When is “online training” not training in the eyes of regulators and judges?
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When is “online training” not training in the eyes of regulators and judges?

When is “online training” not training in the eyes of regulators and judges?

Workforce training used to be conducted in a classroom environment, with trainers providing face-to-face instruction to a room full of personnel. Times have changed, and today most organizations offer online training as a viable alternative to traditional, instructor-led training. 

While online training is great for cost savings, and in the age of COVID-19 often the only viable option, it also has its drawbacks if not implemented properly. An online course that does not identify the participant does not meet the minimum standard, and employers need to confirm that the individual taking the training is the intended recipient, did not just click “play” and walk away, or have others complete the training for them.

This is especially important in high-risk industries like oil and gas, where safety training can mean the difference between life and death or severe injury. 

Landmark court cases such as R. v. Rose’s Well Services Ltd., where an employee admitted to taking training for other employees, have shown that employers need to do more than just provide online training. They must also prove who completed and/or participated in it. 

During regulatory investigation of workplace incidents like the case above, one of the key factors in determining fault is whether an employer exercised due diligence in preventing the incident. That includes whether they provided appropriate training of personnel — and if they can prove it. 

The legal counsel of a multinational energy company (company name removed for privacy reasons) said this: 

"Making our safety orientation/training available on the web and requesting that [personnel] take the training without the ability to provide documented evidence that personnel had actually completed the required safety orientation/training would, in my opinion, not be reviewed positively in an analysis of whether [a company] had satisfied its due diligence requirements in the event of an incident. Due diligence is [a company]'s only defense against a strict liability offense..."

This may come as a shock to employers that are spending a significant amount of money on online courses, expecting that their efforts demonstrate both regulatory compliance and their due diligence.

Some employers like Spectra Energy have simply chosen not to utilize online training for high-risk training content due to “security issues” relating to confirming student attendance. However, organizations like the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of Alberta have advised that technology exists that mitigates the issues facing compromised training by verifying both the identity and participation of trainees.

Integrity Advocate is that technology. Working closely with organizations in construction, mining, oil and gas refining, and more, we have assisted hundreds of thousands of personnel take their training online in a manner that ensures both regulatory acceptance and maintains its due diligence value in the legal system. 

Organizations today are faced with an important choice. Do they implement online training for their workforce without added technology to help manage risk? Or do they implement online training with technology that can verify both the identity and participation of trainees? 

With Integrity Advocate, the choice is easy. Get in touch today