It’s a scenario that happens too often. A worker operating a piece of equipment nearly causes a serious accident. The foreman later finds out the worker wasn’t trained to use the machine.
Employers in all industries where training is crucial for safety need to make accurate worker training records immediately available to supervisors, safety inspectors, auditors, safety officers, training managers, and administrative staff. Workers need access to their records so they’ll know which certifications are expiring so they can sign up for recertification. Ensuring that only qualified employees are assigned to potentially hazardous jobs is a foundation of safety.
QR Codes Connect Training Records to Phone Screen
Quick Response (QR) codes can tie all this together. QR code is the trademark name for the two-dimensional barcode system. It’s the black-and-white square that’s on everything from advertisements to inventory. It was invented in 1994 by a Toyota subsidiary to track vehicles as they were assembled and to scan components at high speeds. QR codes hold 100 times more data than one-dimensional barcodes, and they can be digitally scanned.
To track employee training, a unique QR code is generated and assigned to each employee. The code can be imprinted on the worker’s photo ID card, hardhat, or silicone bracelet. QR codes can be read by scanning the code with a smartphone or tablet. Linking the device to the employee’s profile on the cloud, the code gives the user access to:
- Training records such as courses completed, recent recertifications, qualifications and skills, internal and external classwork, and class attendance lists
- Additional information such as health insurance, background checks, and drug tests
- Additional information such as emergency medical information (including blood type and allergies), worksite documentation, verification of Identity, position, or title and real-time work assignments
QR codes can be used to quickly update training. Instructors can automatically record who has completed a training course by scanning the QR code on the employee badge or by entering the employee’s ID number. Managers and foremen can track attendance at worksite meetings, tool-box talks, company orientation sessions, and safety briefings.
Tracking safety equipment issued to employees is another application. For example, new OSHA silica regulations require companies to track the usage of respirator masks. If an employee uses a respirator more than 30 times a year, he needs to receive a specialized medical check-up. Tracking usage on paper is clumsy and error-prone.
With the cloud-based system, authorized employees can scan the QR code on an employee’s badge to register the checkout of a respirator mask, a climbing harness, or any type of equipment. The database is immediately updated to record this event. Managers can always download a complete spreadsheet of all equipment checked out, by employee, to meet regulatory reporting requirements.
David Finkelstein is president of Credential Verification Service, which creates ID cards for real-time validation of employee training records. He can be contacted at (301) 637-4528; e-mail: