7 Features You Should Implement in a Custom Workplace Safety Training System

by Alex Cherednichenko, Head of EdTech at DataArt

In many countries, employers are legally (and morally, too) bound to educate employees about all workplace-related health and safety risks and provide means to mitigate them. Workplace safety training, which is often a part of employee onboarding, is the most effective way to fulfill this obligation and reduce potential risks of workplace accidents and injuries. After such training, staff work in a safer and more productive way. 

Labor organization and regulatory agencies (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) in Europe) set and enforce specific standards for workplace safety in different industries and institutions. Yet, they give employers a free hand when choosing a platform for conducting the corresponding training (on-site, offline, online, on an individual or group basis) and checking how the employees learned the material. 

In the age of the “gig economy,” when many employees work remotely, workplace safety training moves to online. With this change comes a variety of digital platforms to host and manage online courses. A good system for online workplace safety training combines functionality of a learning management system (LMS) with records and information management and strong access control. Some employers choose off-the-shelf platforms, some – develop custom ones from the ground up, or customize available systems per specific needs. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the features and functionality of a digital workplace safety training system and discuss how they could be implemented on top of the Open edX platform. This open-source platform provides an excellent framework for custom learning solutions.  We’ll show how highly specific features of a workplace safety training system can be added with custom development.

Select Functionality of a Digital Training Platform 

In this post, we’d like to list a few important features one should consider when customizing an existing or designing a custom solution for online workplace safety training.  

Integration with Existing Corporate Ecosystem

The platform for online workplace safety training may be integrated with other digital corporate systems – for instance, using a single sign-on. Ideally, corporate systems should maintain invariants (automatic self-supporting state of correctness): “only the person who passed the corresponding safety course may access this data.” 

At DataArt, the corporate project and time tracking system is integrated with an EDU platform for compliance training. With this bond, only the staff who passed regular IP protection and social engineering courses are allowed to do work for clients. This provides a strong invariant: unless the person has all valid training outcomes, they will not be allowed to work with client’s code and data; so, no client receives custom code written by a non-compliant employee. 

Another example: one of our clients uses a system of automated access control for each door in their building, which is connected to a corporate safety training system. Employees who have not completed a safety training required for a certain level of access simply can not get past some of these doors to enter a room. 

LMS Features & Functionality

The LMS part of the solution should have a user-friendly interface to manage multiple courses for different user groups. The content of certain courses requires regular updates because safety protocols and equipment change. At the same time, employees should periodically pass some courses over again, so that their alertness and safety skills do not go down. Thus, the platform functionality should support cyclicity of courses and have scheduling and automatic alerting options – to inform the staff when their certificate of attendance expires.  

At all times, employees who want to refresh their memory on some course specifics should have easy and continuous access to the content. Besides, every course version should be persistent, meaning its content could not be changed after employees passed it, and immutable, so the employer always knew exactly which course version was taken by each employee. Nice-to-have LMS features are quick translation and localization of the training modules – in case company employees speak different languages.

The LMS should allow maintaining the integrity of learning results. Workplace safety training is no joke, and employers must by all means avoid “the biggest lie ever” – the case with end-user license agreements, which are hardly ever read before a user clicks “I have read, understood, and agree with the terms.” Employees should have no chance to blindly tick “Yes, I have passed the course” without proving they did. For this, a desired functionality in the LMS is to add a “check yourself” quiz at the end of the course. Only employees who score 90% or more get the certificate of attendance.   

At the end of the day, it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that the training really happens and the employee obtains necessary competences. Should an unfortunate case happen, the regulator would value the employer’s efforts not just towards compliance but real care about the employees. 

Remote Identity Verification and Access Control

One of the disadvantages of online safety training is that it is not always possible to identify the person on the other side of the monitor. This is every employer’s responsibility to ensure that the person who passes the course is the one employed. The digital training platform should have options for remote identity verification and access control. For remote ID verification, the platform may support proctoring options, selfies or streaming-video processing, or face authentication via camera as well as electronic signature. Access control may be managed with multi-factor authentication methods.

There is a short-cut for organizations that have not yet undergone a complete digital transformation and maintain a physical access control system (using keycards or security desks). Their employees may pass online workplace safety training at the comfort of their homes, then make an ID check and receive the certificate of attendance when they arrive at the workplace.  

Customizing Open edX Platform for Workplace Safety Training

If you choose to build a digital workplace safety training on top of Open edX platform, mind a few substantials modifications you would need to implement. 

Standard Open edX platform functionality does not support immutable versions of the same course, but they can be emulated with a new course run created each time the course content undergoes modifications. At the same time, live courses should be restricted from modifications 

if one or multiple employees are currently passing them. Scheduling and automatic alerting options for repetitive courses should be also added as a custom functionality for Open edX platform. 

Integration of Open edX platform with the existing corporate ecosystem should also be done with custom code. As you plan it, ensure the information about a safety course attendance appears in your employees’ profiles for reporting and compliance purposes.  

On a positive note, with out-of-the-box Open edX functionality, quizzes and check-yourself assignments can be added at the end of the course, which helps to maintain the integrity of the learning outcomes. 

Conclusion

Beyond the obvious reasons – regulation and moral responsibility – there are other pro arguments for investing in workplace safety training. A well-planned series of courses will reduce the number of accidents and injuries, property damage, and medical leaves. It will also lower legal liability risks for the employer and promote a safer company-wide environment. 

Though it is not easy to find an efficient, scalable, and flexible system for workplace safety training, we hope you would consider the features and functionality discussed in this post. You can rely on the team of DataArt experts in case you consider customizing an existing platform or building a custom one for your workplace safety training. Contact us at edtech@dataart.com.

Start the discussion at discuss.openedx.org