Perspectives: Gas Detection

Jeremy DaValle, Training Manager, Industrial Scientific

Industrial Hygiene in the Workplace sat down with Jeremy DaValle, Training Manager, Industrial Scientific, to talk about the company’s “Gas Detection Made Easy” training program and much more.  

Industrial Scientific has “Gas Detection Made Easy” training courses. How do you make gas detection easy? 

We make it easy for people to understand gas detection by using clear, common language instead of technical jargon and by focusing the course on group-led activities, rather than instructor lectures. We believe that the person who is doing the talking is the one who is doing the learning. Therefore, the more group activity we have, the more our attendees learn.

We have also created a Gas Detection Made Easy book, a Confined Space book, and a Gas Detection Made Easy application, available at no charge for smart devices using iOS or Android, that we use during our class to help make the difficult concepts easy to understand through visuals and other explanations. The training team within Industrial Scientific has roughly 120 years of combined experience, so we have a lot of stories to share to contextualize the concepts we’re teaching.

Industrial Scientific offers training in many formats: in-person, videos, webinars, mobile apps. Is there one format most popular?

In the past, the Custom Onsite in-person classes were a popular format, because the training team could customize the curriculum to the customer’s needs and deliver it to their employees at their own site. However, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, our Custom Online classes have been hugely popular. Luckily, facilitating classes online is not new to us—we have been using the online format for roughly 11 years. That experience and expertise has allowed us to successfully deliver critical training to our customers, even during these difficult times.

How can users assess the effectiveness of their Industrial Scientific training? 

We work hand-in-hand to show users the effectiveness of the training they take with us. After attending one of our classes, participants take an assessment that is customized to the learning goals for that class. If a participant passes the assessment, they receive a certificate of completion. These assessments are tailored to each course. For example, we have a How to Use and Maintain Gas Detectors class that teaches the participants how to perform general maintenance on our equipment. With this class, participants take a multiple-choice quiz and then complete a hands-on assessment, where they repair an instrument that we broke for them. The real-time repair test allows us (and the participants) to see whether they have the skills they need to successfully go back to their day-to-day work. Participants know right then and there whether their training was effective.

At the end of each class, participants also complete surveys to share their feedback. As a team, we look at the survey results and determine what’s going well; what could be improved; and if there are any countermeasures we should try.

Industrial Scientific’s library of training courses is extensive, ranging from fundamentals to sensor technology and more. Who are the audiences for your training?

As you said, we have a broad range of courses, so we can train every worker who needs to use gas detection equipment. So many industries require gas detectors to keep their workers safe—from heavy industry, like oil and gas and steel manufacturing, all the way to consumer-facing industries, like paper products (cardboard, diapers, toilet paper), water treatment, utilities, fire departments and more.

Because there are so many people betting their lives on our gas detectors day-in and day-out, it’s our job to make sure every single person has the training they need to use the equipment properly. We cover everything from a fundamentals class for anyone new to the concept of gas detection; to an operations class for someone who needs to learn the best methods of using the equipment and the proper steps; all the way up to a technician course for people who repair gas detection equipment. Every single class we offer is customized to the attendees: We identify what will be the most helpful and valuable and teach that material only— we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all classes.

Gas detection technology is evolving rapidly with various forms of the “connected worker.” How does your training make this technology easy to understand for non-tech EHS personnel (i.e., for some Baby Boomers)? 

People with all backgrounds from all age groups can use Industrial Scientific equipment—and it’s not just due to our work as trainers. Industrial Scientific is intensely focused on designing our equipment to be user-friendly. So, if you take the ease-of-use, paired with the right training, we guarantee that even non-tech EHS personnel can use our equipment. In our in-person classes, we drive this home through hands-on group activities that ensure everyone understands how to use the equipment and the evolving connected safety technology. This approach allows us to give participants individual attention and view their progress in real time. From there, we can either slow down or speed up our lessons to adapt to the learning curve.

When you say your training “takes the guesswork out of gas detection,” how does the training accomplish this? 

There are some maintenance tasks that need to be done routinely to ensure a gas detector is working correctly. No matter what a manufacturer states, users always need to perform some amount of routine maintenance to make sure a gas detector will work when they need it. We call that “the moment,” where the user and your monitor are put to the test. To prepare for “the moment,” users need to know how to determine whether the gas detectors are functioning correctly. We teach all of those routines and what to look for, so when users grab an instrument off the charger or the docking station, they know what to look for and can trust that it’s working as expected.

On top of the maintenance aspect, we also teach our attendees about features designed to make our gas detectors easy to use. Things like alarm action messages, custom alerts, and location tagging are all features designed to give users insights into the gas detectors and their sites so they can consistently make safer decisions.

How can Industrial Scientific training be customized for users? Can you cite an example?

We have a lot of examples, but the one that comes to mind is our Custom Online classes. We have been conducting online classes for a while now. Online classes have a bad rep for someone sitting behind a desk sharing their PowerPoint and reading the slides – or even worse, pressing play on a recording and then asking if anyone has questions after the playback. We care about our attendees too much to treat them this way. Our online classes use two webcams at the same time: one focused on the instructor and one focused on the equipment. This simulates a face-to-face session. Alternating between the two cameras shows attendees where they need to focus. These online sessions are recorded and shared with the customer so they can share the information with employees who weren’t able to attend and attendees can revisit the training whenever they need it.

On top of customizing the format to fit the method of instruction, we also customize the topics. We work with the primary contact for each training to build a curriculum with the topics they want to cover. This allows us to focus on what’s most important to the customer, so we can guarantee the training is time well spent.

Regarding Gas Detection 101, 102 and 103 training courses: Who is the target audience?

All three of these classes are designed for different audiences. The Gas Detection 101 course is designed to help everyone learn the fundamentals of gas detection. It’s a great course for someone who just started using gas detection equipment or someone who needs a refresher on the critical topics and concepts around gas detection. Gas Detection 102 builds on the 101 class by showing how to use the equipment. We take all of the concepts from 101 and learn how to perform the associated activities on our equipment. The audience for Gas Detection 102 is anyone who needs to know how to operate the equipment. Gas Detection 103 is for anyone who needs to repair equipment.

Why is it essential for Industrial Scientific to offer so much training, in addition to being a multi-line product manufacturer? Industrial Scientific’s vision is to end death on the job by 2050. Training plays a critical role in that vision. We can make gas detectors easy to use, but if a customer doesn’t understand how to maintain the equipment; interpret the readings; or use the software properly, the results could be deadly. We also know that one training offering will not work for every customer. We must be adaptable to ensure that we can help every customer, every time. We’re incredibly proud that there’s no customer we can’t serve. To make sure that never changes, we continue to adapt our training content and format to meet our customers’ needs.  IHW

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