OSHA has toughed requirements and tightened procedures for its voluntary Outreach Training Program, in an effort to improve the quality of outreach classes and ensure the integrity of its authorized trainers.
The agency said that new "program requirements" – formerly known as “program guidelines” will include a trainer code of conduct and a Statement of Compliance which requires each trainer to verify that the training they conduct will be in accordance with the Outreach Training Program requirements and procedures. Other program enhancements involve limiting classroom size to a maximum of 40 students, limiting the use of translators to those with safety and health experience, and limiting the amount of time spent on videos during the training. Also, OSHA has imposed limits on outreach training conducted outside of the agency's jurisdiction, and is allowing military members returning from overseas an additional 90 days from their return date to renew their trainer authorization.
The agency will also require trainers to issue OSHA course completion cards to students within 90 days of class completion. Furthermore, trainers are now required to provide the card directly to the student, allowing students to have proof of training completion to display at any job site and help prevent organizations from withholding the card from a worker. OSHA has also added record requirements, imposed tougher advertising restrictions, and revised the rules for using guest trainers.
"These revisions will serve to tighten the program controls to ensure the best training is provided to the worker participants," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Trainer reliability will be enhanced and classes will focus more on fulfilling students' needs for safety and health training."
The content of the training classes has also been changed. All construction classes are required to include four hours on Focus Four Hazards. All 30-hour classes must include two hours on Managing Safety and Health. The new requirements and procedures also integrate recent requirements which require training classes to last a maximum of 7 ½ hours per day and include a new two-hour Introduction to OSHA training module.
The Outreach Training Program, a voluntary participation information resource, is part of OSHA's Directorate of Training and Education. The program comprises a national network of more than 17,000 independent trainers who teach workers and employers about OSHA, workers' rights and how to identify, avoid and prevent workplace hazards. There are 10- and 30-hour outreach classes for construction, general industry and maritime, and 15-hour classes for disaster site workers. Students who successfully complete classes receive completion cards.