Closing the Skills Gap with Structured On-The-Job Training (OJT)

closing-the-skills-gapI spend a lot of time working with new customers in the manufacturing sector who are just beginning to use our Convergence learning management system (LMS) at their workplace as they try to close a skill gap at work.

At many of these businesses, a large part of the workforce is older and nearing retirement. These older workers are very experienced and have a lot of knowledge about the processes, procedures, and machines in their workplace. Unfortunately, that information is typically just “in their heads” — it’s rarely written down, documented, or recorded in any way.

As these more experienced workers retire, the manufacturing companies are scrambling to hire newer, younger workers to take their place. These workers are ambitious and work hard, but they know only a fraction of the stuff they need to know to operate as effectively as the more experienced workers they’ll need to replace soon.

Naturally, our customers want to facilitate the transfer of critical knowledge and skills to these new workers. Ideally, they can get the new hires up to speed quickly, and they can capture that critical knowledge before the more experienced workers retire.

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New MSHA Coal Mining Dust Rule Takes Effect August 1, 2014

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In the early 1900s, when my grandfather was just a little boy, he left his home in Lithuania to come to America. He settled and grew up in Pennsylvania, where he worked in coal mines for many years when he was young. When he got older, he moved to Detroit, where he worked at Ford’s Willow Run plant. There, he helped to make the B-24 bombers that played a role in helping the United States come out on the right side of WWII. (My grandmother also worked on the line at Willow Run, by the way.)

But those years in the Pennsylvania coal mines caught up my with grandfather, and he passed away of black lung disease when I was just a kid. I have only a few memories of him, and my grandmother lived twenty more years as a widow.

It’s a sad story for me and my family, but it’s newsworthy because it’s common–many American miners died of black lung disease back then. But tragically, that’s not just part of the distant past. According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), black lung has played a role in the death of at least 76,000 miners since 1968. In addition, more than $45 billion in federal compensation benefits has been paid to miners disabled by black lung and to their survivors. And even today, miners continue to be diagnosed with black lung–in fact, black lung rates have increased in recent years.

And that’s why MSHA published a new rule in April to lower the rates of respirable coal mine dust–the stuff that causes black lung. And that rule is set to go into effect soon–August 1, 2014.

What all that said, let’s take a closer look at this new MSHA Coal Mining Dust rule.

Need help training your miners? Check out our Learning Management System (LMS) for mine operators and our mining safety courses.

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New Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Rule Published by OSHA

New electric power generation, transmission, and distribution rule

In case you missed it, OSHA just published a new electric power generation, transmission, and distribution rule.

To be exact, the announcement was made April 14, 2014, and the rule goes into effect on July 10, 2014 (that “go live” date is now coming up soon). But, OSHA DID delay compliance and enforcement guidelines for some of the requirements. See below for more on that.

According to OSHA, the changes:

  • Update the Electric Power Transmission and Distribution for Construction standard, issued in 1972
  • Update the Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution for General Industry (Operation and Maintenance) standard, issued in 1994
  • Harmonize the two standards (general industry and construction) so the same rules apply generally to the same kinds of work
  • Update the standards so they’re based on the latest consensus standards and improvements in electrical safety technology

OSHA’s provided lots of information here. In addition, we’ve gathered that information up and presented it below (relying heavily on their handy Fact Sheet and FAQ, parts of which we’ve directly copied and pasted below so you get the words from the horse’s mouth).

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Forklift Safety Information: Free Checklists, Word Game, FAQs, and More

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We’ve got some online forklift training materials for you in this article. Really, it applies to all sorts of powered industrial trucks (PITs). Let us set the scene first.

OSHA puts out a list of the top 10 most cited violations every year. Here’s the list from 2016. The powered industrial truck standard is on that list every year. Violations of the OSHA Powered Industrial Trucks (PIT) standard (1910.178) were #6 on OSHA’s Top Ten List of 2016. And as you know, PITs include things like forklifts and clamp trucks.

Almost every year, the OSHA Top Ten list includes the exact same standards. Maybe there’s a little re-ordering, but that tends to be the big difference. So we’re pulling together a series of articles to help you train your workers about each of the top ten OSHA standards, and this article on forklifts and PITs is part of that bigger effort.

In this article, we’ve got a bunch of resources about forklifts and other powered industrial trucks for you.

And in addition to this article, we’ve got the following forklift-related articles for you too:

Read on to learn about forklift safety and online forklift training.

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eLearning or DVD – What’s Better for Workforce Training?

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Still using DVDs to deliver video-based training? You’re not alone; we get a lot of requests DVDs. For some people, it really is the most appropriate way for them to deliver training to their employees. But other people choose DVDs because it’s what they know and because they don’t yet understand the advantages of e-learning courses delivered online through a learning management system (LMS).

Both DVDs and e-learning courses are essentially “video-based” training, but after that there are many significant differences. We’re often asked if it’s better to use eLearning or DVDs in a training program. At times, people who currently use DVDs ask us “why should I invest in eLearning at all?”

There are a number of reasons, really. We’ll try and address a few of them and help you decide if e-learning courses are right for your training program.

Convergence Training is a training solutions provider. We make workforce training courses in both DVD and e-learning formats, and also make learning management systems (LMSs) and custom training solutions. Contact us to learn more.

While you’re here, download our free Guide to Effective Manufacturing Training, free Guide to Effective EHS Training, free Guide to Online MSHA Training, and/or free Guide to Writing Learning Objectives.

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Hooks, Slings, and Wire Ropes: Talking Rigging Safety With Howard Kaplan

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Each year in the United States about 50 people are killed in crane accidents and hundreds more are injured. These incidents are frequently attributed to poorly inspected rigging equipment and improper or unsafe rigging techniques performed by inadequately trained riggers.

During the development of our own Wire Rope Safety training videos, we were fortunate to receive some expert feedback from Howard Kaplan, trainer and owner of Liberty Crane & Rigging Consultants in Phoenix, Arizona. We recently caught up with Howard again for a brief Q&A about wire ropes, rigging safety, and the importance of proper training.

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New OSHA Rules Published or Coming In Next Few Months

The good folks at OSHA have been busy. They’ve got one new rule coming soon and four updated rules coming right after that. Makes me feel lazy in comparison. Let’s see what they’ve been up to.

Need help with your safety training? Check out our Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and our safety training courses.

The New OSHA Rule:

Confined Spaces in Construction. Check our Confined Spaces in Construction post for more information about this one, which OSHA says they’ll publish in August. This standard has been in the works for a looooong time. It will be interesting to see if this really goes into effect and, if it does, how smooth or bumpy the process is for those in the field. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about this!
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Better Training Through Better Visuals: Using “Special Views”

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We have been writing a series of posts over at the OpenSesame blog about how to design visuals within training materials to help your learners learn more effectively. The series has included posts on the following graphic techniques:

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Use Visuals to Add a Spark of Interest to Your Training Materials

It’s an exciting world full of bling-bling, right? There’s a lot of stuff that catches our attention, grabs our focus, and compels us to stay engaged.

Sadly, that’s often not the case with workplace training. Even now, training materials often lean on text-heavy PowerPoint presentations. But you can change that by adding well-designed visuals to your training materials.

Want to know more? Check out the post we just wrote at OpenSesame’s blog. It focuses on different techniques for adding a “spark” of interest to your training–using emotions, using visuals to help tell stories, using visual metaphors, and using unexpected and/or humorous visual elements.

Not only that, the post includes some cool examples from the Convergence Training retail training course libraries. Go check it out now!

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Blended Learning Best Practices for Job Training

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“Blended learning” is one of the hot buzz phrases in learning circles these days. The concept means nothing more than delivering training using multiple instructional methods (instructor-led training, elearning, written materials, field-based training, etc.). Most commonly, it’s used specifically to refer to mixing both instructor-led and online training, although we feel that’s an unnecessarily limited way to look at it.

The idea’s been around a long time, but it’s gained momentum over the past decade as online learning has become more accessible and easier to pair with more traditional instructor-led courses, OJT, and other forms of training.

There are many learning management systems (LMSs) on the market designed specifically for workforce training and most of them offer blended learning support – delivering online training while also allowing you to assign, track, and report on other forms of training, including face-to-face/instructor-led training. And blended learning solutions are becoming even easier to track and report on with the advent of the Experience API (xAPI).

But what are we really talking about when we’re talking about blended learning for job training, and how is it supposed to benefit you? Let’s take a closer look.

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Ladder Safety Information: OSHA Citation Data, Free Online Word Game, FAQs, and More

Ladder Safety Online Safety Training Course Image

We’ve got samples of online ladder safety training materials for you and a lot more in this article, so if you’re looking for help with ladder safety, read on.

Every year, OSHA puts out a list of the ten most commonly cited standard violations. Here’s OSHA’s Top Ten Citations List for 2016. Ladders, 1926.1053, is #7 on the list for 2016, and so we’ve got some online ladder training resources for you in this article–plus more.

Many of the same standards appear on the list again and again (that’s true of the Ladder standard, by the way–it’s on the list every year). And as a result, we’ve pulled together a series of blogs to help you train your workers about each of the ten most cited standards. Below, we’ve got a bunch of materials to help with ladder training.

Let us know if you’ve got some other resources you’d suggest. The comments field awaits.

Before you dig into the information about ladder training below, feel free to check out our short sample video that demonstrates a few highlights of our safety and health courses.


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Convergence Wins ISHN Reader’s Choice Award for Safety Training

ISHN Safety Training Award

Industrial Safety and Health News (ISHN) has announced the winners of their annual Reader’s Choice award, and lo-and-behold, we won our category! The Convergence Crane and Hoist Rigging Safety course is the 2014 ISHN Reader’s Choice Award winner for Best Safety Training Product. We’ve been developing a ton of new training content over the past couple years, in addition to continuing to add features to our learning management system. We’re a busy group and don’t often take the time to pat ourselves on the back, so it’s nice to receive a little recognition from our peers and customers. Thanks to everyone who voted.

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