Employee Training Leads to Increased Productivity

[tweetmeme]According to ASTD research, companies that invest in employee learning have higher productivity, revenue growth, and profit growth than companies that do not. Employee training is a fundamental determinant of customer satisfaction, sales per employee, and market capitalization within an organization. Employee satisfaction with opportunities for learning and development is one of the most important predictors of whether an employee will stay with his or her current employer and the opportunity for professional development and training is one of the top three things people consider when deciding where they want to work.

Training should be viewed as a business value for your organization. There are measurable and hidden qualities that determine the health and well-being of an organization, drive decision-making for all work activities, and attract investors. A well trained workforce is definitely a quality that your organization needs to succeed.

Five ways you can increase the payback of your training dollars

  • Make training on ongoing process, and reassess training needs frequently to make sure you’re meeting today’s needs, not yesterday’s.
  • Encourage employees to talk about their training needs and request additional training.
  • Provide employees with opportunities to use newly learned skills on the job.
  • Make sure your training is comprehensive, interesting, and interactive, and gives employees the chance to practice new skills in a safe setting.
  • Send employees back to work with learning aids such as checklists, step-by-step instructions, and safety reminders that help them safely and effectively transfer newly learned skills to their job.

Career Success Means Being Fully Engaged!

[tweetmeme]I have spent a lot of time and energy developing this blog.  My aim is now as it has always been, to deliver a voice of encouragement and to be resource for folks looking to help keep themselves or others safe in the workplace.  I have often utilized humor or tried to highlight some slightly off-center topics to engage my readers.  But just the other day I was at lunch with a friend and we were talking about our careers, family, NCAA tournament…the usual.  I guess at some moment I must have seemed down, because my friend asked me if I was happy?  I instinctively said “sure”.  He then asked me, “Why do you do it?”  “Why do you invest so much energy into your work….I mean what is your motivation?  What are you passionate about?”

I thought for sure my friend was having a mid-life crisis or worse he thought I might be having a crisis.  I left that lunch not really answering the question, at least not to myself.  Oh, I replied the usual answers we all give, family and relationships, etc.  But later after more reflection I came to the unexpected conclusion that it wasn’t just my family and personal relationships that drive me, but that I absolutely love what I do and I hold a strong conviction that environmental, health and safety is one of the most important, challenging, and respectable professions available.  I started to write down some of the challenges that I haven’t been able to fully solve or overcome within EHS.   Just that simple act of writing them down in front of me:  there they were staring at me still fighting with me.  Well that got my competitive juices flowing and I immediately wanted more than ever to meet these challenges and solve them once and for all.

As a EHS professional, or any professional, if you want to succeed in something you are not fully engaged in you are doomed to fail.  I realized that my friend must have sensed that I haven’t been as fully engaged as I usually am and he decided to challenge me on it.   So in turn I am challenging you!  What are you passionate about?  If you want to be happy you need to make sure you are getting something from your career choice beyond the paycheck.  Whether its personal growth, working to a common purpose, or being part of a larger process you need to take time to celebrate the successes you have and repeat them when you can.  Being engaged in your work means having fun and being enthusiastic about it.  It is not acceptable to simply be satisfied with your job if you really want to succeed and be happy.

Whenever possible, do something that really charges you up.  If having face-to-face time with the front line employees leave you with a feeling of accomplishment, make time in your schedule to do more of that.  If training employees on hazard awareness helps you feel like you are making a difference, then try to do more of that.  Don’t mistake this with only doing the things that are easy or fun, but definitely make time for them.

Quick Tips for Happy Engaged People

  • Remember the most important skill you will ever have or learn will come from a true desire to help others.
  • Find intrinsic enjoyment in your work;  if you can’t, maybe you need a change.
  • Invest the time and resources to stay current in your industry.
  • Your relationships with management and labor have the biggest impact on your success.  Nurture those relationships!
  • Top performance requires time to rest.  Don’t beat yourself up for downtime.  Rest and relaxation helps recharge your batteries.
  • Show genuine gratitude to your support team.  This includes anyone who has a hand in your success.

Updated OSHA Videos Intended To Provide Respirator Training Resources


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently posted a series of 17 videos to help workers learn about the proper use of respirators on the job.

These short videos are intended to provide information to workers in general industry and construction.  Topics include OSHA’s Respiratory Standard, respirator use, training, fit-testing and detecting counterfeit respirators. The videos are available with closed captioning for streaming or download from OSHA’s Web site.

OSHA’s Safety and Health topics page on Respiratory Protection also includes additional training materials, information about occupational respiratory hazards in different industries, and details of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134 and 29 CFR 1926.103).

Online Learning Programs Succeed or Fail Before They Are Implemented.

[tweetmeme]Experts have opined on the development of the skills necessary to succeed in online learning for years, and although in today’s business environment it is easy to find an online course provider that’s both convenient and accessible; your workers may face significant challenges in developing the skills necessary for this type of learning.   Online training programs targeting adult learners in the workforce have grown dramatically over past few years.  Yet relatively few online learning providers offer what it really takes to have a successful online learning program.

In many recently published studies  and articles most students, when asked, agree that online discussions with fellow students and the instructor are central to the learning experience.  Instructors can encourage students to develop techniques to make the most of online discussions, which may add to a student’s learning experience and promote success in the online course.  The instructor can also encourage students to apply concepts from the online course, or as one student described it, “use it or lose it,” to develop an ability to retain and synthesize course objectives.   Another key for successful online learning is the importance of making a connection with fellow students.   Students who develop a meaningful connection with their co-workers and peers receive and provide support to one another.   The online connections also promote a sense of being a learner among other learners.

Staying motivated in the course is a challenge for students taking stand alone online courses.   It is important to develop a personal motivation strategy to make the online learning experience successful; one that can keep them from losing interest or burning out.   However many students simply do have the skill set necessary to develop this kind of strategy, let alone being able to implement it in a meaningful way.

Students in a recent study published by Educause Quarterly agreed that taking the following practical steps helped them succeed in their online courses:

Tips for Successful Online Learning

  1. Develop a time-management strategy.
  2. Make the most of online discussions.
  3. Use it or lose it.
  4. Make questions useful to your learning.
  5. Stay motivated.
  6. Communicate the instruction techniques that work.
  7. Make connections with fellow students.

Learning Environment

Many companies rush into online learning as a way to save money, and while it is true that on the balance it is less expensive, great care and planning should be taken in order to make sure it is a successful program.

An ideal study environment is just that – ideal.   Some students need absolute silence while others can’t seem to concentrate without noise in the background.   No matter what the preference, a well-lit place that is free from distractions is recommended.   Note that students make much better use of thirty minutes of disruption-free study than an hour’s worth of commotion-filled learning.

Keep your online learning sessions short!  For most learners a one to two hour session is ideal.

Don’t assume that all of your employees have the same level of computer savvy as you do.  Provide required training on course orientation and computer basics; how to log in, what to expect when logging in, basic screen layouts, how to get additional resources, etc.   Make sure everyone knows how to ask for help!

Implementing a great online learning program starts with great planning.  Correctly implementing an online learning program will greatly improve its success and its survival ability during tough economic times, and lead to greater overall satisfaction and increase the learning opportunities for your company.

Traditional Learning Model Shifting To More Social And Online Setting

[tweetmeme]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:

  1. demonstrate that a change in understanding has taken place in the individuals involved;
  2. demonstrate that this change goes beyond the individual and becomes situated within wider social units or communities of practice; and
  3. 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?

[tweetmeme]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.


  • 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)


  • 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)


  • 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

[tweetmeme]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.   More powerful computing, increased internet coverage and advancements in applications has powered a huge demand in technology driven learning solutions.  It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that today’s learners are demanding more than just classroom lectures.  Adults don’t learn that way!  Increased interactivity, peer-to-peer mentoring, and ‘just in time’ learning has replaced the outdated ‘just in case’ learning model.

Future Workplace & IESE Business School Research:

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.

However we still face challenges with technology.  Some barriers to implementation can’t be resolved as easily as hoping that ‘there’s an App for that’.

Five Barriers to Implementation

  1. Cost of developing content across all types of mobile devices and platforms.
  2. Security of issues associated with mobile devices
  3. Non-clarity on how to participate in mobile learning
  4. Out-dated IT policies
  5. 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% of organizations either implementing, designing, or building the business case for social networking and only 25% for custom application development.   However of those who have already implemented  some sort of mLearning into their organizations, 50% are reporting immediate positive returns.

OSHA Limits Outreach Training to 7 1/2 Hours per Day. 10-Hr Class now will take 2 Days!

  [tweetmeme]The following  is copy from an August 6, 2010 memo issued from  Henry E. Payne, Director Training and Education,  Directorate of Training and Education, OSHA

 We are revising the OSHA Outreach Training Program to require authorized Outreach Trainers to limit their training to a maximum of conducted over a minimum of two days and 30-hour courses over a minimum of four days. This is another element in our effort to improve the quality and integrity of the Outreach Training Program.  We believe this key change will result in improved worker training.  Training that does not meet these requirements will not be recognized and trainers will not receive student completion cards.

Outreach Trainers will be allowed to seek approval of courses that cover more than trainer availability, time limits or missing work as extenuating circumstances. We will consider functions such as one-day events that are co-hosted by OSHA and which target a hard-to-reach worker group as an example of a training plan which may be approved. All requests for such approvals must be made in writing and sent the Directorate of Training and Education at least eight weeks prior to the start of the class.

The new policy is outlined in the attached flyer. Please ensure that all OSHA personnel conducting Outreach Training Program courses or assisting in this training are aware of this new requirement.  All Outreach Trainers will be informed that this policy is effective immediately, however we will extend a grace period to trainers for full implementation until December 31,2010. This requirement will be incorporated into the next revision ofthe Outreach Training Program Guidelines scheduled for October 2010.

 If you have any questions regarding the Outreach Training Program or the implementation of this requirement, please contact Don Guerra at the Directorate of Training and Education at (847) 759-7735.

OCCU-TEC brings e-learning into the 21st Century

[tweetmeme]If you were an employee of a large corporation in the 90’s, e-learning essentially meant opening a PowerPoint presentation and scanning through pages and pages of fairly dry material. This was often referred to as CBT (Computer Based Training), and employees could answer questions by ticking a box to indicate they had absorbed the text.  But it didn’t signify that they necessarily understood it!

In order to ensure that employees received training that they actually understood; companies had little choice but to gather up the employees and pay an instructor to come their site to conduct training or send their personnel to a remote location in order to provide them with essential training.  This not only cost a lot of money, but wastes valuable company time.  Today with modern learning management systems (LMS) offering fully functional e-learning systems that are highly cost effective, learners need only log into the LMS using a web browser, select courses and launch them.

Learning Management Systems

Learn more about OCCU-TEC's e-learning solutions; click here

And the timing couldn’t be better; more than 14% of the American workforce is working remotely or virtually – outside the traditional office – according to an article by Douglas Gantenbein, featured on Microsoft.com.  In fact, a recent survey by OfficeTeam indicates that 69% of polled executives said it was common for their companies’ employees to work off-site.  What is perhaps more telling is that 82% of these managers said they expect the number of employees who work remotely to increase in the next five years.  

With ever-increasing technology and communication tools, and the rising costs of travel, working remotely is becoming a fast-growing trend in companies around the world.  With more employees geographically dispersed and working from home, we need to ensure that our organizations are providing quality training and development for organizational growth in today’s non-traditional work environment.

Here are three elements OCCU-TEC uses for providing a high-quality and engaging distance learning experience.

e-Learning is a rather broad, umbrella term encompassing many different virtual learning experiences. With the right content, e-learning can be a highly engaging and enriching experience for learners. e-Learning is certainly a natural fit for the self-paced, self-motivated remote employee.  With e-learning, discussion threads and chat groups assist facilitators and managers with maintaining the team element that often evades e-learning activities.  With e-learning management software, remote employees can easily access their training curriculums, and it can be easily managed by managers and administrators – no matter where they’re located.

Streaming Video
Streaming video allows remote employees to access entertaining, engaging course content via the Internet.  This type of content used to only be available in either an instructor-led classroom setting, or with timely delays and costs due to shipping and the administrative tracking of videos sent to multiple office locations.  With streaming video, remote employees can immediately access training and development videos – and employees dispersed geographically can have the exact same learning experience.  This is great for dispersed work teams!

Virtual Classroom
With virtual classrooms, the moderator or facilitator and learners are geographically dispersed, and come together virtually, or online, to participate in learning activities.  There are a number of course management and multimedia web-based applications available in which you can deploy, manage and report on your training and development activities … virtually!  We’ve recently integrated Adobe Connect Pro with our virtual learning systems to create an outlet for our clients’ training needs.  

Most virtual classroom experiences utilize word-processing documents, such as PowerPoint templates, so that learners logging in to the course can follow the learning and talking points with a visual guide.  Our virtual interfaces also allow learners the ability to download classroom materials and interact with the class via web-conferencing.  What’s great about the virtual classroom is its interactivity.  It mimics the traditional classroom experience, with immediate instructor feedback.

Contact me at learningsolutions@occutec.com to learn more.

Current Training Requirements for the Gulf Oil Spill Workers

[tweetmeme] OSHA has issued a recent press release detailing the training requriements for clean up workers in the Gulf.  Basically you have to have 40-HAZWOPER and site specific training provided by BP or one of BP approved training contractors. 

According the OSHA Press Release you must be trained on the hazards of your job in a language that you understand. You must be trained before you begin oil spill response and clean-up work.  Your employer must determine the type and length of training you will need.  Training is based on your job duties and the job’s hazards. OSHA is monitoring BP to make sure that their site training meets OSHA requirements.

NOTE: At this time, BP has stated that you must be hired by a BP contractor before you attend training. Taking a class without already having a job does not guarantee that you will get a job later.


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