Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published a "Watch List" of safety trainers whose authorizations have either been revoked or suspended.More than 16,000 independent trainers are eligible to host trainings. The agency hopes the published list will strengthen its Outreach Training Program by exposing and preventing fraudulent activity.
Thirty-six years ago, OSHA established the Outreach Training Program as a way for workers to obtain instruction in basic occupational safety and health. Though primarily voluntary, 1.65 million workers received training through the program in the last three years. Of those trained, 80 percent were in the construction business.
Authorized trainers must meet several criteria, including five years of experience in the safety and health fields, and complete a train-the-trainer course conducted by the OSHA Training Institute in Illinois. Trainers may select either the Construction or General Industry course and receive certification to lead either a 10-hour or 30-hour training session. Despite the qualification and certification requirements, OSHA needs continued protocols to regulate the quality of training that reaches participating workers.
According to Jordan Barab, acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, "The use of independent trainers has allowed OSHA to significantly extend its training capabilities, but OSHA will not tolerate fraudulent activity or unscrupulous trainers when workers' health and lives may be at stake." Recent legislation in several states requires workers in select occupations to complete the training program. The agency has experienced a rise in fraudulent practices following the inception of these legal requirements.
To regulate compliance, OSHA has increased unannounced audits to verify that trainers follow established protocol. One such undercover investigation exposed the submission of records which falsified the time spent on required topics, as well as improper instructions to not contact OSHA to report hazards. "A tighter record-control procedure has been instituted requiring trainers to sign their reports and certify the class was conducted in accordance with OSHA's guidelines," reported Barab. "Trainers face civil and criminal penalties under federal law if reports or certifications are found to have been falsified."