A Key Piece of the Puzzle

Leading solutions can be used to schedule and manage the completion of most any type of training.

HERE'S the situation:
Business is tough in today's global marketplace. Everyone is being asked to do more with less. Not just a trend, this seems to be the way of the future.

Safety and risk management professionals have not been insulated from the need to become more efficient. If you are in the safety and risk management field, surely you must agree this is the case.

Here's the problem:
As a system approaches maximum efficiency, it becomes increasingly difficult or even impossible to "do more with less." Sure, you can twist a knob here, push a lever there, and output might increase, but this additional output will come at a cost (to quality, to machine reliability, etc.).

What does this mean to the safety and risk management professional? When the safety system is functioning as intended, risk is being recognized proactively, appropriate actions are being identified and taken, and, ultimately, incidents are being avoided.

Safety systems are similar to mechanical systems previously discussed. Pushed past the point of maximum efficiency, output quality suffers. To the safety and risk management professional, this means risk may go unrecognized, actions may go untaken, and incidents may occur unchecked. We know this is not acceptable.

What to do now? Brace yourself. This may seem strange, given the previous point about quality. The next time you are asked to "do more with less," you need to agree.
Here's why. All things equal, it's true that past a certain point, it becomes difficult or impossible to do more with less. But all things do not need to be equal. Every mechanic knows minor adjustments improve automotive performance. These same mechanics will tell you that at some point, higher-performance parts are needed.

Technology: A Choice among High-Performance Parts
Today's safety and risk management professionals have applied Internet and computer-based technology to a number of safety functions with amazing results. Safety functions benefiting from technology include safety training, incident investigation and reporting, worker's compensation and medical case management, procedure authoring and updates, chemical information management, risk assessment, and equipment/facilities inspection.

Let's dig a little deeper to see how technology solutions can benefit the safety and risk management professional.

Online Training (e-Learning)
Customizable course content:
Leading online content is instructionally designed to suit virtually all adult learning styles and comprehension levels. It is interactive and presented in an engaging multimedia format.
Content from leading providers may be available in a variety of languages and can be further customized to meet industry- and company-specific needs. Leading providers will have experienced safety and risk management professionals on staff to ensure course offerings remain up to date with new and updated regulatory requirements. As changes occur, courseware updates are made from behind the scenes, with no interruption to the organization or training program.

Reduced training time:
Elimination of administrative duties (such as roster sign-in) combined with efficient content packaging can reduce training time by half from comparable instructor-led courses.

Flexible scheduling and course delivery:
Courses are available globally, 24/7, from any Internet-connected computer and can be taken at times and locations most convenient to the learner and the organization (e.g., from home, during downtime, or just prior to infrequently performed or critical tasks). Courses from leading providers are self-paced and feature "bookmarking" functions that allow those taking a course to do so in multiple sittings without losing ground.

Real-time tracking and reporting:
Every aspect of the online training experience is captured in the Learning Management System (LMS), allowing training administrators to track lapsed time, completion status, test scores, and much more. Course reminders and customizable completion reports can be automated for trouble-free electronic mailing. Using an instant messaging feature, question-and-answer dialogue with knowledgeable persons is possible before, during, and after course participation.

While an LMS can be used with online courses, leading solutions also can be used to schedule and manage completion of most any type of training. Training requirements can be established for defined groups of employees so that someone joining the maintenance group will receive assignments automatically for required training and retraining at necessary intervals, simply by virtue of membership in the group.

Fully hosted and supported solution:
Easy, fast implementation, with no need for additional hardware, software, or technical resources. Leading providers offer dedicated technical and product support with availability 24/7, guaranteed uptime, and secure, stable network infrastructure.

Incident Investigation, Reporting, and Case Management
Data collection and sharing:
Leading providers integrate a variety of post-incident management functions into a single, convenient interface. This interface may include incident reporting, the worker's compensation first report of injury, incident investigation, OSHA recordkeeping, transitional work tracking, and claim and medical case management.

This level of integration allows information captured about an incident to be shared and cooperatively built upon by various concerned parties. These parties may include supervisors, safety and risk management professionals, doctors, worker's comp administrators, and medical case managers. Data sharing eliminates the need for inefficient, redundant, and potentially inconsistent data entry by each party. Multi-disciplinary groups sharing data electronically are able to work together in a way that allows for agile, well-reasoned decisions to be made.

Data reporting and measurement:
Collection and sharing of data through a single interface naturally results in better data availability. Better data availability naturally results in quicker, easier, more powerful, multi-faceted reports.

Leading providers are adding more and more capability to benchmark with industry norms. Comparing against these types of benchmarks allows for a better understanding of opportunities, and this allows for better case management.

Chances are, you've already been asked to "do more with less." And chances are that the people asking will not stop asking. It's time to start thinking about the high-performance part you are going to choose, because sacrifices in the quality of your safety efforts are not sacrifices that should be made.

This article originally appeared in the June 2007 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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