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Comparing the Costs: Online vs. In-Person Safety Training

  • 4 Min Read

Learn how make your safety training programs more effective and ensure your employees have the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe at work.


We can’t overstate the importance of health and safety training in the energy sector. Not only is it mandatory to ensure an organization is legally compliant, but it’s also critical to the health and well-being of employees.

Given the importance of your safety training programs, you must be able to deliver them as efficiently and effectively as possible. Switching to online training can make a huge difference: It can reduce costs and minimize disruptions. Plus, it’s flexible enough to ensure that the organization and its people stay safe and compliant, even in the face of change.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the costs associated with in-person and online training to help you decide on the best approach for your organization.

Common Costs of In-Person Training

The direct costs of in-person training depend on what facilities and resources you have in-house. Often, they can include things like:

  • printed course materials
  • facility rental
  • catering
  • transportation
  • accommodations
  • additional fees or lost deposits in the event of unexpected cancellations

While there may be some ways to save money by changing up the location or lunch order, these costs are always going to loom large. They add up and increase incrementally with each employee. Plus, you’ll always need to plan for alternate dates for people who miss training due to illness or other scheduling conflicts, whether expected or unexpected.

On top of that, there are the indirect expenses—that is, costs that aren’t calculated by adding up the invoices at the end of the training. When you count the number of hours spent on travel and training, multiply by employee salary, then add in the amount of lost productivity, the disruption to work could add up to be the single largest cost.

If your head isn’t spinning yet, there’s also the extra administration time for things like tracking who needs training and when, planning and coordinating the training, and updating records and reports afterward.

Common Costs of Online Training

The direct costs of online training depend on whether you’re purchasing access to courses or delivering them yourself through an in-house learning management system (LMS). Since the former is a straightforward calculation of the number of employees multiplied by the number of courses, we’ll focus on the latter.

Depending on the vendor you’re working with, the direct costs of training through an LMS can include:

  • initial setup/implementation
  • course design services
  • ongoing subscription fees

Some costs are going to carry over from in-person training. Employees, for example, are still going to need to take time to do the training. The key difference is that online training doesn’t require long stretches of time away from work nor do people need to travel. It can be done close to or on the jobsite in short increments and at convenient times of the day.

There could still be administrative tasks to do, but your LMS can help make that work easier. Templates and pre-built tools mean in-house content creators can easily and quickly create engaging training content. There could also be ways to automate enrollment, reporting and record keeping.

So, you can already see some efficiencies compared to in-person training. The initial setup fee might seem high, but remember, it’s a one-time fixed cost, unlike the in-person costs that are duplicated each time you plan a training session.

Course design might also feel like an added expense if you’re used to designing slide decks and training binders, but once they’re designed, they can be updated and tweaked easily. No reprinting required.

Costs of Safety Training: Online vs. In-Person
Online: initial setup/implementation, course design services, ongoing subscription fees
Both: administrative tasks, employee time
In-person: printed course materials, facility rental, catering, transportation, accommodations, fees/lost deposits due to cancellations

Wrap Up

In-Person Safety TrainingOnline Safety Training
Where You Spend
The space (accommodations, rental, catering), the materials (printing fees), the time (transportation, employee and trainer salaries) and the extras (lost deposits, additional training to make up for cancellations)
Where You Spend
The technology (implementation, integrations, subscriptions) and the services (course design, data analysis)
Where You Save
You can look to spend less on food and facilities but finding a lot of wiggle room may prove difficult.
Where You Save
Any costs associated with physical spaces and materials will be reduced, if not eliminated. There are productivity gains, too. Your staff can streamline time-intensive tasks and employees won’t need to travel back and forth from training centers to jobsites.

Additional Considerations

There are a few other benefits to online safety training that are harder to calculate directly but shouldn’t be left out.

  • Online learning can be self-paced, allowing learners to spend more time on concepts they’re not sure of while spending less time on things they’ve already mastered.
  • Unlike classroom training where learners have one shot to get trained no matter what kind of day they’re having, online learning can be done anywhere at any time, allowing them to learn when it’s best for them.
  • Online training ensures everyone is compliant—new employees don’t have to wait for the next available session and you don’t have to worry about planning around employee absences.

All these things make your safety training programs more effective and ensure your employees have the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe at work.

Benefits of online safety training: easy to scale as you grow, flexible dates and times, self-paced learning, cost savings

Get the Most Out of Your Safety Training Programs

Measuring the ROI of your safety training programs should be an ongoing part of making sure it’s getting the results you’re looking for. Learn more about training ROI in our guide.

Written by:

Haley Wilson

Haley Wilson is a Content Marketing Manager at D2L, specializing in the corporate learning space. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph as well as a Master of Arts focused in history from Wilfrid Laurier University.

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Table of Contents
  1. Common Costs of In-Person Training
  2. Common Costs of Online Training
  3. Wrap Up
  4. Additional Considerations