Laptops and Tablets: The Latest Construction Safety Equipment
By Robert Van Hoof
Justifiably, safety is a top concern in almost every conversation at most companies engaged in construction. OSHA reports that in 2013 there were more than 197,000 nonfatal occupational injuries in construction and 824 fatalities.
The fact is there are hundreds of ways a person can get hurt just going from point “A” to point “B” on most construction sites. If the person engages in actual construction activities, the risk of injury climbs quickly. Even when people are safe from injury, errors and mishaps risk damaging expensive materials and equipment. These incidents can also affect production timelines and insurance.
Record keeping on who has been properly trained for each task can be monumental. For self-performed activities, training information may be accessible in HR records or other systems designed to track course completions and certifications. However, most construction sites have a number of contract employees, sub-contractors and vendors. Therefore, GCs often have to depend on the contracted company to keep accurate records and ensure proper safety training. Even with morning safety meetings and regular discussions with project foremen, workers may be performing tasks for which safety training was done on the fly with little assurance that it actually meets OSHA or industry standards.
There will always be a place and need for hands-on and classroom training. However, with the accessibility and convenience of laptops and tablets, basic skills training, refresher testing and on-site certification is now possible without the time loss and cost associated with off-site courses and seminars.
Many e-Learning course providers have established web-based platforms to aid field staff in improving workplace safety and job skills. Online certification is available for a variety of training needs including ensuring that contract laborers understand safety equipment requirements and lifting procedures; refreshing bridge crane and forklift operators on proper rigging and hand signals; as well as educating confined-space crews on hazardous atmospheres, necessary safety equipment and permit requirements.
Choosing an e-Learning Provider
Selecting the right e-Learning provider requires research. Not all courses and testing systems are the same. It is important to make sure that the courses clearly state that they meet proper regulatory guidelines. As important is that the courses are designed by experts with first-hand knowledge of what a worker will face in the field.
Likewise, maintaining certificates of completion and individual employee records within the system will be very helpful. With the labor shortages faced throughout the construction industry, having documentation on preferred contract employees and sub-contractor crews will expedite staffing choices from one project site to the next.
Another consideration is pricing structure. This can vary widely, from committing to long-term contracts, to purchasing user packages, to simple pay-per-view billing. As a company enters into the e-Learning market, starting with a no-commitment, pay-per-view options allows the firm to test the technology and courses at a nominal cost. In fact, some vendors will offer basic courses for free to earn a contractor’s business.
For firms that already use a learning management system, integration of technology will be key. Look for a provider that can integrate the online courses and record keeping with the existing system, as well as support updates for the library of existing courses. The provider may even offer to host all of the firm’s proprietary courses externally. This will allow for a single, online interface and eliminate some of the IT costs associated with learning management systems.
Consulting an e-Learning specialist is often the fastest way to evaluate the cost and benefits of each option. Look for a vendor that offers multiple platforms, and has longevity in the field to receive the most balanced and unbiased counsel.
Construction is a dangerous industry. So much so, that OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down has expanded to be two-weeks long. Although falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction workers, according to OSHA, it is far from the only safety risk faced on the job site. From proper use of power tools, to lockout / tagout procedures, to exposures to gasses and toxic substances, OSHA has an alphabet of safety standards with which construction workers need to comply. To ensure a well-trained labor force, e-Learning on laptops and tablets is the newest piece of safety equipment that should be in every toolbox.
| Robert Van Hoof is the CEO of Strategic Vision, Inc. and its subsidiaries PPVtrain.com and SCORMstore.com. He has
| more than 30 years of experience in the development of blended and technology-based training programs for multiple
|U.S. government departments and Fortune 500 companies, which include U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Homeland
|Security, U.S. Department of the Interior, United Technologies, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne and Duke Energy.
|Mr. Van Hoof can be reached at email@example.com.