Back to Basics, Training

Back to Basics: OSHA Training Requirements

Back to Basics is a weekly feature that highlights important but possibly overlooked information that any EHS professional should know. This week, we outline the annual OSHA training requirements for employers to remain compliant.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to comply with their training requirements in the workplace, which can include both initial training and refresher training that must take place annually. According to OSHA, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace. OSHA also states that training workers to do their jobs safely is an investment that will yield fewer injuries and illnesses, better morale, lower insurance premiums, and more.

Basic standards

OSHA has compiled a booklet of all the training requirements for its specific standards in each type of industry. Within this booklet, OSHA’s standards are organized into five main categories: General Industry, Maritime, Construction, Agriculture, and Federal Employment Programs. Each of these sections contains a wide array of subcategories and subjects, all with more specific information. OSHA clearly lays out what kinds of training employers need to implement, the minimum elements of each plan, and the frequency at which employers must train employees on the subject.

OSHA also requires training in an injury and illness prevention program to help prevent workplace hazards before employees get hurt. OSHA believes that all employers can and should manage safety using these programs, which should encompass management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement. OSHA defines injury and illness prevention programs as systems that can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries and illnesses while reducing costs to employers. Thirty-four states have requirements or voluntary guidelines for these programs, according to OSHA.

Employees should be participating in injury and illness prevention because they can identify missing safety procedures and make recommendations for changes, which can help ensure a safer workplace. OSHA also highly recommends documenting all health and safety training to assist in potential future investigations that could arise.

State plans

While OSHA covers most private sector employers throughout the United States and other U.S. jurisdictions, some states already have specific OSHA-approved job safety and health programs operated by the individual state instead of federal OSHA. All state plans are approved and monitored by OSHA, and OSHA may provide as much as 50% of the funding for each program. The list of states and territories with these programs is as follows:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

State and local government agency workers are not covered by federal OSHA, but have OSH Act protections if they work in these states. Some states also have OSHA-approved plans that cover public sector workers only. OSHA’s protection applies to all federal agencies, and they must have safety and health programs that meet the same standards as private employers. The self-employed, immediate family members, and farm employers are not covered under the OSH Act.  

OSHA has many resources on its website and outreach programs to help employers remain in compliance. Click here for more training tools and resources, including how to become a trainer, and read the booklet for all industry specific training requirements.