One-Stop Shopping

Comprehensive resources make a good tool for OSH professionals.

IT'S a supercenter world. Stores that sell fishing tackle, car tires, lamps, and apples only aisles apart are thriving. These retailers may tout lower prices and friendly service, but if you ask customers why they shop at these locations, you'll hear one answer again and again--convenience. "If we didn't come here, we'd have to go to at least three separate stores for the things on our list," explained the couple ahead of me recently in a supercenter's checkout line. "With work, the kids, and everything else, we just don't have time for that."

The time crunch isn't confined to just our personal lives, either. At work, like so many other employees, safety professionals can have more responsibilities, decreased budgets, smaller staffs, and, of course, less time. Non-safety professionals, such as human resources experts, may find themselves charged with safety training and compliance in addition to their normal duties. With to-do lists consisting of training, checklists, safety meetings, tailgate talks, regulations, regulatory interpretations, and more, these individuals could use a little "supercenter" convenience at work.

With that need in mind, Business and Legal Reports (BLR) launched, the Wal-Mart of online safety resources. "The site has been designed to help safety professionals easily locate and download customizable training aids for just about every safety topic, quickly find answers to their compliance questions, keep up with regulatory changes, and research best practices guidance--all in one place," said Kim Ryan, senior project manager of new product development.

Training on Aisles 1-10
The site features hundreds of customizable safety training resources written by BLR subject matter experts, consultants, attorneys, and editors. You can download PowerPoint presentations, toolbox talks, handouts, and activities to train employees on topics ranging from accident prevention and asbestos to trenching and workplace violence. The site helps to test and reinforce training by providing topic-specific quizzes and employee certificates. Those new to, or unfamiliar with, safety management also can download training checklists, instructions on holding safety meetings, and trainers' outlines. "[The site] represents a comprehensive collection of our large body of health and safety content," said Steve Quilliam, managing editor.

Because training materials are based on federal and state OSH regulations and directives and industry best practices, they can be sorted to meet the federal rules or, if available, a specific state's jurisdiction. The site currently offers 42 training handouts in Spanish, and BLR is looking into translating more of its content into Spanish. Clip Art and other graphics related to the training topics are available for download.

The Blue Light Special: Compliance
In addition to training materials, features compliance resources, including regulations, regulatory analysis, interpretations, directives, and updates on regulatory activity. As with the training resources, you can search compliance materials at either the state or federal level.

"Early in the development process, we identified plain-English regulatory interpretation focused on federal-state differences as one of the critical tools for the health and safety professional that we needed to include on the site," Quilliam said. Using a model that had been successful for it in other markets, the company developed federal analysis on key topics, complemented by documents on how requirements differ from state to state, Quilliam said.

Updated daily, the site's regulatory activity is culled from state and federal registers and includes final regulations, proposed regulations, and other notices that pertain to the health and safety field.

Other Featured Items
Illustrating real-world examples of both training and compliance, includes links to case studies on nearly every topic the site covers. You also can download how-to guides on topics such as audits, general safety, inspections, and dealing with workplace violence. Numerous white papers are available.

If you can't find the information you're looking for, the site's "Ask the Experts" button allows you to submit a question to BLR via an electronic form. BLR directs the question to the appropriate staff member and usually responds within one business day.

Additional buttons on the site allow you to read updated safety news, subscribe to a weekly safety e-magazine, and keep abreast of upcoming safety events. A "Personalize the Site" button is included, but this feature currently allows you only to place the states of particular interest to you at the top of the list of states when sorting by jurisdiction.

If you have a competitive nature, can test your safety knowledge with the weekly OSHA challenge featuring a multiple-choice question regarding OSHA regulations and their interpretations. You can register to keep track of your colleagues' and other safety professionals' score via BLR's OSHA Challenger.

Free Trial & Annual Fees
While offers a supercenter solution, it doesn't necessarily come at a supercenter price. BLR currently offers a 30-day free trial, but an annual subscription to the site starts at $495, with multi-user discounts and site license opportunities also available. In today's business world, time may be expensive, but convenience won't necessarily be on sale.

This article originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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