October 1, 2020

OSHA Training Online: How to Create a Safe Working Environment for Your Employees

OSHA Training Online: How to Create a Safe Working Environment for Your Employees featured image

OSHA training is available in several delivery methods, including online. This can make it easy and convenient to create a safe environment.

An employee wears PPE in a facility.

OSHA safety training is available online.

One of the major functions of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is to set requirements around preparation to work in potentially dangerous conditions. Allowing employees to use equipment they are not familiar with, or to enter workplaces they are unaccustomed to, could end in disaster. In the interest of stopping preventable injuries and fatalities on the job, OSHA has created several training requirements for companies to follow, broken down into construction, maritime and general industry segments.
While it’s clearly important to prepare workers for the risks and challenges they may face on the job, there are complicating factors. For instance, training itself could be a risk factor today, with in-person sessions rendered especially inadvisable by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, many training providers offer online, video-based courses designed to suit OSHA’s requirements. This means your organization can embrace the increasingly popular digital training model while also giving your employees a high-quality grounding in safety practices recommended and required by OSHA.

What are the OSHA Training Requirements?

According to OSHA’s training handbook, employee education is “an essential part of every employer’s safety and health program for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses.” To this end, the government organization has established numerous guidelines around which types of roles, duties and environments require safety training. In keeping with OSHA’s definition of training as both an essential way to prevent harm to employees and to increase a company’s overall performance, the rules range from teaching workers about evacuation plans to instructing them on the proper use of personal protective equipment and heavy machinery.
As the publication notes, investigators will always ask whether an employee was properly trained for their duties in the wake of an accident. This highlights the fact that training programs should be comprehensive, compliant and well-documented. There should be notes safely filed regarding which employees have taken a particular course and when they did so, ensuring crews have been properly prepared for their roles.

An employee inspects a ladder.Knowing safety procedures can protect your employees from everyday danger.

How Does OSHA Regulate Certification?

While OSHA maintains regulations around which types of training companies need to invest in, it does allow organizations freedom regarding these programs. This means you can choose the provider for your OSHA training courses, as well as the delivery method. As an employer, you should select training that is specific to your workplace, accurately reflecting all the hazards and risk factors that may face your employees in their day-to-day roles. This means considering both the environment where people work, the equipment they use and the tasks they are called on to complete.
Training materials developed by experts to specifically target OSHA regulations are common today, as meeting these standards is an important part of running a safe and compliant workplace. OSHA has published guidance on making your training program as effective as possible. Rather than being a set of standards, this is a set of best practices to help you select programs that will work for your employees, and is based around the concept of adult education – adult learners should be actively engaged in the materials presented to them, which should have clear and immediate relevance for their lives.
While OSHA created its guidelines with the assumption an in-person teacher would be administering the courses, that model is increasingly being replaced by interactive online coursework. With numerous companies still dealing with pandemic-related social distancing regulations and still more embracing more dispersed workforces in general, it’s important to note you can use digital training to fulfill safety training requirements for OSHA purposes. You should treat these programs with the same seriousness and care that goes into designing all your employee education programs, as the lessons contained therein are as relevant as ever, and inspectors will still want to verify an employee’s training status in case of an accident.

What Are The Advantages of Online OSHA Training?

There are several advantages of the online training model, factors which helped this content delivery style gain ground even before the pandemic shutdowns normalized remote work for a number of companies and industries. For instance, when you bring a new employee into the organization, it’s important to bring the new hire up to speed on the safety precautions associated with their role. It is not efficient or cost-effective to accomplish this process with an in-person trainer, especially if you only hire one employee at a time.
Digital courses are easy to send to the whole workforce for personnel to complete on their own time. By selecting courses with interactive assessments, you can ensure participants are actually completing the materials, and automatically store a record of their attendance and completion. In the case of a safety incident on the job, having this data on hand in such an easy-to-retrieve format can prove helpful.
Furthermore, considering the difference in cost and user-friendliness between online and in-person instruction, digital courses make it easier to secure a wide variety of OSHA training courses for different groupings within your company who serve in a variety of settings or have to use different equipment. These digital modules also allow you to quickly switch new content in when there is an update to a regulation, an environmental factor changes or a new piece of equipment is introduced.
Setting up compliant, high-quality OSHA training is an essential part of preparing your employees for the challenging conditions they’ll face on the job every day. When you choose online courses for this purpose, the whole process can become easier, helping you get the job done right.

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