Is Your Safety Trainer OSHA-Authorized?

If you hire or employ a trainer to round out your comprehensive safety training program, make sure that your trainer is OSHA-authorized. Otherwise, why spend the money?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently revised the guidelines for its Outreach Training Program and provided separate industry procedures for construction, general industry, maritime, and disaster site workers. Although the Outreach Training Program is voluntary, through it your workers can attend 10-hour or 30-hour classes delivered by OSHA-authorized trainers. Today we will explore what it takes to be an OSHA-authorized trainer for general industry.

Note: OSHA emphasizes that this is a voluntary program and does not meet the training requirements for any OSHA standards. Although some states, municipalities, or others may require outreach training as a condition of employment, it is not an OSHA requirement. None of the courses within the Outreach Training Program is considered a certification. However, authorized trainers may receive OSHA course completion cards for their students.

Prerequisites and then Some

In order to be OSHA-authorized, a general industry trainer must meet separate prerequisites for experience and training. One prerequisite may not be substituted to fulfill the other. There are no waivers for either the experience or training prerequisites.

Experience. A general industry trainer must have 5 years of general industry safety experience. A college degree in occupational safety and health, a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), or Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) designation may be substituted for 2 years of experience.

Training. A general industry trainer must complete OSHA course #511, Occupational Safety and Health Standards for General Industry. This course covers OSHA policies, procedures, and standards, as well as general industry safety and health principles.

General industry trainers who have fulfilled the prerequisites, must then complete OSHA course #501, Trainer Course in OSHA Standards for General Industry. This course places special emphasis on those topics that are required in the 10- and 30-hour programs as well as those that are the most hazardous. This course also provides instruction on effective instructional approaches and the effective use of visual aids and handouts.

Note to EHS managers: Trainers who successfully complete course #501 will receive an “Authorized General Industry Trainer Card.” Ask to see it.

How Long Is It Good For?

General Industry outreach trainers are authorized by OSHA for 4 years. Before the expiration of their authorization status, authorized trainers must take OSHA course #503, Update for General Industry Outreach Trainers, to renew their authorization for another 4 years. If your trainer lets that card expires, he or she will have to retake Course #501 to become reauthorized as a trainer.