View a printable version of this page.Print Page

OPERC’s Distance and Life Long Learning Zone

In today’s global and commercially aggressive markets, competitive advantage is fundamental to business survival. To achieve and sustain such advantage, requires that businesses be introspective, as part of continual process improvement. In operational terms this means looking at commercial ‘resources’ – which includes, but is not limited to – working practices, technologies and infrastructures.

Most importantly, included within these resources are a company’s employees; the ‘people’ element. People are key to so many commercial aspects and must – for a company to attain said competitive advantage – be developed to their full potential. From this, naturally flows efficiency, effectiveness and profitability. Conversely, in the absence of a fully trained and competent workforce, a business can rarely keep pace with its competitors.

Employees’ competence development fosters empowerment; thereby encouraging people to better manage and implement their own abilities. This in turn underpins effective work practices at the operational level and business performance at a strategic level. Higher productivity rates, improved quality of product, safer working methods, and lower staff turnover are all commensurate with empowered and competent workers.

The path to personal competence development typically starts with induction and foundation training. However, a subject-specific foundation course can be very expensive, not only in terms of capital cost, but also in terms of ‘commitment time’ required of the employee to undertake that learning. It can also be difficult for some employees to attain time off work (for example, to visit training providers) and the maintaining of sufficient personal enthusiasm can therefore also become problematic. The latter is particularly pertinent to mature employees who may not have undertaken any learning for a number of years and may also therefore lack self-confidence.

Notwithstanding these difficulties, the cost of failing to provide adequate training is even greater to a business. Such costs result from lower quality, lower employee enthusiasm and loyalty, greater potential for accidents and reduced productivity. Clearly, the longer term benefits of employee development are directly related to a company’s bottom line.

The Key to Employee Development: OPERC’s Lifelong Learning Zone

OPERC’s Lifelong Learning Zone (LLZ) represents a cost effective, easily accessible, ‘self-study’ learning resource that can significantly raise employee knowledge on health and safety (H&S) issues. The philosophy of the LLZ is that training and competence development should not simply comprise a one-off event undertaken at the start of an employee’s career. Rather, it should be part of an holistic, continual employee personal development strategy. The OPERC Lifelong Learning Zone provides cutting-edge training resources of the very highest quality, without encumbering industry with unnecessary administrative burdens, high costs of implementation, high demands on the employee, or tiers of time-consuming bureaucracy.

Contrary to these negative aspects of training and education, OPERC’s LLZ delivers a wide variety of foundation-level H&S training modules, each being a self-contained carefully designed learning resource, in subjects such as undertaking risk assessments; manual handling; trips and slips; working at height; and hand-arm vibration. (Of course, this is just a flavour of the many subjects available, for a complete listing visit Bookshop - Modules)

Each module is divided into three parts. Part one introduces the module’s contents, aims and objectives and clearly states the designed learning outcomes. Part two presents the main learning materials in a clear and easy-to-understand way, and most modules are well complemented with Figures, photographs and Tables. A clearly presented bullet point summary of all the key learning points then precedes part three, which provides self assessment questions. These questions allow learners to test what they have learned at any time during the training process.

Although OPERC primarily serves the plant and equipment sector, many of these training modules are equally applicable to other industrial sectors, since they facilitate learning in most industry-wide basic H&S subjects. (Note also, that industry-specific subject modules are available and that OPERC’s experts can design and produce training modules in almost any H&S subject you may require. Please do email us for additional information – see contact details at end of this leaflet).

Successful completion of a training regime built around OPERC H&S modules, can also prepare employees to take a more formal assessment via OPERC’s on-line Safetynet test. This is a revolutionary internet based health and safety test system that allows users to measure and record candidates’ knowledge of H&S subjects.

Upon successful completion of a Safetynet test, a certificate of competence may be issued. The test results are also presently ‘mapped’ against some vocational qualifications, including the Scottish/National Vocational Qualification (S/NVQ) in Specialised Plant and Machinery Operations. This allows candidates to objectively demonstrate knowledge evidence for the purpose of S/NVQ portfolio building.

Hence, the training not improves their health and safety knowledge but also contributes to a vocational award! Note that OPERC-Safetynet tests can also be undertaken using mobile technology; thereby ensuring that the test is accessible to all, 24/7, anywhere on the planet.

OPERC acknowledges that each employee’s learning rate and preferred means of training material delivery, can differ significantly. Therefore, a broad range of delivery mechanisms have been devised within the LLZ to suit individual’s requirements. These mechanisms include:

  • The comprehensive suite of modules described above. This resource is particularly important for remote communities or international organisations that are geographically dispersed.
  • An electronic copy of all modules as downloadable PDFs is available as part of the package. This ensures that learning materials can also be accessed in paper or electronic forms where desired. The paper versions can, for example, be handed to employees for self study or be used to reinforce knowledge provided in other formal teaching settings. Importantly, it also means that individuals who do not have access to, or cannot use a computer, can still participate in quality training, education and self development.
  • A bullet point version of all learning modules can be made available (at an extra cost) as Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. These facilitate group presentations thus saving instructors and employers invaluable time and costs from having to develop their own presentations and will be available shortly.

All modules are continually updated so as to ensure that they remain current and valid with respect to the very latest industrial, technological and legislative developments. Based upon a worker’s personal learning requirements and a risk assessment [1], training instructors and employers can then decide which modules are applicable to each individual employee and thereafter plan an appropriate training programme.

To help in employee training programme design, the OPERC ‘Online-instructor’ facility is available at no additional cost. Online-instructor is an on-line management information system that allows employers to assign individual study modules to employees while providing an auditable trail of training information in respect of all

Why not become a corporate member today and then sign up to OPERC’s distance learning zone? Click here for membership registration

[1] The UK’s Health and Safety Executive, London provide some first class, free information on how to conduct a risk assessment and OPERC strongly advises readers to consult with the Health and Safety Executive (or other similar national enforcement agencies, if used outside of the UK) as appropriate before acting upon any recommendations contained within this text.