Tuesday, August 2, 2011

OSHA Training – The “Hidden” Requirements

Do me a favor. Close your eyes for a few seconds and see how many OSHA regulations you can think of that include the phrase “the employer shall train employees . . . ” or substantially similar language. 

. . .   waiting 30 seconds . . .

Okay. For you readers who are involved with general industry operations, several OSHA standards probably came to mind, such as but not limited to PPE, hazard communication, portable fire extinguishers, hearing protection, confined space entry, lockout/tagout, respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogens, forklift operator, and probably a few more.  And you readers who deal with construction regulations also probably thought of fall protection, scaffolding, stairways and ladders, and a few others. 

In fact, these topics and a few more, where applicable, are no doubt included in your new employee orientations and regularly scheduled safety meetings. However, there are many OSHA standards that, while not containing language specifically requiring the employer to provide “training” for the employee, do contain verbiage that implies the employer must insure affected employee are knowledgeable about certain topics.

So be on the lookout for “trigger” words and phrases such as; “. . . the employer shall inform . . .”, “employees shall be instructed . . .”, or, “. . .  only authorized employees . . .” in the OSHA standards, as they could mean you need to provide some level of information or training to affected workers. 

Here are but a few specific examples of what I am describing in the OSHA standards:

·         In the injury/illness recordkeeping standards, 1904.35(a)(1) states – “You must inform each employee of how he or she is to report an injury or illness to you.”

·         In the general industry standards for emergency action plans, 1910.38(a)(ii) states – “The employer shall review the plan with each employee covered by the plan at the following times . . . “

·         In the general industry standards for flammable and combustible materials storage in flood-prone areas, 1910.106(b)(5)(v)(3) states the employer must insure –  “ . . . station operators and other employees depended upon to carry out such instructions are thoroughly informed as to the location and operation of such valves and other equipment necessary to effect these requirements.”

·         In the general industry standards for telecommunications, 1910.268(b)(2)(i) states – “Employees assigned to work with storage batteries shall be instructed in emergency procedures such as dealing with accidental acid spills.”

·         In the construction standards for gas welding and cutting, 1926.350(d) states – “The employer shall thoroughly instruct employees in the safe use of fuel gas as follows . . . “.

·         In the construction standards for aerial lifts, 1926.453(b)(2)(ii) states – “Only authorized persons shall operate an aerial lift.”

·         In the construction standards for signaling, 1926.201(a)(2) states – “Signaling directions by flagmen shall conform to American National Standards Institute D6.1-1971, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.”

So what did all those standards have in common? They all indirectly required you to inform, train, or confirm training of affected employees on these topics. Sometimes that entails putting the worker through an OSHA training class (in house or out), or in some limited cases, merely posting specific information about things like your procedures to obtain employee medical and exposure records on the bulletin board. While the terms used are different, they all aim to achieve the same basic thing; a well-informed, prepared worker.

In addition to the previously-mentioned trigger words, other OSHA standards make it the employer’s responsibility to assign employees who are “certified,” “competent,” or “qualified”—meaning that they have probably had special previous training, in or out of the workplace.  For example;

·         In the construction standards for cranes and derricks, 1926.1501(a)(5) (recently redesignated from 1926.550) states – "The employer shall designate a competent person who shall inspect all machinery and equipment prior to each use, and during use, to make sure it is in safe operating condition."

The term “competent person” appears in several more OSHA construction standards (e.g.: Excavations, Scaffolding, Fall Protection . . .). You’ll also see references to a “qualified person”, or even a “registered engineer”; all terms that imply that person has received some level of advanced training or education.

So my point is simple; in this “Google it” society in which we live, look beyond “the employer shall train employees” when researching OSHA training requirements, and be on the lookout for those hidden “trigger” words we discussed. You may find you have some more training to do!

If you’re aware of some other specific OSHA standards that contain a hidden “trigger” word and would like to share them with others, please cite them by submitting a comment (link below). And please, pass a link to this blog along to others in your network who can benefit from this information.

Until next time - chose to be safe!  - Curtis Chambers, CSP - oshatraining.com


  1. All good information. However, I believe there is a typo in the first paragraph that significantly changes the meaning of the sentence. The first phrase in quotations reads, “the employee shall train employees . . . ”. I believe you meant "employer shall train....". Otherwise, there are no OSHA regs (that I'm aware of) where employees are required to train themselves.

  2. Whoops! Thanks for bring that typo to my attention, I'll fix it right away. CC

  3. Brian Gladhart, CIH, CSPWed Aug 03, 10:37:00 AM 2011

    Other OSHA standards requiring training include:

    29 CFR 1926.1101 and 29 CFR 1910.1001 The asbestos removal, maintenance and repair standards under both the OSHA Construction and the General Industry standards.

    Both standards aim employer-sponsored training specific to the tasks that shall be performed. For example, an employee removing cement-asbestos pipe sections will require one type of training (8-hour course specific to CA pipe and asbestos hazards) while another employee removing a sprayed-on textured ceiling material requires much more extensive training (AHERA C/S or O&M Course). The amount of training this employee receives will be dictated by the amount of asbestos-containing material that the employer will require to be abated or repaired (small-scale requires the 16-hr AHERA O&M while large scale will need the 40-hr AHERA C/S source).

  4. One of my favorite from the hidden gems to emphasize to my supervisor level trainees is that OSHA doesn't just require that you train 'em, you gotta make sure they're doing what you trained 'em to do:
    When the employer has reason to believe that an employee lacks the skill or understanding needed for safe work involving the erection, use or dismantling of scaffolds, the employer shall retrain each such employee so that the requisite proficiency is regained. Retraining is required in at least the following situations
    Where inadequacies in an affected employee's work involving scaffolds indicate that the employee has not retained the requisite proficiency

  5. Health and safety is the responsibility of both employer and employee. The Employer must provide a safe working environment for their employees, carrying out risk assessments and providing safety measures and precautions and giving employees procedures to follow.



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