The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is strengthening the Outreach Training Program—a curriculum on educating employers and workers about workplace hazards—after reports of the presence of fraudulent trainers circulated. Since this Program is a voluntary initiative, independent trainers—both eligible and ineligible—have emerged for the construction and general industries.
However, despite OSHA regulation through the handing out of 10-hour course completion cards (which serve as “certifications”), some trainers have still been found to provide training that is not in accordance with the program. To solve this and to identify program violators, OSHA is working on how to improve trainer authorization procedures as well as how to ensure that trainers are in compliance with the agency’s program guidelines. According to OSHA’s Jordan Barab, though independent trainers have significantly helped in the expansion of the training program, fraudulent activities and unscrupulous trainers will not be tolerated by the agency as it is the health and lives of the workers that are threatened. In strengthening the program to address this issue, the following procedures are done:
- Trainers are given authorization to teach and to do outreach training only after completion of a one-week course in an OSHA Training Institute Education Center.
- Only after going through the course at OSHA’s Training Center do trainers become eligible to teach the 10-hour and/or 30-hour programs. The 10-hour program covers basic information about workplace hazards and an introduction to OSHA standards and regulations, while the 30-hour program includes courses in construction, maritime and general industry safety and health hazards.
- Completion of the Outreach Training Program from an authorized trainer/training center will entitle the student/trainee to an OSHA 10-hour card. Some states and cities require their workers to undergo this training as well as to earn an OSHA card as a condition of employment.
- OSHA is increasing unannounced or surprise monitoring visits at independent training centers to check if trainers are in compliance with program requirements.
- The agency has also developed a process for investigating and arbitrating complaints. From this, OSHA will create and post on its Web site a “watch list” containing details of outreach trainers who have received disciplinary action.
- OSHA requires trainers to certify their classes as well as to have documentation of their training. These requirements should first be met as well as submitted before OSHA will release the course completion cards to the trainers.
- The Outreach Training Program courses have also been revised as well as the exams made more challenging so that the authorization of new trainers is made more competitive.
- Though still undergoing development, OSHA will be adding an ethics module to all trainer courses.
- OSHA will continue to refer fraudulent activity to the Labor Department’s Office of the Inspector General and trainers caught falsifying information will be subject to criminal prosecution.
Barab concluded by emphasizing that these efforts to strengthen OSHA’s Outreach Training Program are still for the workers to receive quality training, to help them gain employment, and to keep them safe in their workplace, wherever it may be.