Lawrence Daquan “Day” Davis was just 21 years old when he was crushed to death by a palletizer machine. The incident at a Bacardi bottling plant in Jacksonville, Fla., where Davis was killed by a 2,000-pound load while sweeping broken glass on his first day on the job, led to the company being fined $192,000 for failing to protect workers. But the cost to his family was far greater: Davis, a Job Corps graduate, had planned to settle down and have children.

Unfortunately, Davis’ story is by no means isolated. Every year, approximately 4,500 workers are killed on the job in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2013 census—the equivalent of 12 families destroyed every day.

While this is a vast improvement from 1970, when 14,000 workers died in one year, the situation is still not remotely where it should be considering the Occupational Safety and Health Act has been in place for 45 years.

In addition to fatalities, U.S. employers record nearly three million serious occupational injuries and illnesses annually, including wounds, amputations, back injuries and other conditions requiring care beyond first aid. And this overlooks incidents that go unrecorded. The problem can be more pronounced for workers who are employed through temporary worker agencies or as independent contractors. If agencies don’t take it upon themselves to prepare their contractors to work safely at unfamiliar locations, accidents happen.

Although OSHA requires companies to prove they have provided safety training to workers, the effectiveness of employers’ injury prevention programs varies tremendously. And safety training can fall through the cracks if there are multiple employers in a given workplace, as is the case when work is subcontracted out.

When managing large-scale projects where training must be delivered for multiple locations, roles and languages, construction companies could be forgiven for feeling daunted. But, as is so often the case nowadays, technology can be part of the solution.

Remote Training
Contract construction workers often rotate among several different project workplaces every couple of months and even work at several concurrently. It can be a logistical nightmare getting every worker onsite at the same time for orientation.

When onsite training is a challenge, online services can provide an opportunity to ensure workers sit through all necessary induction materials ahead of time. In order to achieve collaborative, synchronized productivity from this set of workers, it’s important that they are aware of the company’s vision, mission and expectations.

Online training can lower employers’ orientation costs while improving results and reducing workers’ down time. By no means is online training a sufficient alternative to onsite orientation, but it can provide a useful complement. In most cases, online orientations are supplemented with a “walk-around” on arrival, and for some roles that require further training, a blended approach can be adopted.

Monitored Training and Qualifications
The beauty of delivering training online is that digital activities can be monitored and assessed. This can make it easy for employers to know who has actually completed and uploaded their documentation.

Simple online quizzes also make it possible to know who has gained requisite knowledge about workplace practices. If workers have not logged the time to prove they have thorough knowledge of the conditions they will experience at work, for everyone’s safety, they should not be allowed on the shop floor or construction site.

It is also important to note that machinery training requires face-to-face assessment. The online orientation is aimed at site rules, policies, procedures and company culture. Any operation of machinery should be accompanied by safety rules and procedures that outline in detail the people who are qualified to operate the machinery, and who is trained to assess or fix it.

Mobile Training
Even the most diligent workers can forget required processes when they are onsite. Initial training may seem foggy when they are in the thick of the moment.

Mobile phones make it easy to carry orientation materials and guidelines around. If workers need access to paperwork, or need information pertaining to a specific company they will be visiting that day, they can get it online without having to  wait. This allows them to continue their job efficiently and, more importantly, in a safe manner.


Julie Currid is cofounder and COO of initiafy, an onboarding software company. For more information, visit initiafy.com or follow @initiafy