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When Training Lift Equipment Operators, Getting it Right is More Important than Checking the “Compliance” Box


September 29, 2014 - A monumental shift is taking place in construction and general industry regarding training operators in the safe use of lifting equipment. While OSHA acknowledges that training is an essential part of every employer’s safety and health program, the degree to which that is currently required depends on whether you are talking about cranes, telehandlers, or aerial work platforms.

 

Meanwhile, the proliferation of online training programs in the construction industry has made it easy for employers to satisfy their need for compliance training, without considering whether that training also effectively reduces their risk, improves productivity, and makes their workforce safer.

 

Training that does both—meets regulatory requirements and translates into real benefits, such as reduced Experience Modification Rates—should be the goal for any employer of lifting equipment operators. Jim Dorris, vice president health and safety, environment and sustainability for United Rentals, wants to meet this challenge by offering exceptional training content, delivery and tracking for the access industry. Armed with United Rentals’ vison of “Safety First” Jim and United Rentals have worked with industry partners to create United Academy. Dorris’ vision is to offer a blended learning model of self-paced online training matched with hands-on experience.

 

Safety experts agree that the best training combines elements of classroom, online, and hands-on training. It must cover general topics, practical instruction, assessment of knowledge, and familiarization. “There is a difference between familiarization and training, and that’s one of the most misunderstood concepts in our industry,” says Scott Owyen, Global Training Manager for Genie Industries. Classroom or online instruction followed by hands-on demonstration and practice should take 5-9 hours, he says. Familiarization simply reviews the operational manual, controls and decals specific to the make and model not previously operated by a qualified operator.

 

Blended learning, which combines self-guided online instruction training with hands-on training, is viewed as more effective according to a 2010 U.S. Department of Education study called “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning. According to the report: “Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.”

 

Research for the study encompassed K-12 education, career technology, medical and higher education, as well as corporate and military training.

 

United Rentals with a new curriculum made available through United Academy offers high-quality training that does more than just check the box for employer compliance.  The company is taking its classroom and online training to a new level with content that employs cutting edge delivery methods such as interactive games and 3D simulated environments or 3D simulated workplace scenarios.


The U.S. Department of Education’s study reports that “online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection.”


Award winning gaming instruction designed by Serious Labs Inc., located in Edmonton, Alberta, for United Academy’s aerial work platforms telehandler and forklift operator training courses gives operators online tools to assess risks, make choices, and see the consequences in real-world scenarios. 

 

A key benefit of United Academy’s blended learning course for boom lift, scissor lift, counterbalance forklifts and telehandler operators is the ability to compress the time it takes to complete the training while maximizing the competency and comprehension of the operator. With this program, employers can check the compliance box and also gain a safer workforce. Here’s how:

  • High quality game-based training addresses two of the most common causes of accidents: failure to assess hazards in the work area and inadequate pre-use inspection. Up to 60% of the accidents that occur can be attributed to these risk areas.

  • Using the latest gaming graphics and interactive technology, operators develop job site problem solving skills in a realistic environment.

  • Multi-sensory experiences allow operators to learn by watching, doing, and listening, which suits different learning styles. This type of training also appeals to the Millennial Generation, which is essential for any employer seeking to attract and retain workers for the future.

  • Course content is developed by instructional designers and United Rentals Master Safety Trainers and is endorsed by Ives Training Group, a specialist in forklift and aerial work platform training for more than 30 years.

  • Online program delivery ensures consistent and standard delivery of topics.
  • Just-in-Time delivery of training and convenient hands-on instruction at 900+ United Rentals locations cuts training time by 45% and frees up HSE officers, which accounts for as much as 20% of their time.

  • With online training, employees can complete general material on their own time and at their own pace, which means less productivity downtime for employers and convenience for employees.

  • Assessment process is designed to verify the operator’s competency. Course results and proof of completion certificates are stored in a database, allowing employers or operators easy access to their records.

 

While OSHA prescribes specific expectations for forklift operator training, the industry has lacked any cohesive guidance when it comes to training operator of aerial work platforms. But that may be changing in the near future. According to Tony Groat, North American Manager of the International Powered Access Federation and committee member for several ASME and CSA standards groups, both the U.S. and Canada are making moves to place greater emphasis on training in respective AWP standards.


“ASME A92 and CSA B354 standards are currently product specific. There is now an effort to move to subject specific standards focusing on design, safe use, and training for all AWP products,” he says.


That’s good news for employers who know that it’s more important to get training right, and United Academy is ready to help.

 

 

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