Is DIY Safety Training Right for Your Organization?

Is DIY Safety Training Right for Your Organization?

Barrett Pryce

Barrett Pryce

Marketing Manager

Barrett Pryce is the Marketing Manager with Vivid Learning Systems, an online safety training provider making life a little easier for safety professionals.

You’re ready to take safety training to the next level—that’s a good thing.

Because if you think you need safety training, you’re probably right. In fact, most organizations do, with few exceptions. Not only is the provision of occupational safety training federal law, there are many reasons to develop a strong training regimen, such as...

"A good safety and health program can save $4 to $6 dollars for every $1 dollar invested." - US Department of Labor

Perhaps you’re on a budget and need to survey the marketplace to find the most cost-effective solution.

Or, you’re an educated safety professional and want to build custom training that’s highly relevant to the unique work environments you manage.

Or, you’re an executive-type that thinks your team can develop great safety training in-house and save a few dollars.

No matter the situation you find yourself in, if you’re reading this now, there’s a reason for that, and we can help you make the most informed decision.

Whether your organization can or cannot pull this off, you should at least know what you are getting into.

Factors Influencing Development

  • Medium (Or Mode of Instruction)

The medium for delivering your new training experience dictates the effort and expense involved with development. For example, creating a series of PowerPoint presentations is relatively simple, provided you have the software and the content, while developing an eLearning experience, or web-based training module, is considerably more complex and resource intensive.

  • Personnel

If you’re in a dedicated safety role, or employ a team safety professionals, you know that sustaining a vibrant training program is a labor intensive proposition. In relation to organizational safety knowledge, it is natural for designated safety leaders to develop new programs and update existing training assets for currency with standards and best practices. However, far fewer have the time for such efforts, particularly in smaller organizations where safety staff is limited to one or two individuals. The process of developing safety training in a new medium requires a substantial time commitment from dedicated, knowledgeable personnel. It is important to first consider whether or not such expertise exists in the organization, and second, whether or not that personnel has the time to devote to the effort, with respect for day-to-day safety and training responsibilities.

  • Resources

To build or develop modern training assets, you must have the tools or the budget to acquire the tools. At a minimum, you need a computer; beyond that, you’ll need software. Videos, PowerPoints, and eLearning applications all require a modern computer, some knowledge of how to work with one and those related programs, like editing software for video production (not to mention camera and lighting equipment), a license to Shutterstock for image population, or eLearning authoring tools, for example. 

Conversion of Existing Safety Assets

Say your organization has invested in safety by creating specific resources relevant to your work environments—PowerPoint presentations, written policies & procedures, perhaps even old DVDs.

Logically, this is where most organization start when looking to modernize the training experience.

The reason is twofold: (1) resource-conscious organizations are mindful of costs associated with developing entirely new training materials and (2) building upon legacy safety assets promotes standardization and continuity of culture. 

Building web or computer-based safety training from existing materials is seen as providing a head start on development because it covers the status quo training regimen. The process of selecting assets for conversion is fairly simple for most organizations; start with the most popular resources and address the largest areas of immediate need.

To then turn those assets into online training, many organizations are turning to…

E-Learning Authoring Software

Today, the market for computer-based training development software is highly competitive, and the best tools range from $1500 to $0 is cost. Selecting the most appropriate tools for your organization depends on either your proficiency or willingness to learn new software, as well as goals and desired functionality. As with cost, such tools scale widely in degree of complexity, from the basic up to HTML 5.

Regardless of which tool you select, you’ll still have to use it skillfully to achieve the desired results.

Here are few of the most popular options available today:

Known for its versatility, Articulate’s software is the authoring tool of choice for most instructional designers. Articulate is suitable for flash and HTML 5 development, allows for video uploads, screen capture activity, and includes template options for interactivity. Relatively intuitive to use, the interface is similar to the Microsoft Office suite, for those familiar.

Leap ahead with an authoring platform that does the heavy lifting of creating virtually any kind of responsive eLearning content. From application simulations to HD product demos, assessment modules and more, do it all with just one tool. Get unmatched value with 75,000+ free eLearning assets. Use Adobe Captivate Draft, and move seamlessly from storyboarding to storytelling. Easily deploy and manage courses with single-click publishing to Adobe Captivate Prime LMS.

Elucidat is one of the most popular HTML5 eLearning Authoring Tools. It has been used for the design of eLearning courses for numerous industries such as sales, customer service, compliance, soft skills, leadership and scenario training. Elucidat also ensures that your content can be accessed from all devices, portable or not.

Elucidat has analytics features that enable eLearning course designers to see how their online learners progress with their online training.

New Training Videos (MP4)

So you want to make your own training videos?

You’ll need to rent equipment, hire experienced professionals, write scripts, and hire actors, potentially. Then, there’s editing, post-production, and time to budget for subject matter expert review, which typically requires research. Then, you’ll have rounds of edits and feedback gathering before release of a finished product.

For example, production for Vivid’s Supervisor Safety Tip series costs about $2,500 per 5 minute episode. 

That figure for a 12 video installment—parts and labor—includes:

  • Travel, per diem, vehicle rental and accommodations for 3 people
  • Equipment: Canon C300; studio lighting; teleprompter; editing software; audio devices
  • Shipping of equipment
  • 128 hours of production and post-production time for 3 full-time employees

Another often overlooked consideration? You need the right location or permission to film at the right location; noise-free, with minimal interruption to working environments, decent lighting, etc.

The importance of working with professional videographers cannot be overstated—they are worth the expense, and the expertise will save any video project time and money over the course of production.

It should also be noted that videos, a common resource for occupational training, are nevertheless passive training experiences, lacking interactivity and engagement as standalone tools.

Expertise. You’re Gonna Need Some.

How confident are you that you have the knowledge to build effective training—on any topic—that will connect with your workforce?

There are thousands of workforce training professionals employed independently as consultants or in-house by organizations across the country. Training the workforce is a full-time responsibility for many employees and a serious priority for forward-thinking organizations. Quality training experiences are not an accident, but the product of expertise

There’s also the professional discipline of instructional design…

“Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs.”

This, too, is a professional role closely related to training and curriculum development, staffed by individuals in many organizations where workforce development is a high priority. Sound instructional design is what makes safety training effective. These highly sought after individuals are almost invariably college educated, up to the Master’s degree level.

Another important consideration is that while safety professionals often have training experience, they typically lack instructional design expertise; in fact, many are unfamiliar with the discipline. 

Our subject matter experts field questions from Environmental Health & Safety professionals on a regular basis, ranging from technical to practical, on a steady, ongoing basis. That’s because even for many experienced safety people, navigating the shifting regulatory maze of occupational health and safety is a daunting task, requiring time-intensive research. This is to say that safety people are often busy enough managing a safety program that time to work on supporting skills like training presentation and effective curriculum development is in short supply, if at all possible.

The safety professionals we work with typically wear several hats for their organization. Yet building in-house can work great, if you have the right team in place. If you have instructional designers who know how to develop training, safety subject matter experts who can assist, and training expertise, you may be able to pull it off. This will depend on their workload and other priorities, and whether they can devote the time needed to develop training. And have you thought about how you’ll manage training updates to ensure compliance with changing laws?

If you know what you need and have experience developing training, and time to oversee the development, you could hire an individual to develop the training for you. However, if you need guidance on how to develop training, or just don’t have the time to direct the work—hire a full-service training provider. It’s much less painful.

Cost of Custom Training Development

First, you’ll want to review the learning objectives and topics covered to see if the content is relevant and that it fulfills your regulatory and/or compliance requirements. You’ll also want to check that the content is interactive and engaging so your employees will pay attention and learn. Depending on your needs, you’ll want to know what testing options are available. A final consideration is whether it meets your cultural, organizational, and generational objectives, to fit all learning styles and broadly connect with your workforce.

And this all depends on whether it is classroom, instructor-led training, or if it’s computer-based online training, and it depends upon how much training you need to develop. For example, a half day of classroom training can take between one hundred and two hundred hours to develop, depending on what you have to start with. A common ratio for online training development is about 300 hours to create one hour of training. It can take more time or less time depending on what you are building, but that’s a good estimate. 

If there are already policy manuals, safety guidelines or other things you can start with, it will take less time than if you are starting from scratch. But if there isn’t much to start with, the subject matter expert (SME) will need to share what they know either verbally or in writing, and that can take more time. Plan for 10-20% of overall project hours attributed to SME topic discovery; in-house, the SME is your safety professional or EHS team. 

As an example, Vivid did one project with the Army Corp of Engineers where they spent $200K to develop custom online safety training. 

For comparison, 20-minute online courses from Vivid’s compliance package average $25K to develop, with full interactivity, testing, storytelling, knowledge checks, professional narration, etc.

For access to those 85+ courses, which are built to satisfy compliance federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) training requirements, customers pay $5 per employee, per month, with a content compliance guarantee. 

Oh! There’s a Safety Training System (LMS) included in that price, for tracking all training activity and centralizing important training records.

Learning Management System (LMS). Need one?

To deliver online training content, along with tracking training activity and centralizing training records, you need what the eLearning industry calls a Learning Management System (LMS). This is a training automation and administration platform, necessary both for delivery courses to employees—scheduling, assignment of training topics, measuring proficiency—and for capturing training activities that demonstrate compliance.

To deliver a PowerPoint presentation to a room full of employees, or show an old training video, you don’t need a Learning Management System, particularly if you are manually tracking training activities with a paper sign-in system, or with MS Excel, as is common.

The market for Learning Management Systems is extremely competitive, and there are dozens and dozens of options at various price points available now. Most large organizations are currently using such cloud software.