Leasing has long been recognized in business as a way of managing the high cost of capital as well as minimizing the infrastructure investments required to maintain equipment. Rather than making an up-front purchase, leasing enables assets to be acquired in areas where managing obsolescence is a high priority.

Leasing computer equipment is a good example of this business strategy. A three-year lease of microcomputers generally encompasses their productive life span, eliminating the cost of initial purchase and managing their obsolescence through the term of the lease. When the lease ends, the option may be renewed for new equipment or other alternatives may be sought to meet changing business requirements.

This leasing strategy is now being applied to safety training and is beginning to yield significant results. In fact, the leasing option is becoming the fastest-growing trend in safety training. Training can be leased through an Application Service Provider (ASP). Using service contracts, ASPs offer compliance curriculums that are accessed over the Internet on a subscription basis. Typically, organizations purchase a designated number of subscriptions for their employees. These subscriptions enable the workforce to access a safety-training curriculum crafted to meet their specific requirements.

Here are nine reasons why the leasing option is gaining momentum among safety professionals.

1) Cost savings

Companies employing the leasing option for safety training have reported a roughly 50 percent reduction in their compliance training costs when compared to standard classroom and field-training programs. Because these services typically operate on a subscription-fee basis, employees have unlimited access to the safety training curriculum, contributing to additional savings.

2) Low risk

ASPs typically employ extensive security measures to ensure reliable performance and data accuracy. Data sent over the Internet (such as training scores) can be encrypted, for example, and security measures are stringent for server maintenance. This is extremely important since employees' training scores and learning documentation are required for compliance purposes.

3) Conserve resources

With the leasing option, services such as data center management, system maintenance, program updates and course development are part of the package. Because the ASP provides these services, there are no extra investments required by the corporation to pay for infrastructure to implement the training system.

4) Speedy implementation

Since the entire training system resides on secure servers located outside of the corporation, the only requirements to utilize the system are a computer with access to the Internet and an employee identifier and password. Because of these limited requirements, the system can be implemented very quickly within most organizations, with a minimum amount of cost and delays.

5) 24/7 availability

Many of today's corporations have multiple locations in different time zones, with employees often working around the clock. Providing effective safety training to such a widely dispersed workforce has always been a challenge. The ASP option meets this challenge by making training courses available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Employees need only log on, select the assigned course and learn.

6) Secure documentation

As part of its service, an ASP can be expected to provide a Learning Management System (LMS) that schedules the training, documents the results and provides real-time reports and analysis of all training activity across the entire organization. This is a particularly valuable component of the service, since documentation must be available at any time in case of accident, injury or audit.

7) Comprehensive courses

Another advantage of the ASP option is the hundreds of safety courses available on topics that meet the training requirements for OSHA, EPA and DOT. The cost to develop such a curriculum along with the supporting technology would be millions of dollars and years of development time. With a leasing arrangement, all of this can easily be made available immediately, with instantaneous benefits to the organization.

One word of caution: It's vital to assess the quality of the instructional design in any training system. Effective safety training must result in behavior change, and this does not occur unless it is engineered into the course designs.

8) Updates & maintenance

Safety regulations change on a regular basis. The leasing option can be a smart choice, considering the substantial cost of keeping training programs updated with these revised regulations. ASPs provide training programs that are updated on a continuous basis. Plus, all programming and maintenance required to support the training system are included in the terms of the lease.

9) Documented benefits

The leasing option provides valuable benefits to any safety professional searching for a more cost-effective method of meeting regulatory training requirements. For example:

  • A major chemical company reduced its OSHA recordable incidence rate from 5.7 to 0.3 in 18 months and saved $4 million annually.
  • A large pharmaceutical company launched 70 environmental, health and safety courses to more than 20,000 employees worldwide at an estimated annual cost savings of several million dollars.

Both of these organizations realized these savings while raising the quality and quantity of training available to their workforces. Based on such documented results, it's clear the leasing option will continue to grow in popularity as more companies experience the overall benefits provided by this new approach to safety training.