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Computer Based Training Vs Face To Face Training

Mar 1, 2008
Over the last ten years, computers have come to play an integral part in all businesses - from companies of ten employees to huge multi-national conglomerates. As computer usage increases, so too has the number of MSD's (musculoskeletal disorders) that effect PC users. Research in 2001/2 by the HSE estimated that 12.3 million working days had been lost due to work related MSDs, a figure that has increased proportionally with the growth of usage over the last five years.

It has become more important than ever for companies and insurers to implement DSE training on correct DSE usage, not only to ensure that money isn't lost to sick days, but also to protect themselves from costly compensation claims arising from unchecked MSD's.

High-profile cases over the last ten years have resulted in corporate pay-outs of between 35,000 pounds and 90,000. pounds For a claimant to succeed in their case, it is only necessary to show negligence on the balance of probability, rather than beyond reasonable doubt. Employers therefore have a responsibility to ensure that they can demonstrate DSE training and DSE risk assessment records for each employee.

In accordance with the Health & Safety Executive's guidelines, training should comprise of two elements: firstly, ensuring that the employee knows how to use DSE equipment correctly; secondly, a DSE risk assessment of equipment used by the employee.

Adequate knowledge of DSE usage should include information on desk height, chair adjustability, equipment layouts which reduce the risk of MSDs, and frequent breaks from DSE usage. As this DSE training is personal for each employee at a certain workplace, it is necessary to carry out assessments whenever a user is relocated or there is a major change to: an employee's software, equipment or furniture.

Face-to-face training provides employers with a number of advantages. Primarily, as the DSE risk assessment is completed in front of the employee it is possible to directly discuss and resolve any concerns highlighted through the training. Furthermore, some employers find that it is easier to ensure that an employee completes the DSE training and risk assessment if an appointment is scheduled with a competent assessor, rather than asking employees to find their own time whilst working.

This method of training is suitable for small companies of up to 100 employees; however, due to the law this approach can become unfeasible for larger companies due to time, financial costs, proof of training, and storage and auditing of employees training and personal risk assessment.

Computer-based DSE training and DSE risk assessment may seem like a paradox, but for the majority of organisations it provides a cost and time efficient way to manage their employee's training. Whilst a health & safety expert can be outsourced from between 250 pounds to 500 pounds per day or employed in-house from around 20 pounds-35,000 per year, computer-based e-learning packages can be provided from upwards of 5,000 pounds for 500 employees.

Clearly substantial savings cannot be taken entirely at face value, employees will have to take a certain amount of time out from their work to complete the necessary training and an administrator is needed to oversee the concerns recorded and resolve any issues which are flagged.

However, the time needed to manage an electronic system is a fraction of that needed to oversee a paper-based system. An easy-to-use management system is obviously key to taking full advantage of an e-learning package. Such systems should provide a clear audit trail so that the administrator can see at a glance who has, and has not, completed the required training. It should also flag up concerns so that the administrator need only check assessments, which raise issues that need to be resolved.

In short, Computer Based DSE Training makes H&S work more productive, automatically schedules training and risk assessments, reduces time spent delivering training and employees doing training, ensures employees are tested on all training courses.

On balance it would appear that there are clear advantages to moving towards a software solution to manage DSE training and DSE Risk Assessment. However, that is not to say that face-to-face training should be eliminated completely.

It will always remains necessary for some specialist DSE risk assessments to be completed face-to-face for those employees with existing health problems, disabilities or those working in unusual environments. However, for the majority of companies employing over 100 staff, e-learning packages with easy-to-use management systems present a clear advantage from the perspective of management, compliance and administration.
About the Author
Health and safety expert Catherine Harvey looks at the use of DSE training in the workplace. To find out more please visit http://www.complywise.co.uk/
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