By Bruce, Ron
Occupational Hazards , Vol. 70, No. 6
In the fall of 2004, Bruce Keyston was assigned to a hazardous waste cleanup project that carried a HAZWOPER training requirement for site work. To maintain compliance for this work assignment, he was due for an annual 8-hour refresher training update. But because his remote job assignment placed him in Kazakhstan, he could not find a refresher class within hundreds of miles of his location.
Fortunately, Keyston's company MACTEC, an Atlanta-based consulting firm providing engineering, environmental and construction services to public and private clients worldwide, maintained an online training account. An online program therefore allowed Keyston to complete his refresher training over a 2-week period.
The day Keyston finished the course--12 time zones away--Basil Falcone, a company manager in San Francisco, was able to access the online database to verify that Keyston had completed his training and was in compliance with both company and client requirements.
At the same time, Falcone could check on his other 131 employees in the account, noting who was in compliance and who was trailing behind on assignments. In fact, Basil's company has nine separate accounts around the country representing major operation facilities with 306 total users enrolled in the system.
This is just one example of how technology developments in the past decade radically and positively have changed workplace training and record-keeping. Now, workers can complete their training from almost anywhere--Keyston, for example, also took online training courses while he was in Russia, Iraq and Thailand.
Keyston's case is one of many examples of how companies today use online training to solve problems and streamline their business operations. The process offers more advantages than location-based perks, however. Let's take a look at all that online training can offer. (Keep in mind that other online learning variations, such as webcasts and hybrids, may offer other features not discussed here.)
Not everyone has the same background, knowledge, education or learning ability. As a consequence, people learn at different rates. A classroom environment forces everyone to move at the same pace - too slow for some, too fast for others. Online training provides students the opportunity to move through material at a comfortable pace in accordance with their abilities. The training curricula easily can be designed to suit various employees or classes of workers simply by selecting and assigning different courses for the corresponding students.
In addition, students enrolled in online programs may access courseware anytime. New employees can catch up on training previously delivered without the need for a special class. Students also typically have the opportunity to review their coursework as long as they maintain an account with the provider. This can come in handy when the initial training event precedes operations involving the subject matter by several months. A student may review a course as a refresher just prior to any upcoming exposure.
Convenience and Cost
In the MACTEC example, Keyston's logistics problem effectively was solved with an online learning solution. Pulling employees out of the field into central training locations at scheduled times can be difficult and costly, especially considering travel and administrative costs, time burdens and scheduling difficulties. What happens when several employees don't show up for scheduled training? What is the cost to circle back and pick up those employees who missed the session? What if they never get trained?
Online training is available 24/7 whenever the student has access to a computer and the Internet. For example, popular online training providers have many students active in their systems at any hour of the day, every day, from all over the globe. …