Workplace Solutions Education Facility safety Training

Set up employees for online learning success

What should employers and environmental, health and safety professionals consider when choosing virtual training for workers?


Responding is Roger Marks, content manager, Lion Technology Inc., Sparta, NJ.

From college classes to kindergarten, doctor visits to dance classes, in 2020, nearly every part of our lives has gone virtual. Amid the COVID-19 public health crisis, organizations large and small are relying on remote training options to onboard new employees, keep up with regulatory changes, and meet federal and state requirements.

But not every virtual training course is equal in quality or reliability. What separates a good online course from a not-so-good one? To set up employees for success in remote learning, EHS leaders should keep some key considerations in mind.

First and foremost, before selecting any online course, you should be confident that the provider offers accurate, up-to-date training material. This is especially true in the workplace safety and environmental compliance world, where insufficient training can lead to injuries, emergency releases and regulatory penalties.

In addition to accurate, up-to-date content, the following factors set apart the best online courses and help ensure employees get what they need from remote learning.

Choosing the right training format

Training providers deliver virtual instruction in two familiar formats: self-paced online courses and live webinars. Each offers unique benefits for remote learners.

For professionals who want flexibility to access and complete training when and where they want, a self-paced online course is a convenient option. Many self-paced courses allow students to pause and resume as needed, replay complex material, and access extra resources with a click of the mouse.

For employees who prefer to learn with a live instructor, get answers to their questions in real time, and start and finish on a set schedule, a live webinar may be the better choice. Choosing the training format that best meets your employees’ needs will go a long way toward ensuring employee success.

Features that make training effective

Whether delivered live or in a self-paced format, remote training should include interactive elements such as exercises, knowledge checks and quizzes that keep employees engaged and drive home key concepts.

When we’re asked to recall information and apply what we learn, we’re far more likely to understand and retain the important details along the way.

Another feature to consider is closed captions – a valuable learning tool for people with and without hearing loss. Students who use closed captions have an easier time staying focused throughout online training. This is crucial when the training touches on complex regulatory requirements or safety concepts.

In EHS, learning never stops

Learning doesn’t stop when training is over. To put what they learn to practical use, managers and employees might need to get clarification or return to the training material for a quick refresher from time to time.

On that note, your connection to a training provider shouldn’t end when you complete a course. Seek out a provider that offers resources to support your team on the job. This could include periodic updates to training materials, alerts on major regulatory changes or a question-and-answer service for help with challenging real-world situations.

However it’s delivered, EHS training exists to help professionals navigate real-world situations and make smart decisions about safety and compliance. The right remote training can accomplish this when it gives employees the tools they need to really learn the material.

By taking time to select the best remote training option available, employers can maximize the value of the training workers receive and set up their teams for success.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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