On July 9, 2015, OSHA released new guidance on the enforcement of the Hazard Communication Standard for workplace inspectors.  This is an excellent resource for employers to review.  It details what inspectors will be looking for when they tour your facility. 


Buried deep in the instruction is a statement about the effectiveness of online courses for meeting OSHA standards.  

A self-paced, interactive computer-based training can serve as a valuable training tool in the context of an over-all hazard communication training program. However, use of computer-based training by itself would not be sufficient to meet the intent of the standard's various training requirements.

The Proper Use of Online Safety Training

OSHA makes it clear that online courses can be an effective and valuable training tool. However, they are only an arrow in a quiver of training techniques. Online training must be coupled with hands on practice and instruction from a competent person. Since we are discussing Hazard Communication, let's take a look at how online courses can be effectively integrated into a training program.

  1. A Hazard Communication with GHS online course is assigned to employees.
  2. Employees complete the online course and pass the exam.
  3. Employee reports to their supervisor, and asks any questions they have about the training.
  4. Supervisor walks employees through the specific hazards in the workplace, labeling requirements, and all the physical and health hazards present, including a review of the relevant SDSs.
  5. Supervisor observes the employee performing work and safely managing hazards in accordance with the HazCom program. Supervisor signs off on the successful completion of each requirement in a hands on certification form.
  6. Supervisor certifies that employee is fully trained and can work safely on their own.

Safety DVDs Also Require Blended Training 

Employers frequently decide to solely use safety DVDs for training compliance, but this presents many of the same problems as online courses.  If you place employees in front of a screen for 30 minutes, and then have them complete a quiz, they may get a basic understanding of the regulations, but they will still need workplace specific training.  "Just Push Play" safety training will receive the same scrutiny from OSHA as online courses do.

Need Help Choosing A Training Method?

Every workplace is different, and every workplace has different training needs.  If you need assistance with a training method and training curriculum, let us know.  We are happy to help.



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