Verifying Worker Training Onsite to Boost Safety

October 2017, Vol. 244, No. 10

By David Finkelstein

Pipeline and energy companies are safety-conscious for good reason. Fewer accidents mean fewer delays, higher worker morale, lower insurance costs and avoidance of OSHA fines.

Ensuring that workers do only jobs they’re trained for is one of the most critical steps in a safety program. An untrained worker who botches a job may injure himself and others, damage expensive equipment, cause fires and release hazardous materials. But in the rush to get things done, proper vetting can get overlooked.

How can supervisors in the field know for sure about whether a particular worker is qualified to do a particular task or operate a certain piece of machinery?  Many workers, eager to show their stuff, will reply, sure, I can do that, but may not have the required training.

How can you verify training? Paper files don’t cut it, since they aren’t accessible in the field and get outdated fast.  The worker who claims he was trained for a certain task may or may not be correct, but a paper file that’s spent six months in a file cabinet somewhere isn’t up-to-date or accessible.

Storing training credentials on a central computer system is a step up, but onsite bosses don’t have access to such a database.

Mobile Tech Provides Answer

A smart, comprehensive and effective system starts with the fact that, at most sites, every worker has an ID card.  If you can use their ID card to verify the worker’s training, you have a versatile solution.

A combination of simple and sophisticated technology can accomplish that.  The fairly simple part is imprinting a quick response (QR) code on the cards.  A QR code is that black-and-white square that appears in magazine ads and is used for ticketing with smartphones. A unique QR code can be imprinted on each employee’s photo ID card.

The next step is to create a compatible database of employee training records and store the data in the cloud.  The data usually exists already; the key is to put the data into a usable form that can be accessed anywhere.

With all of the pieces in place, the supervisor simply scans the ID card with a smartphone or tablet to read the QR code.  Within seconds, the employee’s current training records are displayed on the screen, securely and reliably.  Many construction firms now use this system.

The solution can be enhanced with an app that lets authorized trainers automatically record attendees who have completed courses. The trainer just scans the QR code on the badge of each employee to instantly update their training records.

With today’s technology, there’s no reason not to check worker training consistently.

Author: David Finkelstein is president of Credential Verification Service (www.credentialverificationservice.com).