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OSHA Compliance Training Guide

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,679 workers were killed on the job in America in 2014, which equates to 90 workers being killed every week, and 13 work-related deaths occurring every single day. More than 20 percent of these deaths, or 874 of them, occurred in the construction industry. Approximately 58 percent of these construction-related deaths were caused by one of the following four occurrences:

  • Falls: 349 deaths, 39.9 percent of the 874 construction-related deaths
  • Electrocutions: 74 deaths, 8.5 percent of total
  • Struck by object: 73 deaths, 8.4 percent of total
  • Caught in-between or in an object: 12 deaths, 1.4 percent of total

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that eliminating the four hazards listed above from constructions sites throughout the United States would save the lives of 508 workers every year.

Passed by Congress nearly 50 years ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was drafted by lawmakers:

…To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health; and for other purposes.

Since the act became law, OSHA and its state partners have been successful with dramatically improving workplace safety in the United States. While the number of people in the nation’s labor force has nearly doubled since 1970, the number of work-related fatalities has dropped by 66 percent, and the number of injuries and illnesses that occur on the job has been reduced by 67 percent.

Required OSHA Annual Training by Technical Skills Development

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration employs approximately 2,200 people who inspect businesses to ensure they are operating in compliance with OSHA regulations and guidelines. If your facility is in violation of a federal regulation or, if your business operates in a state which enforces its own workplace safety standards and you fail to satisfy them, your business may have to pay costly fines. In an average year, OSHA issues more than 40,000 citations to employers who violate the agency’s regulations, with some of them costing business owners thousands of dollars.

As recently as 2010, OSHA increased the amount companies must pay for severe violations of OSHA’s electrical safety rules from $1,000 to between $3,000 and $4,000. Sadly, one of the most expensive violations businesses often receive fines for, a lack of or insufficient employee training, is also one of the easiest to avoid. OSHA estimates your business will save between $4 and $6 for every $1 you invest in a workplace safety and health program, employee safety training and adhering to the relevant OSHA or state guidelines are also cost-effective ways to lower your operational costs, increase production and improve employee morale.

If you need to provide OSHA required annual training to your employees to remain in compliance with OSHA regulations, contact Technical Skills Development. For nearly 15 years, we have been providing customized electrical safety training that is designed for both your qualified and unqualified workers. In 2012, we partnered with Vista College in order to expand the number of companies we can help remain OSHA compliant.

Our classes are based on the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, and we tailor our educational programs to address the specific needs of your business and your employees to ensure you are in compliance with OSHA guidelines. We will create a customized, eight-hour training program for your employees which will be delivered in two four-hour sessions — the first session being held in the morning and the second one being conducted later in the afternoon.

Your qualified workers will attend both sessions, while your unqualified employees will only attend the morning session. At the end of our training program, your employees will receive a certificate proving that they received the required training and that you satisfied the educational requirements dictated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA requires that electrical hazard safety training be conducted on-site. This means we will arrive at your facility with everything necessary for your employees to get the potentially life-saving training they need on the day that is the most convenient for you and your team. The only things you need to supply for us to deliver our training program successfully are students, a classroom or space where distractions are kept to a minimum and a surface we can project images on.

Our comprehensive training program includes discussion of the following topics, among others:

  • Defining and identifying arc flash and shock hazards
  • Insight into determining the intensity of arc flashes
  • Selecting and using the right voltage meter (hands-on demonstrations)
  • Determining the correct arc flash and shock boundaries
  • Understanding and following arc flash labels
  • Understanding and following NFPA 70E tables
  • Identifying and choosing the correct PPE (hands-on demonstrations)

OSHA Compliance by Industry Segment

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their representatives. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration exists to ensure employers of all sizes comply with this requirement by adhering to general and sometimes industry-specific regulations. According to OSHA’s publication, “Training Requirements in OSHA Standards,” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s mission is:

“To ensure the protection of workers and prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”

The standards OSHA has identified as necessary for you to maintain a safe and healthful work environment are updated regularly, which can make remaining in compliance with them difficult, particularly if you are unaware that a change affecting your industry has been made.

Visiting OSHA’s website often and participating in OSHA’s free, on-site consultation program can help you stay abreast of the employee safety training standards you need to satisfy. Working with a third-party such as Technical Skills Development that has the experience and knowledge necessary for your employees to get the OSHA required annual training they need will also help you to remain in compliance with OSHA regulations.

The OSHA compliance training you’ll need to provide for your employees includes, but is not limited to the following, broken down by industry segment:

  • General Industry: If your business falls under the category of general industry, you must develop an emergency plan and train designated employees to assist others with evacuating their workplace in a safe, orderly manner in the event that a crisis occurs. If you employ more than 10 people, OSHA requires your emergency plan to be in writing. If you have 10 employees or less, you can relay your company’s emergency plan to your staff verbally. You also must have a fire prevention plan and educate your employees about the components of the plan they need to be familiar with for their own self-protection.

If you use powered platforms, manlifts or vehicle-powered work platforms in your facility, the employees who operate them need specific instruction about certain things, including recognizing and preventing hazards related to their work tasks, daily work procedures, using this equipment safely and inspecting the equipment properly. Employees who work on work platforms must also be taught to use a personal fall arrest system properly and safely. When something related to the system changes, you’ll need to retrain the relevant employees.

If you have employees who are exposed to noise equal to or exceeding an eight-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires you to provide a hearing conservation training program annually. This OSHA standard must be posted in your workplace, and copies of it should be readily available for the appropriate employees and/or their representatives.

If your business involves transporting hazardous materials such as explosives or blasting agents, the drivers responsible for moving these materials must be thoroughly knowledgeable about what they are transporting, how to handle the materials and how to protect themselves and the public from the inherent dangers involved with moving them.

When hazardous chemicals are involved, you must provide training for everyone involved with each step of processing the substances at least once every three years. Your training should highlight the safety and health hazards that come with working with these materials, emergency procedures including a discussion of shutdown policies and safe work practices relevant to your employees’ work responsibilities.

Management and supervisors who are either directly responsible for the handling of hazardous waste or who oversee employees who handle this material must undergo 40 hours of initial training, three days of supervised field experience and a minimum of eight hours of specialized training when they receive their initial work assignment. They will also need eight hours of refresher training every year as well.

  • Maritime: If your company is considered a maritime business entity, you’ll need to provide training for your employees in many subjects, including entering confined or enclosed spaces and dangerous atmospheres. Your training program for this topic should include the following:
    • Recognizing the characteristics of a confined work space
    • Anticipating and being aware of the dangers employees may face while entering one of these spaces
    • Identifying the negative health effects that can be caused by being exposed to such a hazard
    • Recognizing the physical symptoms and reactions that can present themselves when exposure to a hazard occurs
    • Knowing the personal protective equipment that is necessary to enter and exit one of these spaces safely
    • Using the personal protective equipment your employees need to work safely in these areas
  • Construction:  If you’re in the construction industry, it is your responsibility to take advantage of the health and employee safety training programs that OSHA makes available to employers in this field. You must also educate your employees to recognize and avoid unsafe work conditions and know the regulations relevant to eliminating workplace hazards and exposure to illnesses or injuries.

You must also train the employees responsible for safely handling poisons, caustics or other dangerous materials. Employees must also learn about the hazards that are inherent with working with these materials as well as the personal grooming and protective measures that are necessary to work with these substances safely.

As it is in the maritime industry, you are required to train your employees about entering and exiting confined spaces as well. You must comply with all OSHA regulations that are relevant to working in dangerous areas, too.

To be OSHA compliant, you also need to have an emergency action plan that designates particular individuals as responsible for helping others evacuate your premises in a safe and orderly fashion when a crisis takes place. You will need to re-educate your employees about your emergency plan whenever a change is made to it, and you must also establish a hearing conservation training program for your employees if the sound in your facility exceeds volumes identified by OSHA.

  • Agriculture: If you’re in the agriculture business, OSHA mandates that you provide your employees with training on how to use covered equipment, meaning your farm field equipment, farmstead equipment and cotton gins, when they initially receive their work assignments. You must also provide training at least once per year thereafter.

Your training program should cover the following topics, among others:

    • Keeping guards in place when a machine is being operated
    • Stopping the engine, disconnecting the power and waiting for a piece of equipment’s moving parts to come to a halt before servicing a machine
    • Ensuring everyone is clear of the equipment prior to turning its engine on, applying power or operating the machine in any way
  • Federal Employee Programs: According to OSHA, federal agencies are required to provide orientation and other learning opportunities so management can effectively keep track of safety and health programs. Supervisory training in federal agencies is designed to include basic and specialized instruction geared toward enabling supervisors to identify and minimize or eradicate occupational safety and health hazards within their workplaces. Such training will also include lessons about how to train and encourage federal employees to adopt safe and healthful work practices.

OSHA Compliance for Small Business

Even if you own a small business, you are still normally required to comply with OSHA’s workplace regulations and guidelines or your state’s guidelines which will be “at least as effective” as OSHA’s. If you fail to do so, you risk being fined just like bigger businesses do.

Fortunately, OSHA has made the following tools available for small business owners to help them comply with the requisite guidelines:

  • Training: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration awards financial grants to non-profit organizations which are used to create programs and materials to help small business owners implement health and safety programs in their locations.
  • Mentoring: OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs match small business owners with mentor companies that share useful, practical advice about their own safety and health experiences and programs.
  • E-Tools: OSHA posts its workplace standards and has interactive software, compliance materials and e-tools on its website, and this can help business owners get and remain in compliance with OSHA’s regulations. You can also order helpful print materials by visiting the OSHA website.

Although many tools are available for you to use, certain things that have to be done to remain compliant with OSHA simply cannot be done over the Internet or a phone line. One such thing is electrical safety training. If you’re in an industry in which this type of training is required, we encourage you to contact Technical Skills Development today. We’ll deliver an on-site, customized training program for you and your employees which satisfies OSHA’s requirements in this subject area. Call us today to learn more!