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WHITE PAPER

EssentialSkillz Whitepaper: Selecting an online DSE system for your organisation August 2011


EssentialSkillz Whitepaper – For Training, HR and Health & Safety Professionals Date: August 2011

Title: Selecting an online DSE system for your organisation _______________________________________________________________ Delivering DSE training and risk assessments on-line has become much more commonplace, even standard over the last few years. This is not surprising given the organisational complexities of training huge numbers of staff, dispersed over many sites, followed by the bureaucratic nightmare of the documentation, collation and analysis of paper based risk assessments. Consider that this process must be repeated "regularly" in order to ensure compliance with legislation and you can see why so many organisations utilise technology to help them deliver and manage DSE training and risk assessment.

Since its infancy, the marketplace for these systems has been dominated by several niche providers. The global e-learning providers either did not consider Health & Safety to be an important market or did not wish to grasp the particular complexities of delivering compulsory training content and capturing DSE risk assessment data. As an e-learning application, DSE training and risk assessment has gone on to be one of the most successful e-learning deployments in many organisations.

How different are these systems from one another and what factors should a Health & Safety department consider before choosing one for their own particular organisation? Surely they must all be very similar, given that they fundamentally carry out the same exercise and achieve the same goal - compliance with the DSE regulations governing workstation safety training and risk assessment?

Well, no actually. Proof being, as the marketplace matures, there are plenty of examples of organisations who have severed ties with their original provider, not because the principle of delivering an on-line DSE programme is flawed, but because that particular system did not deliver on its original promise.

Systems are made up of three different components, a web-based training course, an online risk assessment and a reporting system that tracks, records and manages the data end users generate.

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They can vary enormously in terms of IT construction, ease of use, compatibility, price and functionality.

Delivery Options Delivery via the Intranet is possible, but tends be the preserve of organisations with limited internet access for staff. Most organisations are opting for a hosted service. No installation or maintenance is required on site, with the software sitting on a remote server and accessed via the Internet. This eliminates the need for any internal IT support. This raises issues of data security, as information is entrusted to a third party to store and retain. A reputable provider will be able to supply you with details relating to the management and protection of this data and offer a non-disclosure agreement if required.

Licensing models Given that there is no tangible product distributed to, owned and maintained by the customer, there has been a shift away from perpetual pricing models towards annual rental models.

Annual subscription pricing models require far less commitment from the customer and a lower upfront cost. After all, the contract can be terminated at the end of year one should the product and service prove unsatisfactory. The benefit of the model is that the supplier must work hard to keep the customer happy in order to renew their business each year. A legitimate argument can be made that providers who offer this type of contract have absolute confidence in their product, as they are prepared to subject themselves to annual scrutiny from their customers who in turn receive great service given the nature of the terms of this type of agreement.

Course content Training courses can be HTML or Flash based. The drawback to using Flash is that not all browsers support it as standard. This was rectified several years ago with the release of Internet Explorer 5 and utilising Flash based e-learning is often simply a case of the IT department "switching it on". However, there is a further problem with Flash based courses; editing the courses requires someone that understands Flash technology and can be costly and time consuming.

EssentialSkillz courseware is HTML based. This makes the course easy to amend and update on an ongoing basis using the integrated HTML course editor. Adding your own images or amending text is simply a matter of using the editor and saving the changes, providing considerable savings over

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relying on the supplier to make the changes. Consider providers that endeavour to keep their course fresh and relevant to the environments we work in and the technology we interact with. There has been an explosion in the use of smartphones for example, presenting the Health & Safety professional with new challenges and conditions to manage and resolve. Studies indicate that users of e-learning struggle to complete courses longer than 40 minutes in one sitting. Consider a package that covers all the basic information required by the user, in a time frame that won't cause them to lose interest. Many courses contain a "bookmark" feature and can be "consumed" in small bite sized chunks.

These courses will require at the very least, a small amount of customisation. It is difficult for system providers to create a standard package suitable for all organisations. Environments, methodologies and procedures all vary from organisation to organisation and courseware may need to be adapted to reflect this. Some providers will own and charge for this work, whereas others create customisable screens within the course that a customer can amend and update themselves, slotting in links to relevant in-house policies, contact details of key Health & Safety personnel, etc. Some free customisation at the start of the project can be negotiated with most suppliers, but EssentialSkillz is the only provider to offer free ongoing customisation using the editing tool.

Training Course Library While DSE is usually the most pressing area of concern for an office based organisation, it is prudent to review a training provider's entire course library. Firstly from the perspective of creating successful foundations for a good take up rate for the DSE training. Would it not be beneficial to train line managers in their basic H & S responsibilities first, to ensure their buy in and co-operation with the wider and more complicated (due to the risk assessment) online DSE roll out? After all, if line managers do not have a good grasp of issues relating to DSE, how can you expect them to help drive training take up rates in their own teams, release DSE Assessors to carry out follow up desk visits, etc.

Secondly, your initial project may prove successful and as a result your organisation may consider offering more H & S training subjects online. Some suppliers have developed course authoring tools, allowing you to supplement their generic portfolio by creating your own e-learning modules and tests from scratch, or convert existing presentations and videos into trackable elearning content. EssentialSkillz have a range of 22 generic safety e-learning titles, a Rapid Course Authoring Tool and offer a bespoke course development service.

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DSE Risk Assessment The delivery and management of the online DSE risk assessment is the most important part of the process. A substandard or overly complicated risk assessment could potentially wipe out any time and efficiency savings hoped for by implementing one of these systems.

To ensure that an individual possesses the knowledge to complete the risk assessment accurately, any software package should deny access to the online questionnaire until the training course has been completed and passed. The risk assessments are essentially multiple choice, but can contain "free text" responses that invite a user to type a short response. Depending on the answer selected, the software will attribute a low, medium or high risk rating. At the end of the process, a list of concerns or issues is generated that the software has graded and prioritised based on the severity of risk.

Standard question sets are based on the HSE's own recommended DSE risk assessment. It is usually possible to change the questions and associated risk ratings.

Customising Risk Assessments Again, some suppliers may own and charge for this work, "hard coding" changes into their standard assessments. Questions may prove redundant or become obsolete over time and require removal or update. This makes any amendments to the risk assessment post roll out a somewhat complicated affair.

Other risk assessments (including the ErgoWize package from EssentialSkillz) are dynamic, offering the customer the option to amend and update risk assessments themselves, on an ongoing basis, at no extra cost and with no implications for invalidating data captured from a previous question set. This sort of functionality allows the user to skip irrelevant sections of the questionnaire and for the customer to create risk assessments from scratch on any topic of concern to the organisation.

Risk Assessment Functionality A good online risk assessment will contain some form of user action facility, allowing individuals to firstly verify that the risk is genuine and correct any mistaken responses, and secondly potentially resolve (where appropriate) any concerns generated. After all, employees are not passive,

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unable to own and manage a degree of DSE risk at source. This functionality can be extended to demonstrate to users the implications of their risk responses during the online questionnaire. If they are given a sense of the workload and resource implications of their risk assessment answers, they are encouraged to take a more considered and sensible approach to this process, rather than give a set of "scatter gun" yes. no, maybe responses with proper consideration of the reality of their actual situation and the chain reaction of intervention their answers will generate. ErgoWize tends to generate on average half the number of DSE related concerns versus comparable systems.

This functionality can be embedded within the risk assessment itself. Solutions "pop up" during the assessment stage, whereas other systems involve logging in again once the questionnaire has been completed to review and implement any suggested control measures. Choosing a product with good user action functionality and implementing it properly can save huge amounts of administration time as it will responsibly filter and remove a great deal of the risk, without the need for further intervention.

This process will leave only a small number of outstanding DSE concerns and hence reduce workload for DSE Assessors. Any remaining risk is clearly indicated and graded, allowing an organisation to devote its physical assessment resources to where they are actually needed. Systems that do this effectively, in tandem with clever management tool functionality such as the group resolution of risk type for example, have the potential to save huge amounts of time and help allocate your human resources far more efficiently.

Management System At the heart of any roll out is the reporting tool that records and manages the training and risk assessment data that users generate. Learning Management System (LMS) is an e-learning term that describes a piece of software that tracks more conventional online courses (and even classroom courses in some instances) in areas such as management and IT training for example. In the safety sector similar systems have been developed and enhanced with the complexities of capturing DSE risk assessment data in mind.

Data Management and Compatibility Some will work only with training content from the supplier, others like ErgoWize are compatible with third party content and can be integrated with traditional LMS (for the purposes of

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recording all training records in one central repository and keeping administration to a minimum). Two main standards govern compatibility within the e-learning industry - Scorm and AICC.

Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a collection of standards and specifications for web-based e-learning. It defines communications between client side content and a host system called the run-time environment (commonly a function of a learning management system).

SCORM also defines how content may be packaged into a transferable ZIP file. SCORM is a specification of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, which comes out of the Office of the United States Secretary of Defence.

The Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) is an international association of technology-based training professionals. The AICC develops guidelines for aviation industry in the development, delivery, and evaluation of CBT, WBT, and related training technologies.

AICC specifications are usually designed to be general purpose (not necessarily Aviation Specific) so that learning technology vendors can spread their costs across multiple markets and thus provide products (needed by the Aviation Industry) at a lower cost. This strategy has resulted in AICC specifications having broad acceptance and relevance to non-aviation and aviation users alike.

True Scorm integration with an organisation's main LMS is extremely advantageous. If an online DSE programme is to run in isolation, you are introducing a new system that will require user population and ongoing management and data imports, duplicating work and process undertaken maintaining the existing LMS. By integrating the two systems, only one set of employee data requires management, only one employee login is required, etc.

Traditionally the barrier to this has been seamlessly integrating the DSE risk assessment. It is relatively easy to integrate DSE training content. The reason for this, is that standard LMS are built to deliver and track training courses and do not have the specialist functionality to manage risk assessment data. Although a certain amount of integration work is required, it is possible to solve this problem and create a seamless link between the specialist Health & Safety reporting tool containing the risk management functionality and the primary LMS.

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The suitability of this element of the software will often be the key aspect of any purchase. The time, efficiency and cost savings occur due to the streamlining of DSE administration through the elimination of the paper trail, prioritisation of risk etc that the back end reporting tool brings. Costs, functionality and ease of use can vary enormously. Consider the size of your office based workforce, the culture of your business and the physical resources available to you when considering the most appropriate management system for your organisation.

Over time, these systems have evolved and become more sophisticated. One of the first developments, for example, was the addition of an automated email feature to improve the introductory and reminder process and drive up completion rates. Some providers extended this email alert facility to administrators, prompting them to action outstanding tasks related to the resolution of concerns raised by the risk assessment. The latest versions may utilise Web 2.0 technology that allows you to sort and recall information without waiting for pages to reload. Moving to this type of system for DSE involves a cultural and technological shift, requiring careful management in order to make the project a success. Experienced system providers can supply advice and resource to make the transition as easy as possible. Guidance on DSE Assessor to staff ratios, internal marketing and roll out management are all crucial.

The future Online DSE programmes raise coverage to an unprecedented level. 90% plus completion rates are standard and many organisations have not had to deal with the operational issues of managing DSE risk assessments on this scale before. The last few years have seen a move towards an outsource service, with software providers offering a more holistic approach. This can vary from outsourcing the entire maintenance and administration of the system to even the outsourcing of the risk resolutions and follow ups.

A good online system has the potential to transform and enhance the way you deliver and manage DSE training and risk assessment, but consider the factors above and make sure you choose the most appropriate product for your business or organisation.

Functionality comparison chart Outlined next are two product comparison charts. The first one shows the details of the main DSE software systems on the market and a basic guide to their features and functionality, the second compares safety e-learning providers across their entire product range.

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DSE Comparison Chart EssentialSkillz

Cardinus

Complywise

DSEasy

Posturite

E-OfficeSafety

Online DSE training course

Online DSE risk assessment

Dynamic DSE risk assessment

×

×

×

×

×

DSE tracking & reporting tool

Automated email introductions and reminders

Self Resolution of DSE risk

×

×

×

×

Instant qualification of DSE risk

×

×

×

×

×

Multi tier reporting

×

×

×

×

×

Full management and prioritisation of risk and control measures Group resolution of risk

×

×

×

×

×

Risk trend analysis and reporting

Seamless integration of risk assessments with primary LMS

×

×

×

×

×

EssentialSkillz

Cardinus

Complywise

Posturite

Safety Media

Library of 20+ safety e-learning titles

x

x

×

EOfficeSafety x

Integrated course authoring tool

×

x

×

×

Bespoke course development

Scorm LMS

×

×

×

×

Free ongoing customisation using integrated authoring tool

×

×

×

×

×

HTML based training content

×

Range of 5+ generic self risk assessments

×

Safety E-Learning Comparison Chart

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Risk assessment authoring facility

×

×

×

×

×

Free course upgrades

ErgoWize - DSE training and risk assessment is the most advanced DSE compliance software available. Users complete the training first before moving onto the risk assessment which has been designed to help users solve the majority of their issues themself. This is achieved using tailored advice that loads during the risk assessment.

Any issues that cannot be resolved at source by the user are flagged up to DSE Assessors/line managers/ Health & Safety - whoever is responsible for resolving DSE risk via O-LAS, our powerful Compliance Management System. Risk assessment issues are prioritised so users who need the most urgent attention, are seen faster and a full audit trail can be recorded for the resolution of each issue.

For a complete overview of the benefits and advantages of ErgoWize please visit our dedicated website at www.ErgoWize.com.

About EssentialSkillz EssentialSkillz is a global supplier of Safety E-Learning and Risk Assessment Training Courses. Our Computer Health and Safety Software Solutions are designed to help organisations achieve compliance with DSE regulations.

Workplace Ergonomics is of paramount importance to our clients and our extensive range of courses caters for all aspects associated with Employee Risk Assessment.

For Workstation Assessment e-learning including DSE training and DSE risk assessment software, visit our website www.essentialskillz.com or subscribe to our blog.

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Whitepaper - Selecting Online DSE Systems – EssentialSkillz  

Whitepaper - Selecting Online DSE Systems - from EssentialSkillz - leading supplier of world-class online Health & Safety training and risk...

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