Agency targets fraudulent trainers by strengthening outreach program
The Outreach Training Program is a voluntary initiative that has grown into a national network of more than 16,000 independent trainers who are eligible to teach workers and employers about workplace hazards and to provide OSHA 10-hour course completion cards. However, agency officials claim some trainers are not providing training in accordance with the program. To crack down on program violators, OSHA is improving how trainers become authorized to teach and ensuring that those trainers are in compliance with agency guidelines.
"The use of independent trainers has allowed OSHA to significantly extend its training capabilities," said Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary of labor for the agency. "But OSHA will not tolerate fraudulent activity or unscrupulous trainers when workers' health and lives may be at stake."
Trainers become authorized by completing a one-week course through an OSHA Training Institute Education Center. The trainers are then eligible to teach 10-hour programs that provide workers and employers with basic information about workplace hazards and OSHA, and 30-hour courses in construction, maritime and general industry safety and health hazards. The program's success has prompted some states and cities to require workers to complete training in order to earn an OSHA 10-hour card as a condition of employment. Because of this, Barab said, the program has experienced fraudulent activity.
OSHA has increased unannounced monitoring visits to verify that trainers are in compliance with program requirements. In addition, the agency has developed a process for investigating and adjudicating complaints, and created a "watch list" of outreach trainers who have received disciplinary action that will be posted on OSHA's Web site.
The agency also began implementing other changes last year. These changes include requiring trainers to certify their classes and ensuring that training documentation is in accordance with OSHA's guidelines before trainers can receive course completion cards. Outreach training program courses have also been revised to ensure more rigorous exams for authorizing new trainers. In addition, OSHA is developing an ethics module that will be added to all trainer courses.
"Strengthening the integrity of the Outreach Training Program will help ensure that workers receive quality training, help them gain employment, and return them home safely at the end of their workday," Barab said.
Officials said OSHA will continue to refer fraudulent activity to the Labor Department's Office of Inspector General. Trainers caught falsifying information will be subject to criminal prosecution.
June 29, 2009
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