So, you're starting off the new year planning your safety training schedule. Time for refreshers on hazard communications, lockout tagout, and confined spaces. Want to know what exactly OSHA requires of you, where to get new training materials or just some ideas for livening up that boring course you conduct?

Considered the Internet? Used effectively, the Net can be as handy as a catalog and as helpful as a consultant to folks shopping for safety training products and information. At least that's what any Internet junkie would tell you. Others, of course, will argue that going online is just a big waste of time.

It sure is easy to waste a lot of time floating around sidetracked in cyberspace. But if you keep your focus and conduct a refined search, the Internet can help simplify your training job -- your cyber source for free training materials, other companies' safety policies, and all kinds of OSHA compliance info.

To test the waters for you, Industrial Safety & Hygiene News spent a few minutes "surfing" the Internet for safety training information. Ten minutes online turned up a wealth of good stuff, a few doozies, and Bosnia's human rights record from 1995.

The search is on

We started our search using the Alta Vista search engine: []. In what Alta Vista calls a "simple" (as opposed to "advanced") search of sources on the Web, plugging the word "training" into the search box turned up over one million matches. Typing in "safety training" whittled the matches down to a half million. We narrowed our search further: "confined spaces safety training" scored 70,000 matches within one second.

As anyone who has conducted an Internet search knows, 70,000 matches doesn't necessarily mean 70,000 reliable or even relevant pieces of information. In fact, a query for "confined spaces safety training" can turn up documents containing just one of those four words. One way to target your search through Alta Vista is by requesting documents that contain the words "confined and spaces and safety and training" and "advanced" search. Doing that eliminated about 69,000 matches.

The 1,038 germane items we ended up with ranged from ordering information for the U.S. Industrial Film and Video Festival's first-place flick "Confined Spaces, Deadly Places" [ bccst100.html] to the Celeste, Texas volunteer fire department's confined space page [ cvfd/confi.htm].

Here's what else we found: ·

  • Virginia Tech's confined spaces entry program and policy []; ·
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories' confined space training program [ h/hsm/supplement_26.14/sup26_14.html]; ·
  • The Complete Confined Spaces Handbook ordering information [http://]; ·
  • A confined spaces decision-making flow chart and 115 things employers need to know about confined spaces []; ·
  • OSHA's summary and explanation of the confined spaces standard [].

Helpful hints

Keep a few things in mind when searching the Net to keep your sources more reliable. First, remember that the Internet is international. Sources provided could be based anywhere in the world. For instance, our search turned up what appeared to be a useful item: a sample confined spaces entry permit form [http://www. allette. h4/374.htm]. Useful, that is, if you're in Australia. The form, it turns out, comes from Worksafe Australia's homepage.

Also keep in mind: nobody is in charge of updating the Internet. We found registration information for a confined space training course that took place last summer.

Otherwise, shopping on the Internet can be a pleasure. One site even greeted us: "Hi, we've been waiting for you. We hear you are looking for confined space training. Well you have found the right place" [http://ourworld.].