For 127 years, Chicago-based Kroeschell Inc. has been a leader in mechanical and electrical engineering. The company constructs,installs and services industrial heating and air-conditioning systems for customers ranging from Caterpillar and the Archdiocese of Chicago to Abbott Labs and the U.S. Air Force.
Managing the risk to its employees requires Kroeschell to maintain an extensive safety program. To do this, the company historically relied on logistics-heavy, classroom-style training programs that pulled employees away from projects.
Kroeschell's answer? Online instruction. Now company employees complete many of its safety training programs between projects, when they have the time. The 24/7 availability of the instruction had made it substantially more convenient for employees. And there is no longer the need to manage the safety training program using spreadsheets, a time-consuming and manual process.
Meeting the safety requirements of customers and regulatory agencies has always been the number one priority of Kroeschell. Safety on the job is highly valued at all levels of the organization and safety training is an integral part of the company's corporate culture.
"We're determined to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our employees," says David Stavropoulos, corporate risk manager.
As part of its safety program, Kroeschell conducted extensive classroom training six times a year in addition to weekly safety updates. This comprehensive program was successful for many years, but scheduling these sessions was often a difficult endeavor.
"On any given day, we could have over 100 different jobs underway involving hundreds of personnel," explains Stavropoulos. "So trying to find times for employees to participate was problematic."
While some training was carried out during normal working hours, longer courses, such as OSHA 10-hour and OSHA 30-hour classes, were conducted over weekends.
"Not many of our employees were happy about that," notes Stavropoulos. In addition, to keep on top of training requirements, Kroeschell had to schedule sessions all year around, even during peak work periods.
Kroeschell recognized the opportunity to improve its training process. The company was interested in a solution that would enhance its already rigorous curriculum. In considering alternative approaches, Stavropoulos says Kroeschell identified five requirements.
The company wanted to train employees at slow, rather than peak, times of the year; respond quickly to customer demands for OSHA 10-trained workers; extend OSHA 10 training to all core employees; spend less time managing the safety program; and demonstrate Kroeschell's commitment to safety to customers, partners and employees.
To help implement its vision, Kroeschell selected ClickSafety.com, a seven-year-old online safety-training company. ClickSafety offers 200-plus online courses and has deployed its e-learning solutions to 2,000 clients nationally.
Stavropoulos says that, with ClickSafety, it is easier to coordinate the training schedules for its 500 employees. He simply assigns courses that employees can complete over time and at their convenience, within a time frame determined by the company.
"Instead of tying workers up during productive times of the year, we can do a lot of safety training during the slower winter months," Stavropoulos says. "We're much more efficient now."
While the company still does some classroom-style training, Kroeschell has come to depend on a wide variety of ClickSafety offerings to conduct much of its safety instruction.
Because it's so much easier to safety-train employees online, Kroeschell has been able to expand its training goals. Whereas once the company gave OSHA 10 training to supervisors, Kroeschell is now intent on providing the course to all core employees.
"Customers like OSHA 10 because it assures them that the employee has a certain level of competency when it comes to safety," says Stavropoulos. "Online instruction had made providing this training to all core employees an attainable goal. It has helped us from a marketing perspective."
Furthermore, if a customer requests that all workers on a job have OSHA 10 training, if they haven't had the training already, Kroeschell can respond quickly.
"We can assign training to the appropriate workers and they can get it done quickly," says Stavropoulos. "I do not have to hire a vendor or drop everything to conduct the training."
Not only are customers pleased that Kroeschell can respond quickly to demands for trained workers, they are also impressed with the company's online university.
"It gives our training program a higher level of sophistication," says Stavropoulos. "Online instruction has also allowed the company to streamline the management of its safety programming by providing easily accessible reporting."
He adds, "The logistics of trying to track training for hundreds of employees was time consuming and labor intensive. Now I can manage the program easily by tracking and assigning training online."
In addition, Kroeschell implemented a new customer employee orientation program for seasonal workers. Upon arrival to the job, workers now take a ClickSafety orientation course online, allowing Kroeschell to document their safety instruction automatically.
According to Stavropoulos, managing the logistics of the safety training program is no longer as time consuming as it once was. "Managing our risk requires that we train our employees and comply with industry regulations so we can reduce our overall incidents," he says. "Online instruction has had a tremendous positive impact on our overall risk management program. I'd recommend it to anyone."
Ron Bruce, vice president of content operations for ClickSafety, has 35 years of experience in various aspects of construction management, safety and health program development and management.