Centralize Your Training System

You can empower trainees to manage their own safety training schedules.

Allowing your employees to schedule and receive their training online, from basic to ultra-specific needs, can reduce administrative time, increase timely attendance, and allow instructors visibility into their schedules. In the safety world of “need it now and it’d better be documented,” such a system enhances your training, documentation, and employee skills progression, providing a “win/win” situation for employees who view this type of system as user friendly and reliable.

Whether booking an airline trip for our next vacation or paying bills online, we enjoy the accessibility that lets us get these things done at any time of the day.Much of the same philosophy applies to scheduling safety training programs. A trainee may need to sign up for new-hire orientation,Hazard Communication updates as chemicals in the workplace change, a CPR course, or continuing education classes in his field. Although some of these in-person courses have been replaced by computer-based training, many others still require some type of instructor and venue. Organizing the trainers, trainees, and locations in one centralized area can drastically reduce administrative churn and increase employee response. Standardizing the needs of each course also reduces the last-minute hysteria of training. (Have you ever searched for a projector screen three minutes before class is scheduled to begin?)

Some new reservation and scheduling systems now empower the employee to reserve his courses online while the back-office staff reserves the instructor, location, and other required items (projectors, tables, chairs, etc.)—all of whom are using the same system.Paper handling and filing are greatly reduced. These systems also link into computer-based training software to consolidate results, as well as allowing training videos to be streamed and monitored over the Internet.

Getting Safety Videos Online
Many companies send out safety training videos (DVDs) to trainees to view. Many of these DVDs are required training items, with credit given after they have been viewed. In many organizations, there is no structured process to ensure that the DVDs have been viewed. In addition, management of the inventory of DVDs and who has them can be a real headache. Many DVDs are lost after they have been sent out for viewing.

An alternative to physically sending out DVDs and/or managing them internally is to stream them over the Internet. The term “streaming” means the entire video does not need to be downloaded to the viewer’s computer before it is viewed. Thus, the response time from when the user clicks “View” to the moment they see the video can be measured in seconds rather than minutes.Many safety videos range between 45 and 60 minutes in length.Various companies handle the DVD conversion to a streamable file and also do the actual streaming over the Internet. Packages for both of these services are not that expensive.

Here are the steps you need to follow to get your safety videos online:

1. Choose a provider. Do a Google search on keywords such as “DVD Conversion and Streaming.” Choose a provider that offers both conversion and the subsequent streaming of your videos.Most of these companies have discounted conversion rates if you send them a batch of DVDs (more than 10, often). They also have a variety of packages for the streaming.

You should first get an idea of how many total videos will be watched per month, along with the average length of these videos. This will dictate which monthly bandwidth package you need.

2. Send in the DVDs. Once you have set up an account with your provider, you can send in your DVDs for conversion. The more you can send in at once, the lower the conversion rate per DVD will be; negotiate on this.

3. Click and view. After the DVDs are converted to a streaming format, the provider will give you a web URL for each video. Clicking on that URL will start the video player on your computer and you will be able to play, fast forward, rewind, and pause the video.

Allowing your DVDs to be streamed over the internet is a good first step, but what about ensuring the video has been viewed? There are a few ways to get this information:

1. The user/trainee tells you he has seen the video.

2.You have a way to monitor how long the video has played on the user’s computer and then assume it has been viewed.

3. The user is given a questionnaire/quiz on topics within the video to ensure he has watched the video.

Currently, many organizations rely on option 1, where they send out their videos and assumed the trainee has watched them. New software systems exist that allow you to accomplish options 2 & 3. They monitor viewing time and can be linked to questionnaires when the video completes to ensure the trainee was present while the video played. These systems may now automatically track and give credit for viewing your DVDs. This exciting new technology greatly simplifies the administration of your safety DVDs by putting the responsibility on the trainee/user.

Online Functionality by User
Before you have your system in place, it is good to make a list showing everyone who would need to access the system and why. This will help you to identify the features and functionality of your system and ensure no one is left out of the decision-making process.

Here is an example of a user list you may come up with:

Administrators
• Set up class times
• Organize trainers
• Schedule additional resources for the training class
• Define prerequisites (if any)
• Book classes for trainees over the phone
• Group classes together to form curricula
• Automatically e-mail trainees of upcoming classes
• Report on successful completion of courses

Trainers
• View their training schedules
• View class lists
• Monitor attendance via an attendance report or online check-in
• Set their availability

Trainees
• Register for courses
• Update their profile information
• Review what courses they have taken
• Receive confirmation e-mails on class registrations, including what to bring and directions
• Receive information on required and optional courses
• View training DVDs online and get credit for viewing them
• Send feedback on courses

Auditors and Human Resources
• On hand, completely up-to-date training documentation
• Instantly available employee records for specific training for auditors
• Documentation for non-compliance available to HR or supervisors

By publishing all of this information online, you have now closed the loop of communication between the three major parties involved. Moving from Outlook Calendars, Excel spreadsheets, and/or paper to a full online scheduling system can be a drastic time saver for all groups involved and can reduce miscommunication. Problems with scheduling are often resolved quickly because of the visibility for all users.

Implementing Your New Scheduling System
All of this is wonderful, but what steps must be done to make it a reality? Here is what you need to do:

1. Purchase or create a complete online scheduling system. The system should have modules for administrators, trainees, and trainers.

2. Link the system into your current HR/employee database to get a listing of the eligible people for the training classes. These systems may also allow people to register online as a new trainee.

3. Create the look and feel of your new training site so it matches your corporate branding.

4. Enter/import the classes that are offered. Create descriptions, schedules, and prerequisites for the classes and spice them up with photos and graphics.

5. Link in computer-based training courses such that the site is the hub for all training offered.

6. Publish the classes online to allow trainees to book them.

7. Give logins to trainers and other resources so they may see their schedules.

8. Inform your set of users (trainees) of the new online scheduling hub and let them at it!

9. Track class attendance and trainee results by allowing the trainer or administrator to electronically check people in, add comments, and complete grading.

10. View progress of trainees by seeing completed courses and currently scheduled courses.

A centralized safety training system is a great addition to a current corporate intranet or as a Web site on the Internet if your training spans the public. It is critical that your scheduling tool allow an easy way to import information such as trainees, classes, and schedules, as well as export information such as class results, updated trainee profiles, and general statistics.

Not only does this provide excellent training results for your employees, but also it ensures your management keeps training on the front lines of long-range planning.

Happy scheduling!

This article originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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