course:
- Ice-breakers to “pull” learners into the course
- Demonstrations of safety procedures
- Hands-on exercises to help practice safety procedures
- Scenarios and case-studies to educate on the consequences of not following safety norms
- Risk maps to identify potential dangers
- A list of dos and don’ts of each activity
It is also advisable to provide a list of FAQs and make it available online in a printable format.
4. Deliver the course
It is now time to deliver the e-learning course to its target audience. To ensure effective transfer of health and safety knowledge and skills, you must focus on two key aspects.
i. Making employees aware of the need for safety training
It’s a good idea to put up posters highlighting the importance of safety training, at places frequented by employees such as lift lobbies, cafeteria, and so on. You can also circulate pamphlets and launch email campaigns containing messages from the top brass of your company, exhorting the need to take the online course on health and safety.
ii. Telling learners how they would benefit from the course
In many cases, employees feel that safety training is being conducted just to fulfill a statutory requirement. There could be a misconception about the training program as being more of an organizational requirement than an important aspect of training. To dispel this notion, you can provide specific instances of how the training would benefit the staff, at an individual level.
One of our clients in the automobile sector shares the number of accidents that were prevented as a result of its health and safety training initiatives, and this proved to be very effective in increasing the number of personnel who enrolled and completed online courses on workplace safety.
After creating awareness on safety, you need to deliver the e-learning course. It is advisable to deliver the course using a Learning Management System (LMS). Regulatory authorities require evidence that the health and safety training initiative was implemented, and an LMS can be used to issue certificates to learners who have completed the course on safety, which in turn can be submitted to regulators as proof of delivering the training.
5. Evaluate the effectiveness of the online course
The final step is assessing the efficaciousness of the online course on health and safety. The assessment needs to be carried out at three levels.
i. Reaction of learners to the safety training course
These assessments are useful to know the perceptions of learners about the online course. You can use a questionnaire containing the following to assess the learners’ reaction:
- Is the course relevant to your workplace safety needs?
- How familiar are you with the course content?
- Does the course help you work safely?
- Is the content presentation style effective?
ii. Assessment of the learning
Measure the improvement in the knowledge, skills, and attitude of learners after taking the course. You may hold a pre-test and a post-test to get a clear idea of the learning that has taken place. It is also advisable to check the retention of knowledge by conducting assessments 90 to 180 days after the completion of the course.
iii. Evaluation of the training’s impact on workplace safety
This evaluation can be done three to six months after the completion of the course. It is used to assess the participation of employees in industrial safety measures, number of complaints lodged, and the effectiveness with which health and safety knowledge was shared with other staff members who did not take e-learning course.
ASSE and ANSI advise companies to initiate steps to improve the quality of health and safety course, based on the evaluation of its effectiveness. If the evaluation of the course indicates that it is not able to produce the desired results, the needs assessment will have to be redone and the course content revised accordingly. The feedback provided by learners and their managers about the content needs to be taken into consideration while updating the course. You also need to conduct an annual review of the content to ensure it reflects the latest changes in policies and regulatory norms.
Proper training on health and safety plays a key role in avoiding accidents at the workplace. Follow the 5 step process described above to develop a good e-learning course on safety.