If you’re in Safety or EHS, you know it’s important to deliver safety onboarding training to new hires. And that’s true if an experienced worker is moving to a new site, work area, or into a new role as well.
But you also probably know that delivering safety onboarding comes with a number of challenges. It’s hard to have time available every time a new worker is hired, and that doesn’t even account for having time every time someone moves from Site A to Site B, or from Production to Warehouse, or from Forklift Operator to Machine Tender.
Plus you’ve got to create all the appropriate safety training materials for new employees, and in addition for site-specific safety training, work area-specific safety training, job-role specific safety training, and special task-specific safety training too.
And of course you’ve got to actually KNOW that a new employee has been hired, or that someone has been transferred from Topeka to your site in Memphis, or from Converting to Production. We may all like to say that communications where we work are perfect, and that we’re all informed of events like these, but I’m pretty sure you’d quickly agree that’s not always the case.
So, in a nutshell, there are lots of reasons why it’s difficult to provide safety onboarding for new hires and job transfers.
That’s where an online system that includes a learning management system (LMS) can pay dividends. You can think of an LMS as an automated assistant that can coordinate all this stuff for you. Kind of a safety onboarding auto-pilot system.
So if you’re in the market for an LMS, and want to be able to use it for safety onboarding along with other safety/EHS training, we’ll give you an idea of some of the features you should want.
NOTE: This article will focus on providing safety training as part of an onboarding process. For a fuller discussion of onboarding as a whole, please see our companion article Onboarding New Employees: Why and How to Do It.
How an LMS Can Help with Safety Onboarding
Let’s take a look at how an LMS can help with this. We’ll break things down into six different categories:
- The safety training onboarding materials
- Assigning appropriate safety onboarding training to different parts of your company
- Creating new assignments for new hires and changing assignments for promotions, transfers, etc.
- Managing recurrent due dates for cyclical training needs (such as annual safety training or forklift training that must be completed every three years)
- Integrating your LMS with the HR department’s HRIS for further automation
Ready? Let’s get started.
Safety Onboarding Training Materials
Probably the first thing to think about in the context of safety onboarding is the safety training materials themselves. Let’s look at what an LMS should let you do or some features to look for.
Import Your Own Training Content
Your LMS should allow you to import existing training materials that you already have, or that you’ll make for yourself in the future, and then turn around and assign them to workers.
This should include:
- Written documents such as PDFs
- PowerPoint Presentations
- Your own self-created elearning courses (read for how-to info)
If an LMS doesn’t let you do this, don’t get the LMS.
Your LMS should allow you to easily import your own training materials.
Schedule Your Own Instructor-Led Training
But not all onboarding training can (or should) be conducted online. You’re going to want some face-to-face training too, including:
- Site walkthroughs/tours
- Safety meetings
- Job shadowing programs
Again, your LMS should provide tools for working with various types of “face-to-face” training too. This includes:
- Assigning the training
- Notifying employees of the assignment
- Informing them of details such as when, where, and with whom
- Granting credit for completing the training
- And more
As before, tools to administer real-world training is base-level, must-have functionality. Don’t get an LMS that only manages online training, because that’s not how you train.
Don’t settle for an LMS that doesn’t give you tools for scheduling and administering face-to-face training, such as instructor-led training.
Built-In Safety Training Content
This next one isn’t necessary, but it can sure be nice.
Some LMS providers also create off-the-shelf EHS training materials that you can get with the LMS. For example, here are elearning libraries for:
Consider partnering with a safety provider that makes an LMS and safety training courses, and then add your own site-specific safety training materials to the courses they provide.
Even better, in some cases the courses are multi-lingual, meaning your employees can launch the course and select the language that works best for them. If you work with a multi-language workforce, or with workers who don’t speak English as their primary language, this can be a huge help.
Multi-language elearning courses allow each employee to select the language they are most comfortable with.
Give this issue serious thought. It’s hard to make all your safety training on your own, and even if you do, consider these questions:
- What else could you have done during that same time?
- How effective will your training materials be (how familiar are you with adult learning principles and sound instructional design)?
- How much money will it take you to create those materials?
- What happens when it’s time to update those materials? Who does the work then?
Built-In Safety Training Creation Tools
Another not-necessary-but-very-nice feature is if your LMS includes tools to help you create training materials right inside the LMS.
This can include making things like:
- Online quizzes to check if people understood a PDF they read or a PowerPoint presentation they looked at, or if they understood what was covered in an instructor-led, classroom-style training session.
- Digital checklists to teach people safe procedures and then go into the field to verify that they can perform the procedures correctly
Tools like this can dramatically increase the power of your safety training program.
Your LMS should allow you to easily and quickly make your own online learning activities, such as an online quiz.
Assigning Safety Onboarding Materials To Different Parts of Your Company
Now let’s turn the discussion from your training materials to how you’ll assign the training to workers.
And not just to any workers (or, really, not just to all workers), but to the appropriate workers.
Because at most companies, different workers need different safety training. To put this in the simplest possible manner as an example, your accountant probably needs different safety training than your welder does. As a result, as you’re looking for an LMS, make sure it helps you assign safety onboarding (and other safety training) appropriately, as discussed below.
Make sure your LMS makes it easy to assign the training you want to the workers you want and to set the due dates and recurrent training dates you need.
Make Safety Onboarding Assignments to Entire Organization/Company/Site
There’s some safety onboarding training that everyone who works at a company (or a specific site) should complete. For example, training about your emergency action plan.
Once you’ve identified the kind of safety onboarding that’s “universal” in this way, your LMS should allow you to assign it to everyone in your organization.
Sounds good, right?
But wait, you might ask….if you assign it to everyone in your organization (today), what about new hires that come onboard tomorrow in at some other point in the future?
Your LMS should automate that for you. If you’ve made an assignment to “everyone” in the way we’re discussing, then as soon as a new employee is hired, that employee will become part of “everyone,” and they’ll automatically be assigned that universal training too.
Here we see how an LMS can allow you to assign different safety training materials to different parts of your organization–the whole company, everyone at a site, everyone in a department, everyone in a specific job role, individual workers, and even custom groups you create yourself.
Make Safety Onboarding Assignments to Employees in Specific Work Areas
You’ll also probably agree that people who work in one area often need different safety onboarding than do people who work in another area.
For example, in paper manufacturing facilities, the people who work at the Paper Machine need different safety onboarding than do the people who work in the Pulp Mill, Converting, and/or the Warehouse.
Your LMS should allow you to make specific safety onboarding assignments to workers in these different job areas as well. That way you can tailor appropriate safety training to the workers who need it. And avoid forcing workers who don’t need the training to experience the disheartening frustration of sitting through training that won’t protect them from the hazards they face on the job.
Two quick points about this:
- First, the LMS should allow you to make these area-specific safety onboarding assignments in addition to the universal, site- or company-wide safety assignments. So that an employee who works at the Paper Machine will be assigned the universal safety onboarding (such as the emergency action plan) and safety training that’s relevant to working at the Paper Machine, while a second worker who works in the Warehouse will be assigned that same universal safety training but will also be assigned safety training that’s relevant to warehouse work.
- And second, that same point about how the LMS should automate safety onboarding assignments for people who get hired after the assignment was originally made (in other words–in the future) applies here as well, just as it did when we were discussing universal safety onboarding assignments.
Make Safety Onboarding Assignments to Employees With Specific Job Roles
We won’t belabor this point, because it’s very similar to the points we just explained above, but your LMS should also allow you to assign safety onboarding that’s specific to people with given job roles (in addition to the safety onboarding they were assigned because they work at the company and the safety onboarding they were assigned because they work in a given work area).
For example, in paper mills, you might see people with the following job roles all working at the Paper Machine:
- Machine Tender
- Back Tender
- 4th Hand
- 5th Hand
- Winder Operator
- Assistant Winder Operator
It’s conceivably and even likely that the safety onboarding for workers in these different job roles should be different (because they face different hazards in the course of their jobs). So make sure your LMS allows you this flexibility.
Managing Assignments for New Hires, Job Transfers, and Promotions
Now let’s take a look at how those safety assignments are made to different classes of “new workers,” including workers who:
- Are brand-spankin’-new hires
- Got transferred from one site to another site
- Got promoted from one job role to another job role (or demoted, though we don’t like to think that way)
- Is job-sharing or involved in cross-training for multiple job roles
Wouldn’t it be great if as soon as a person is hired at your company, their name is put into your LMS and they’re automatically assigned the appropriate safety onboarding training? That includes all the safety onboarding they need–universal company-wide training, plus safety onboarding that’s relevant to their site, work area, and job role?
Well, an LMS can do that for you. Or at least it should be able to.
You should be able to enter the new hire’s name into the LMS and have the LMS automatically assign the appropriate safety onboarding based on the site the person works at, the department they work in, and their job role.
To make this happen, you’d only have to enter the person’s name into the LMS manually or, even better, have your LMS integrated with your company’s HRIS system and have that automated for you too (see the section below about HRIS integrations for more on this).
Type in the name of a newly hired worker, specific the worker’s job role, and your LMS should automatically assign the appropriate safety onboarding training.
Job Transfers and Promotions
Just as an LMS can automate safety onboarding assignments for new hires, it should be able to do the same for existing employees who are transferred or promoted from site-to-site or job role-to-job role.
The LMS should do at least these five things in those instances:
- Keep a record of all previous safety onboarding training the worker completed (as well as all other safety training and all other training, naturally)
- Remove the previous onboarding assignment (that was relevant to their previous position)
- Create a new onboarding assignment (that is relevant to their new position)
- Automatically adjust due dates so they’re appropriate for their circumstances, based on the date of their transfer
- Grant credit for any parts of the new safety onboarding assignment that they’ve already completed earlier (that’s default behavior, which you should be able to override if you wish).
If an employee is transferred or promoted, just change their job role in the LMS and the LMS should automatically assign new job-specific safety onboarding for that new job role.
Delivering The Training Online (Or Some of It)
What good is a safety onboarding assignment if the worker can’t complete it?
Your LMS should notify the employee of their assignment and let them begin completing the online portions of it immediately.
This is true for all workers at your site who you work with and see every day, which is nice.
But it’s also true for all those other workers you don’t see every day, including:
- Workers on other shifts
- Workers at different sites
- Workers at distant, remote locations
- Workers who are mobile and/or work on the road
- Workers who work from home
Having an LMS that can deliver safety onboarding training online (or at least a part of it) greatly reduces scheduling headaches, coordination difficulties, travel expenses, and safety training that just never gets done because it’s too hard to pull off.
When workers log into the LMS, they can see all the onboarding training they’re assigned and become to complete some of it online immediately.
Of course, if you’ve gone to the work of importing training for safety onboarding, assigning it, and ensuring there’s a way to deliver it, you’re also going to want a way to know if the employees complete the training.
That’s where reporting comes in.
Your LMS should allow you to:
- Generate a report to check the progress of any worker on their safety onboarding
- Generate that same report on a group of workers–all new hires, for example, or everyone in a department, site, or the entire organization
- Automatically generate the report, with fresh and current data, as an email every day, week, or month (or at any other time interval you request)
- Send the report to others, including department managers, shift supervisors, and your own bosses/managers
- Create a schedule so that those department managers, shift supervisors, and others receive the report with fresh and current data every day, week, or month (or at any other time interval you request)
Reports should make it easy to quickly see who’s done and not done with safety onboarding training.
Managing Recurrent Training Needs (Annual Safety Training, Etc.)
One of the more difficult things to keep on top of in safety/EHS training is the need to manage training that employees must complete recurrently over time, such as:
- Annual HazCom training
- Forklift training, which must be completed every three years
Your LMS should provide tools to help you manage this so you don’t have to keep it all in your head somehow. Those tools should:
- Know when workers are “current” and “expired” on recurrent training
- Notify workers when they’re about to expire
- Give workers a chance to complete the training before they expire
- Notify managers of workers who are about to expire
- Notify managers of workers who have expired
- Keep records of every time a worker has completed training–not just the most recent time
Your LMS should automatically manage recurrent training due dates for training that must be completed yearly (or at other intervals).
Many or most companies have and use human resources information system software, commonly known as an HRIS.
This is software that the HR department uses to manage employee information, including names, job titles, salary, performance appraisals, and more.
Your LMS should be capable of integrating with your company’s HRIS system. That way, when a new employee is hired, and HR enters that person (and their job role) into the HRIS system, that person will also automatically be entered into your LMS, where you manage your safety onboarding and other safety training assignments.
Because the HRIS knows the new employees job role, it can pass that information to the LMS, which in turn can use that information to assign appropriate safety onboarding based on:
- The company the person works for
- The site the person works at
- The person’s work area
- The person’s job role
You may have already guessed this, but just to dot our I’s and cross our T’s, the same is true if someone gets transferred or promoted. Your HR department will make the change in the HRIS system; that will make the change in your LMS; and that will automatically change safety onboarding assignments.
If your LMS can be integrated with your HRIS, even more of safety onboarding (and other safety training) can be automated. This can save even more time and money and reduce many common training-related headaches (such as knowing about a new hire or a recent job transfer).
LMS Overview Videos
Now that you’ve got some ideas of how an LMS can help you with your safety onboarding, here are a few short videos demonstrating from LMSs from Convergence Training:
The video below is a quick overview of the Convergence Training Enterprise LMS. It’s a full-featured, robust LMS. We also offer our Express LMS, which is still very powerful, but has fewer features and is generally used at smaller workplaces. Both LMSs work great for safety onboarding.
And the video below is a quick overview of the Convergence Training Surface Mining/MSHA LMS. It does all the stuff you’d expect an LMS to do (including all of the safety onboarding we discussed here), but in addition it creates documentation necessary for MSHA Part 46 compliance and comes with a library of mining safety elearning courses that you can use for your mining safety training.
Conclusion: Safety Onboarding Made Easier with an LMS
Now you’ve got a few ideas about how an LMS can help with your safety onboarding training and what to look for in an LMS to make sure it’s done right.
What do you think? What are some other needs for safety onboarding that we didn’t mention? And other than onboarding, what are some other things you might struggle with related to safety and/or EHS training?
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