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OHSA is increasing training for their trainers


Because of the changing market OSHA has implemented more stringent guidelines and increased spontaneous monitoring visits to eliminate fraudulent trainers. This is following the market wide trend of cost cutting and improving efficiency.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Outreach Training Program is a nationwide network of more than 16,000 independent trainers who are qualified to teach workers and employers about workplace hazards and to provide OSHA 10-hour course-completion cards, that signify an employee has received training in specific core elements of safety and health.

While this voluntary program has allowed OSHA to expand its training capacity, however, the number of trainers has made it difficult to ensure that every one of them is in compliance with OSHA's training guidelines. This is what has prompted the change in training. In order to address this issue, OSHA recently announced that it intends to strengthen the integrity of the 36-year-old Outreach Training Program.

This has allowed the use of independent trainers and has allowed OSHA to significantly extend its training capabilities. But OSHA has stated that they will not tolerate fraudulent activity or unscrupulous trainers when workers' health and lives may be at stake.

Experts feel that the rapid growth of the training program and certain city and state regulations that are requiring workers to earn an OSHA 10-hour safety course-completion card for employment has prompted the fraudulent activity. This has led to some trainers having not been provided the appropriate training in accordance with the program or was falsifying information.

From 2004 through 2008, 2.3 million workers have received outreach training, and this has doubled the number of workers who have been trained.In 2008, records show that OSHA distributed almost 680,000 student cards and trainers held more than 43,000 classes, averaging 850 classes per week.

Because of some of the legislative requirements for workers to have 10-hour OSHA cards, 10-hour classes comprise more than 80 percent of the overall program. Construction outreach training is another highly sought-after training class that comprises 80 percent of outreach training. In addition 30-hour construction safety training courses still tripled from 2005 to 2008. Records show that on any day, 2,700 workers attend OSHA outreach training classes.

Experts felt hat strengthening the integrity of the Outreach Training Program will help ensure that workers receive quality training, help them gain employment and most importantly return them home safely at the end of their workday. OSHA began implementing these more stringent guidelines in 2008, requiring trainers to certify their classes and ensure the training documentation is in keeping with OSHA guidelines before they are given course completion cards to give to their students. OSHA also has revised its trainer courses to include more rigorous exams for authorizing new trainers and added an ethics module to all trainer courses.

To become an authorized trainer, interested parties must complete a week-long course that is either in the construction industry, in general industry or both at the OSHA Training Institute or at any OSHA Training Institute Education Center, which has locations nationwide. Once they are authorized, trainers can train for four years and are required to take an update course before the end of the four years to renew their authorization.

Along with the 2008 changes, OSHA has further revised its training program guidelines this year, adding extra mandatory hours for both the construction and general industry courses. Trainers must also now maintain class files for five years and before teaching classes with 50 or more students, trainers must first obtain approval from the OSHA Education Center.

Additionally, OSHA has increased making unannounced monitoring visits to verify that trainers are in compliance with program requirements. Trainers who are caught falsifying information will also be subject to criminal prosecution.

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