Blended Learning is The Best Arc Flash TrainingBlake Hirschmann
Blended Learning is The Best Arc Flash Training
Many people refer to workplace electrical safety training as “arc flash training”. However, workplace electrical safety training goes far beyond teaching workers about electrical hazards and should be focused on instructing them on how to work safely.
How to Improve Training Effectiveness
The most effective training includes practical knowledge that can be immediately applied the very next time any worker is exposed to an electrical hazard. This article will discuss the use of a blended learning model using, first, eLearning technology and second, instructor-led sessions. This approach delivers more practical workplace electrical safety training.
The Covid-19 Global Pandemic accelerated the use and acceptance of virtual platforms including online training (eLearning). Even the most recent 2021 edition of both NFPA 70E-2021 and CSA Z462-2021 Standards have clarified that classroom training can include interactive electronic or web-based training components.
The concept of blended learning utilizes the best of both online and traditional training formats. Blended learning incorporates eLearning as a prerequisite to face-to-face instructor-led sessions, either facilitated virtually or in-person. When blending these two forms of training together employers can customize the instructor-led session based on data collected from the eLearning assessment.
Determining the Contents of Training
The training required for workplace electrical safety should be determined by the worker’s risk of exposure to electrical hazards and status of electrical safety competency. Qualified electrical workers require more electrical safety training than non-electrical workers (also referred to as unqualified electrical workers).
Employers should define worker roles and responsibilities as part of an electrical safety program and determine what constitutes adequate training for each worker. When the employer’s electrical safety program is aligned with Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems a “training matrix” should be established to document qualification and training requirements by worker role.
Training for Workers with Lower Exposure
At most workplaces every worker is exposed to electrical hazards, although the risk of this exposure resulting in an injury is often very low. eLearning as a standalone training solution can be effective for non-electrical workers as it requires very little down time, is cost effective and constitutes as effective due diligence for employers. In the majority of cases non-electrical workers require only awareness level training for workplace electrical safety and content related to their specific scope of work in operating electrical equipment.
Training for Qualified Electrical Workers
To provide more practical knowledge for qualified electrical workers we can use a blended learning system. Employers must first understand the required curriculum and identify the generalized content versus practical application knowledge and separate the information in a blended learning system.
Workplace electrical safety training requires a significant amount of generalized knowledge including scope, definitions, terminology, electrical hazard identification, understanding potential harm, risk assessment procedure, applicable codes, regulations, and standards.
Examples of practical knowledge include the application of the electrical safety theory within a workflow process such as
- developing and executing electrical safe work procedures for energized electrical work tasks,
- application of appropriate preventive and protective control measures,
- completing arc flash and shock risk assessment and
- selecting electrical specific PPE, tools, and equipment appropriate for the work task.
eLearning Reduces Cost of Training Overall
The utilization of eLearning as part of a blended learning system for workplace electrical safety training can be used to efficiently deliver the electrical safety theory. Electrical safety theory, or generalized content knowledge, is used as a prerequisite to better prepare the worker for faceto-face time with an instructor. Instructors benefit from a more educated student with fresh subject matter knowledge.
The brick and mortar classroom time can be better spent with an instructor who has more time to focus on the application of the subject matter using physical learning aids, exercises and practical application instruction. Workers with more practical knowledge are better able to apply the preventive and protective control measures in the field from the applicable best practice Standards.
Validating Training Effects
To optimize the success of any electrical safety training, competency validation in the field or on-the-job is recommended. Training can be defined as knowledge transfer and by itself doesn’t validate electrical workers as being “competent”. Employers should follow up on electrical safety training and use an electrical safety competency validation process to ensure the workers are applying the knowledge for increased safety.
Benefits of Blended Learning in Electrical Safety Training
In summary, blended learning systems can be used to increase the effectiveness of workplace electrical safety training.
Employers considering blended learning should research all the available eLearning and instructor-led training options available. There are many benefits to consider including
- lower costs for training,
- more practical application knowledge for qualified electrical workers and
- less time spent in a brick and mortar classroom.
For questions contact the author Jim Pollard at [email protected]
-Jim Pollard is the Owner of Unlimited PPE Inc. and a voting member on several committees related to electrical safety including CSA Z462, ASTM F18, ULC-S801, ULC Live Working and CSC/IEC TC78. Unlimited PPE represents Oberon along with a full suite of compliant electrical safety products & services.