The federal Occupational
Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) has many
safety and health training requirements, including the following:
• Emergency plan. Before implementing
an emergency action plan, employers must designate and train a sufficient
number of people to assist in the safe and orderly emergency evacuation
• Fire hazards. Employers must make
known to employees the fire hazards of the materials and processes
to which they are exposed.
• Hearing protectors. Employers must
provide training in the use and care of all hearing protectors provided
• Processes and operations. Each employee
presently involved in operating a process, or before operating a newly
assigned process, must be trained in the operating procedures, with
emphasis on the specific safety and health hazards, emergency operations
including shutdown, and safe work practices applicable to the employee's
job tasks. Alternatively, an employer may certify in writing that
the employee has the required knowledge, skills, and abilities to
safely carry out the duties and responsibilities as specified in the
operating procedures. Refresher training must be provided at least
every 3 years, and more often if necessary, to each employee involved
in operating a process to ensure that the employee understands and
adheres to the current operating procedures of the process. The employer,
in consultation with the employees involved in operating the process,
will determine the appropriate frequency of refresher training. The
employer must ascertain that each employee involved in operating a
process has received and understood the required training. The employer
must prepare a record that contains the identity of the employee,
the date of training, and the means used to verify that the employee
understood the training.
• Personal protective equipment (PPE). Employers must train each worker who is required to use PPE. Training
must cover, at a minimum, what PPE is necessary; when it is necessary;
how to wear, use, and adjust the particular PPE; its proper care,
maintenance, useful life, and disposal; and its limitations. If an
employee who has already been trained does not appear to have a good
understanding, the person must be retrained. The employer must certify
in writing that each employee has received and understood the required
training and include the employee’s name, the date of the training,
and the subject of the certification.
• Respirators. Employees using respirators
in their jobs must be trained in procedures to ensure adequate air
quality, quantity, and flow of breathing air for atmosphere-supplying
respirators. Training should also cover the respiratory hazards to
which workers are potentially exposed during routine and emergency
situations, and the proper use, maintenance, and limitations of respirators.
Employees must be retrained when there are changes in the respirator
or workplace, inadequacies in the employee’s knowledge, or when retraining
is necessary to ensure safe respirator use.
• Bloodborne pathogens. Employees with occupational exposure or potential
exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials must be
trained before initial assignment and annually thereafter on bloodborne
diseases, modes of transmission, and prevention methods including
the use of PPE. Employees must be given access to the bloodborne pathogens
standard and the employer’s exposure control plan.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health
Act's (OSH Act) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires
employers to provide employees with information and training on hazardous
chemicals in their work area. The training must be given at the time
of the initial assignment and whenever a new hazard is introduced
into the work area. The OSH Act's requirements for employee information
and training are flexible, allowing a company to design a program
tailored to its needs and operations. At a minimum, the training must
cover the following:
• The location of workplace areas where hazardous chemicals
are present and where the workplace chemical list, safety data sheets
(SDSs), and the written communications program are kept
• How the hazard communication program is implemented,
how to read and interpret labels and SDSs, and how employees can obtain
and use available hazard information
• How workers can detect the presence of hazardous chemicals
(e.g., visual appearance, smell); their physical and health hazards;
and protective measures employees can take, including specific protective
procedures the employer is providing such as engineering controls,
work practices, and personal protective equipment
Information and training must be specific to the kinds
of hazards present in the workplace and the particular protective
equipment, measures, and procedures that are necessary. General training
or a general discussion of hazardous chemicals, for example, is not
enough. This is a critical part of the HCS, and if an inspector concludes
that training is inadequate, a more rigorous review of the company's
entire compliance program will probably follow.
OSHA has revised the HCS to align U.S. worker right-to-know
requirements with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of
Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, or GHS. The changes reduce
confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace and improve safety
training and worker understanding of chemical hazards through improved
chemical labeling and 16-section safety data sheets (SDSs). The SDSs
replace material safety data sheets (MSDSs).
Employers were required to conduct employee training
on how to read and interpret new GHS-compliant labels and SDSs by
December 1, 2013. By December 1, 2015, all chemical manufacturers,
importers, and distributors were required to ensure that all of their
shipped products included GHS-compliant labels and SDSs.
Employers that use, handle, and store chemicals had until
June 1, 2016, to make any necessary updates to their written hazard
communication programs and in-house labeling. Also by June 1, 2016,
these employers were required to conduct employee training on any
newly identified hazards of the chemicals in use at their facilities.
However, many employers are just now receiving updated SDSs from chemical
suppliers. As SDSs continue to arrive and replace older MSDSs, employers
should compare them to the previous version to determine if any new
hazards have been identified that require additional employee training.
Worker right-to-know state laws. States with OSHA-approved state
safety and health regulatory programs have added OSHA’s GHS amendments
to their hazard communication standards. Twenty-one states and Puerto
Rico have OSHA-approved programs that regulate private (private businesses
and nonprofit organizations) and public (state and local governments)
sector workplaces, and five states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved programs
that regulate public sector workplaces only. Some states have adopted
their own hazard communication rules that are stricter than federal
requirements. See the relevant state Hazard Communication Standard
analysis for updates.
Under Federal Sentencing Guidelines, employers are able
to reduce the fines imposed on them for the criminal acts of their
employees by providing their employees at every level within the company,
as well as agents of the company, with compliance and ethics training
in order to demonstrate an effective compliance and ethics program.
Training was not always a required element of an effective compliance
and ethics program. The current guidelines have rigorously toughened
the requirements for companies to reduce their fines if even one of
their employees is guilty of criminal misconduct.
Whenever an employee commits a criminal act within the
scope of his or her employment, the organization as a whole can be
held criminally liable for that act. Companies can face hefty fines
and probation for a period of up to 5 years; can be forced to pay
back victims of the their employees' criminal activities, apologize
to the victims, and post public notices of the conviction; and have
property used in the commission of, or acquired from the proceeds
of, criminal activity seized by the government. According to the Federal
Sentencing Commission, an organization that has an effective compliance
and ethics program can reduce its fines for a criminal conviction
by as much as 90 percent.
The Federal Sentencing Commission states that the Federal
Sentencing Guidelines apply to “all organizations whether publicly
or privately held, and of whatever nature, such as corporations, partnerships,
labor unions, pension funds, trusts, nonprofit entities, and governmental
The Federal Sentencing guidelines outline seven steps
an employer must take to have an effective compliance and ethics program:
1. An organization must establish standards and procedures
for preventing and detecting criminal conduct.
2. An organization’s high-level personnel must be knowledgeable
about and oversee the content, implementation, operation, and effectiveness
of the program.
3. An organization must take reasonable efforts to avoid
giving substantial authority to an individual who the organization
knew, or should have known, has engaged in criminal activity or other
conduct inconsistent with an effective ethics program.
4. An organization must take reasonable measures to periodically
conduct training programs for and disseminate information to the organization’s
governing authority, high-level personnel, employees, and agents.
5. An organization must monitor and audit for criminal
activity, periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the program,
and create and communicate procedures for employees and agents to
report criminal activity without fear of retaliation.
6. An organization must provide incentives to comply with
the program and enforce disciplinary measures for engaging in criminal
conduct or failing to prevent or detect criminal conduct.
7. An organization must respond appropriately to criminal
conduct and modify the compliance and ethics program, if needed, to
prevent further criminal conduct.