This note is in regards to the appropriateness of computer-based interactive training programs designed to satisfy our commitment to provide healthy & environmentally safe workplace. In due process, we will also satisfy the occupational safety & health act (OSHA) training requirements.

Interactive computer-based training is a very valuable tool in the context of an overall health & safety training program. Its merits include self-paced learning; higher comprehension of subject matter; scheduling convenience; electronic records retention. However, use of computer-based training by itself would not be sufficient to meet our highest expectation of a safe workplace or some of OSHA's training requirements. The  shortcomings of computer-based training are similar to handing out videos or “packaged” manuals, which often lack instant response capability or site-specific elements tailored to workers' assigned duties. It is critical that our trainees have an opportunity to ask questions where material is unfamiliar to them. In a computer-based program, we will address this by requiring employees to first notify their immediate supervisors of their schedule to train. Depending on the course, the supervisor may become the trainer or through the environmental health & safety (EHS) office,  request for other resources on campus. A telephone “hotline” must be established between the trainee and the trainer, before training starts, so that trainees can have access to a knowledgeable person during their training.

Equally important is the use of hands-on training and exercises to provide trainees with an opportunity to become familiar with equipment, personal protective equipment, and safe practices specific to their duties, but in a non-hazardous setting. It is unlikely that sole reliance on a computer-based training program will achieve all of these objectives. We will address this by requiring departments or immediate supervisors to provide employees with, and document site-specific safety information, initially and annually or whenever new equipment or change in work procedure occurs. This can best be accomplished by developing department procedural checklist. Access to an example of a checklist, available at this EHS website is provided below.

We feel that this training arrangement will provide adequate and consistent information, in cost effective and convenient learning environment. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me at (CSB) 363 5277 or at (SJU) 363 3267.

Ganard A. Orionzi CHMM,
Director, Environmental Health & Safety
College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University.