Does Your Safety Training Work?

Here's how to put your workplace safety programs to the test
by SKULI GUDMUNDSSON, CEO of OCCU-TEC Inc.
This is part 1 of a 2-part series:

Imagine having a standard report card available to measure the effectiveness of your company's safety training, one that allowed you to plug in A's, B's or C's in a matter of seconds.

Back to School Safety

August 22nd, 2017

Slips, Trips, and Falls: What You Need to Know
A recent review of our educational institution customers’ injury claims reveals that slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of accidents.
These accidents have resulted in head injuries, back injuries, broken bones, cuts, lacerations, and sprained muscles.

Now, more than ever: Keep water out of your storage tank system

- Courtesy Steel Tank Institute/Steel Plate Fabricators Assn

Over the past ten years, there has been a proliferation of documents emphasizing the importance of fuel storage system maintenance--especially keeping water out of your tanks.

Why it's important

There are a number of reasons why keeping water out of storage tank systems is important.

Traditional Learning Model Shifting To More Social And Online Setting

According to the ninth annual “ Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011 ” survey, the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6 million.  Now nearly one-third of all students in higher education are taking at least one online course.  The survey is based on responses from over 2,500 academic leaders, and is a leading barometer of online learning in the United States. Key report findings include: Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year. The 10% growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population. Thirty-one percent of higher education students now take at least one course online. Reported year-to-year enrollment changes for fully online programs by discipline show most are growing. Academic leaders believe that the level of student satisfaction is equivalent for online and face-to-face courses. 65% of higher education institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long-term strategy. By 2015, 25 million post-secondary students in the United States will be taking classes online.  The number of students who take classes exclusively on physical campuses are expected to plummet, from 14.4 million in 2010 to just 4.1 million five years later, according to a new forecast released by market research firm  Ambient Insight . With a new generation of worker, having previous experience with both online classes and social learning, entering the work force it is imperative for all businesses to re-evaluate the way they offer job training.  The shift in the teaching and learning paradigm (the old Carnegie model) is steadily evolving as technology itself does (the Computer-mediated model).  Learners are becoming more responsible for discovery and self-learning while teachers take on the role of facilitator.   Occupying a seat in a physical classroom for a specific period of time is fast becoming the exception rather than the rule.   With online access and a laptop computer or mobile tablet, learners are never more than a click away from the classroom. Social Learning is here to stay. The rapid growth in social learning isn’t likely to fade anytime soon either.  Social learning takes place at a wider scale than individual or group learning, up to a societal scale, through social interaction between peers.  According to   What is Social Learning?  by Mark Reed, to be considered social learning, a process must: demonstrate that a change in understanding has taken place in the individuals involved; demonstrate that this change goes beyond the individual and becomes situated within wider social units or communities of practice; and occur through social interactions and processes between actors within a social network. Social learning is not necessarily based on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL).  Rather it’s where learning takes place via social interaction often times through the Internet (Skype, YouTube, Dropbox, Facebook,  Moodle, etc.).  The process assumes that knowledge (as meaning and understanding) is socially constructed.  Learning takes place through conversations about content and grounded interaction about problems and actions.  Social learning is one of the best ways to gain a deeper understanding and learn something because it allows you to teach it to others.  It also aligns very well to how adults tend to learn the best. Adults are autonomous and self-directed. They need to be free to direct themselves and are relevancy-oriented relying heavily on life experiences and knowledge that may include work-related activities, family responsibilities, and previous education to advance their learning. E-Learning budgets Increasing ASTD’s 2010 State of the Industry Report shows that elearning is still increasing as it now accounts for 27.7 percent of corporate training, its highest level since ASTD began collecting data on the use of technology for this report 14 years ago (in 2008, it was 23.1 percent). By virtually every measure, traditional learning model are shifting away from the classroom experience as e-learning experiences unprecedented growth and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future. With new technology being developed and continuously implemented,  it isn’t surprising that successful companies are those that believe in lifelong learning for their workers. In order to survive in this new learning environment your company will need to develop strong online and social learning processes.

Who Needs Hazardous Materials Transportation Training?

If your employees are involved with hazardous materials, you must ensure that your employees receive appropriate training. This means ALL employees who meet DOT’s definition of “hazmat employees.” A hazmat employee is a person who is employed by a hazardous materials employer and “directly affects hazardous materials transportation safety. This is a broad definition, for example, an office assistant who types the required hazardous materials description on a shipping paper at the direction of another is a hazmat employee and must be trained, tested, and certified. Did you know that? If not, you may need to seek some advice from an experienced trainer who can help you with this complex regulatory issue. The regulations clearly intend that any individual who has any impact on the safety of hazmats in transportation is considered a hazmat employee who requires training and certification. HAZMAT EMPLOYER MUST train and test certify develop and retain records of current training (inclusive of preceding three years) for each hazmat employee (during the period of employment and 90 days thereafter) TRAINING MUST INCLUDE General awareness/familiarization Function-specific, training Safety Security awareness In-depth security training, if a security plan is required Driver training (for each hazmat employee who will operate a motor vehicle) RECURRING TRAINING Is required at least once every three years.  The three year period begins on the actual date of training. Relevant training received from a previous employer or other source may be used to satisfy the requirements, provided a current record of training is obtained from the previous employer or source (i.e., OSHA, EPA, and other Federal or international agencies.) Training must address components specified in 172.704(a) of the HMR to be considered applicable. Many training providers offer HAZMAT employee training online, however it is important to note that taking an online class may NOT satisfy the DOT’s training requrirements. That’s because many online training courses don’t offer function-specific training as required under the statute.  As an employer you may be unwittingly exposing yourself to potential regulatory fines and citations due to the easy access of cheap online training providers who are all too eager to collect fees without necessarily providing all the elements to regulatory compliance training program. As an employer you need to ask the tough questions of your training provider and don’t take their answer at face value if it seems ‘to good to be true’.   Review all of DOT’s training requirements , before you check this training off your “to do” list.  

Advances in Tablets and Smartphones Drive Increase in Mobile Learning

Workforce trainers have incorporated technology in their classroom instruction for decades.  However now with cloud computing and the growth of smaller, more portable computers and Internet-capable Smartphones and Tablets, it’s now possible to bring their classroom to the technology. Future Workplace & IESE Business School M-Learning: From Anticipation To Reality By year end of 2011: nearly forty percent of executives plan to incorporate media tablets into learning and development initiative. Nearly 75% of these learning executives plan to incorporate smartphones by the end of this year. By 2015: Human Resource executives plan to leverage mobile devices not only for learning & performance support but also for coaching and mentoring employees. Five Barriers to Implementation Cost of developing content across all types of mobile devices and platforms. Security of issues associated with mobile devices Non-clarity on how to participate in mobile learning Out-dated IT policies Lagging instructional design expertise Internet is Everywhere There aren’t a lot of places these days that are devoid of an Internet connection, and many people can now access the web from anywhere they can get a cell phone signal.  Online collaborative learning is on the rise as a result.  Whether through blogging, podcasts, or more traditional online discussion forums, trainers and learners are experiencing a whole new world of opportunities. Now with the rise in popularity of Tablets; they too are finding a home in both the traditional and the virtual classrooms.  Like many Smartphones, Tablets have touch capabilities built into the screen.  Learners can touch the screen on Tablets to manipulate, interact and share content with one another inside and outside the classroom, which can foster an interactive environment.   Tablets are more than an interactive tool; they can also save time.   Instead of spending hours transcribing classroom records and scores;  trainers can simply mark papers electronically and then transfer the scores directly into their Learning Management System (LMS). mLearning implementation The actual implementation of mLearning is growing faster in some sectors more than others.  According to eLearning Guild research data collected from members worldwide, the use of mLearning for social networking and communication is currently more prevalent than it is for the development of custom applications, with 38.1% of organizations either implementing, designing, or building the business case for social networking and only 25.7% for custom application development.   However of those who have already conducted an mLearning implementation, 50% are seeing positive returns.

EPA Gets Conviction on Asbestos Training Scam

“Today, justice was served, and Albania Deleon has finally faced the consequences of her crimes…” EPA has announced that the former owner of the country’s largest asbestos abatement training school was sentenced to prison, after having fled the United States after her trial in November 2008. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton sentenced Albania Deleon, 41, formerly of Andover, Mass., to 87 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and $369,015 to AIM Mutual Insurance Company. According to the EPA, Deleon who owned and operated Environmental Compliance Training (ECT), a certified asbestos training school located in Methuen, MA, offered training courses on a weekly basis at her Methuen offices, however, many of the recipients of the certificates never took the required course. Instead, with Deleon’s knowledge and approval, ECT’s office employees issued certificates of course completion to thousands of individuals who did not take the course. These individuals filed the certificates with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety in order to be authorized to work in the asbestos removal industry. According to Court documents many of the recipients were illegal aliens who wished to skip the 4-daylong course so that they would not forego a week’s pay.  Of course as already noted by others the losers in this scam were the workers who were not knowledgeable of the hazards of asbestos exposure and didn’t know how to protect themselves from unnecessary exposure in the work place.  In return for not losing one weeks pay they may face an even more uncertain future…one filled with asbestos related illnesses.  Their quality of life may be significantly altered and so to their family’s! Some have contended that many of the untrained workers were hired by another firm Deleon owned and assigned to perform asbestos abatement and demolition, which makes this scam even worse for the customers and clients of this scam.  Their project may not have been handled within the rules and laws set out to protect them and the public from the dangers of asbestos removal projects. From 2001 to 2006 ECT issued training certificates to over 2,000 untrained individuals.  According to the EPA Press Release, “Today’s sentence marks the final chapter in bringing Albania Deleon to justice,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Committing environmental crimes to make a profit that put workers and our communities at risk carry serious consequences.” Deleon is the fifth environmental criminal captured since the EPA fugitive website was launched in December 2008.