What is OSHA training?

OSHA Training: Its Importance and Impact on Workplace Safety

You are an hour away from your lunch, and you still got a full week’s job-sheets to file. Suddenly your manager calls, “You have to attend OSHA training in the afternoon.” 

What would you do under such a situation? Would you attend the training, or would you ask your manager to postpone it for next month?

Before you decide on an answer, ask yourself this one question – What could be the cost of NOT attending OSHA training? 

A citation? Penalty? Jail term? 

What if it costs a life! 

Consider the current situation across the US. The COVID-19 pandemic. True, OSHA hasn’t yet declared Workplace COVID-19 training as mandatory. But, what if a worker unaware of COVID-19 myths spread the disease across your workplace?  

And, why just COVID-19! What if a worker untrained in fall-protection standards, starts working without a safety harness, falls, and dies?   

Never miss OSHA training!

A single violation can cost $13,000. Willful violations can cost $130,000 for every violation. And that’s only the penalty. Add to it the legal fee, loss of productivity, cost of medical care, bad press, and loss of orders due to OSHA citations. 

 In 1970, before the OSHA was introduced, the US industry was suffering heavy losses because of poor workplace practices. The loss in terms of wages, medical expenses, disability compensation, and loss of productivity was staggering. As per records, more than 14,000 workers died on job in 1971. 

Because of OSHA, these numbers fell to 4,340 in 2009. 

What is OSHA training? 

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 sets workplace standards for US businesses. Under OSHA, employers are responsible for implementing these standards. And, they are responsible for training their workers on these standards. 

OSHA deems such training necessary for ensuring that workers have the skills and knowledge for working safely. 

The OSHA organizes these standards in five categories –

  • General industry 
  • Maritime
  • Construction
  • Agriculture
  • Federal employee programs

Every standard has its own training requirement. These training requirements cover frequently occurring safety and health hazards; and how to prevent, avoid, and reduce the risks posed by the hazard. 

Why is OSHA training important?

OSHA training is mandatory by law. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor (DOL) mandates OSHA training for all employees. Employers must train employees on OSHA standards that apply to their work.

Workplace safety depends upon this training. It helps employees understand 

  • What is a hazard
  • How to identify hazards 
  • How to deal with hazards 
  • Best practices for working safely
  • How to react in case of an emergency  

The training also helps them realize that employers cannot force them to start a new work, unless they have been trained in that work. Without such knowledge, employees put themselves in danger of injury and death. 

You can learn about OSHA standards and OSHA training from the OSHA website. OSHA has several documents to highlight the value of OSHA training and how it should be conducted.  

Illness and injury prevention plan

If you own a business, and if you have people working for you, then it’s your responsibility to protect your workers from getting hurt. An effective method of protecting workers is having an illness and injury prevention plan in place. 

Illness and injury prevention plan focuses on finding and fixing hazards. It’s a proactive method of reducing risks before an employee gets injured. Training and education is one of the seven components of such a plan.  

What you need to include in your OSHA training 

You should conduct your OSHA training at the beginning of each training cycle. If you add a new hazard, another OSHA training should happen before employees start working. 

Such a training program is necessary for ensuring that your managers, supervisors, and workers understand the structure, plan and procedures of your OSHA compliance program. 

Your OSHA training should include information about –

  • Hazards of the workplace 
  • Your safety standards
  • Controls in place for protecting workers 

By the end of the training your employees should know about –

  • Policies, procedures and rules of your prevention program
  • Details of your safety officers, or the people they can reach out for queries
  • How to report illness, hazards, accidents, and near misses
  • How to handle an emergency
  • Employee responsibility
  • Worker rights under the OSHA Act.

The training should be carried out across your organization. 

Everyone working for you, including managers, supervisors, workers, contractors, sub-contractors and temporary workers in your workforce should have a clear idea about your illness and injury prevention program. 

When to conduct OSHA training  

OSHA training should be conducted as the OSHA standards require. The training should happen within the time frame defined by the standards. Some standards may also call for repeating the training after a fixed internal. 

Your first job should be to identify the OSHA standards that apply to your workplace. Once you have the list of standards, you would want to find out the training requirements for those standards. You should use the Training requirements in OSHA Standards for this purpose. 

OSHA training frequency is divided into initial, annual and specific increment training.  

1.Initial training

Such training should happen before a worker starts working. The training should ensure that the worker understands the hazards of the work he or she is about to start. 

2. Annual and specific increment training 

After their initial training, employees should be retrained as per the applicable standards. Some may have to be retrained annually. Others may have to be retrained every few years. Standards may also have shorter training cycles, such as quarterly or half-yearly. The frequency of the training should depend upon the risk level of the hazard.

Changes to your business processes can also trigger the need for OSHA training. If the changes introduce a new hazard to the work site, then you must train in that hazard. The training should explain the hazard, safety practices, and the controls in place against the hazard.  

You must retrain your employees in case of accidents too. Under such a condition, you should train your workforce immediately. 

Managing your OSHA training 

Managing OSHA training could be a tiresome task for you. Here are some of the major tasks that you’d have to do – 

  • Ensure that the new hires have attended the OSHA awareness program
  • Classify your employees as per their job–tasks, and assign them to applicable OSHA training groups.
  • Intimate employees before their training certificates expire
  • Ensure retraining of employees before their certificates expire.
  • If an accident happens, then train employees as demanded by the OSHA standards. 
  • Track the OSHA compliance of your entire organization without letting the task overwhelm you.

Monitoring OSHA compliance can become even more exhaustive if it involves 10s of employees. Most businesses use a learning management system for solving this problem. With a learning management system you can automate your OSHA training. Grouping employees as per their common training needs can save time. You can train employees on multiple standards quickly and easily. It also saves the time spent on tracking and recording your training program. 

Most accidents are a result of untrained workers taking risks that should have been avoided. This is a result of incomplete OSHA training. Train your workers such that they can recognize the hazards they would come across while working. Instruct them on control techniques. Teach them about proper work practices. Drill into them the habit of using personal protective equipment. 

The goal of OSHA training isn’t just creating a safe workplace. The goal of OSHA training is to ensure that all workers return home safely and healthy. 

What’s your experience with OSHA training? Has it ever helped you avoid an accident? If you remember an incident where your training helped save a life, please share it with our readers. You can leave your comments in the section below. 

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