OSHA: Spill Workers May Not Be Getting the Training They Need

July 9, 2010

Federal regulators are investigating complaints that several companies are providing inadequate training to supervisors of Gulf cleanup workers, The Associated Press reports.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it has received reports that some of the companies offering to train supervisors aren’t making them do the mandatory 40 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction in handling hazardous materials.

OSHA also is investigating complaints that several companies are promising to secure jobs for prospective supervisors. But there are about 10 complaints from workers who say their training certificates were withheld.

“In order to meet the certifications of this 40-hour training, a combination of classroom and hands-on, applicable experience is required. This includes instruction on the makeup and risks associated with the hazardous material(s) involved, and experience with the equipment needed for the work, safety gear and local environment,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a message released by the agency.

“We have received reports that some are offering this training in significantly less than 40 hours, showing video presentations and offering only limited instruction,” he added. “This training cannot be shortened to anything less than 40 hours.”

Michaels noted that computer-based training that may be offered online can be sued as part of the training, but that ” such training alone does not meet the full course requirements.”

He said OSHA “recommends that the trainer-to-student ratio for this type of training be one trainer for every 30 students in the class.”

Sources: OSHA, Associated Press

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