Empowering your employees with technology for effective rail on-the-job training
Across industries and job roles, training is an essential part of learning and mastering a new skill. But for a railroader working as a conductor or track maintenance worker, the need for immersive, thorough, on-the-job training is ever more important.
Just imagine the myriad situations where safety procedures can save a life, ensure that a train runs safely, and guarantee that an employee can get home safely at the end of their shift.
To best ensure this, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has enforced mandates for on-the-job training that fall under 49 CFR 243. One of the primary goals of this mandate is to improve OJT, and improve the understanding of the roles, responsibilities, administration, and implementation of OJT programs.
On-the-job training for railroads
From new hire onboarding to annual refresher training, railroad employees need to possess a basic mastery of new skills that equip them to enter their new role. This means that they have to undergo a series of training that is specific to their craft or job role, and the duties they fall under it, whether you drive a train, run the track cards, or conduct track maintenance and repairs.
Technology can be a powerful enabler of increased safety and more effective training in your railroad, empowering employees with the right tools they need to receive applicable, immersive training at the right time. In turn, the organization benefits from a high-trained and efficient workforce and can make sure that they are compliant with industry requirements for on-the-job training.
Bumps in the road
What has the potential to be a streamlined, smooth, and easy process quickly becomes complicated when a railroad has to rely on paper-based methods for on-the-job training.
Ideally, the on-the-job training process should empower your employee towards better safety behaviors and support your railroad’s safety goals. Without a centralized, structured program, on-the-job training can quickly become complicated when it comes to managing training schedules and communicating between qualified personnel training employees.
Paper, Excel-based spreadsheets are often carried for on-field for training and then stored in a folder for future reference. Imagine the difficulty of identifying trends in your training program and employee training and performance over time when the data isn’t aggregated and there are no insights available. Take this a step further and picture the hassle of pulling reports and documentary evidence of training for compliance audits (both FRA and internal audits).
Technology as the enabler
Technology-led on-the-job training programs have the potential to help support your railroad’s training and safety initiatives. This isn’t a surprise; the AAR has pointed out the critical role that technology has played in the given the increased safety in railroads over the last 10 years. Train collisions per million miles have dropped 50% since 2008, and the employee injury rate is down 16% since 2008.
At the forefront of rail safety is safety for employees. While injury rates have gone down in the last 10 years, 39% of accidents from 2013-2017 were due to human error—a significant number.
This is a number that can be addressed and decreased through consistent, effective on-the-job training, ultimately benefiting your employees and your organization. And, last but not least, you can leverage technology in innovative ways to ensure that you remain compliant with the latest FRA mandates for on-the-job training and pass all audits with the minimal hassle.
Let’s dive into the top 5 ways that technology can enable more effective on-the-job training:
- Cloud: Provides a single source of truth to store your training checklists and task lists for each training program.
- Workflows: Support repeatable and standardized testing of OJT programs along with the associated schedule for each program (assignments, deadlines, and reporting for compliance and internal, organizational means).
- Mobile: Mobility can take your training to another level, providing on-field access to your training programs in order to record inspections in real time.
- Notifications and alerts: Help you stay on top of your training requirements, meet deadlines, and be notified of follow-ups. You can track the progress of your OJT program across various collaboration tools.
- Data management: Gain visibility into training statuses or training schedules. This’ll keep you on track for your deadlines, your compliances, and make the training process more streamlined for both the organization and the trainees themselves. You can capture data points needed for compliance management and measure your OJT program’s data to identify any gaps or areas for opportunity.
- BI dashboards: These make your compliance reporting simpler and more accurate. Leadership can access dashboards to gain insights into an OJT program and measure its performance.
Results of effective, technology-driven OJT
The impact of an effective on-the-job training extends beyond compliance and cost-savings and directly impacts your workforce. Employees can work safer with a lower rate of accidents and incidents, and feel more empowered in their roles by having the needed training resources available to them. The result? Over time, you can boost employee retention and up-skilling.
To simplify the administration and management of on-the-job training, CloudMoyo created the On-the-Job-Training Management System (OJT), which standardizes training programs and ensures enhanced compliance with industry mandates for on-the-job training and consistency in on-the-job trainings. OJT harnesses the power of the technologies mentioned above to empower railroads to provide the technologies mentioned above to Class I and short line and regional railroads.