Pioneering your own construction business can often require jumping over more hurdles than most other businesses, simply due to the hazards associated with the job. Aside from ensuring your business is licensed and insured, managers and entrepreneurs also need to face the grueling task of understanding and complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
Since 1970, OSHA has been protecting workers from potential harm in the workplace by providing a set of standards employers must meet in order to minimize risk and maximize productivity. Despite OSHA’s efforts, however, work-related injuries are at an all-time high as of the last decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries occurred in the US in 2016, the highest number since 2008.
Web-based OSHA training skyrockets
It’s no secret that work-related injuries are not only a traumatic experience for colleagues and employers, but are often tied to a myriad of costly and time-consuming investigations by the Workers’ Compensation department. With that in mind, more and more employers are not only attempting to familiarize themselves with OSHA standards as much as possible, but to educate their employees also.
In the last few years, more and more web-based OSHA training programs have taken over, with an increased number of managers requiring this training before solidifying employment, much like food handler’s certificates for the food industry or alcohol certification for bartenders. Due to the increased risk associated with the construction industry, the late implementation of these training requirements can be alarming.
Not only do these trainings contribute to an understanding of what chemicals are hazardous in the workplace, but they assist employees in identifying what kinds of gear and equipment are necessary to ensure job safety – knowledge that was not always readily available to manual laborers of the past, a fact reminiscent of the detrimental conditions coal miners often worked in.
Beyond general construction requirements
In addition to general construction safety, many web-based OSHA training programs provide Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) and Department of Transportation (DOT) preparation also. Considering the fact that transportation incidents accounted for 40 percent of the work-related fatalities in 2016, according to the BLS, DOT training has become exponentially crucial.
Truck drivers, hazmat workers, and waste collectors are just a few job titles that benefit from the aforementioned training programs.
Asbestos exposure, cargo securement, and maneuvering of commercial-sized vehicles are some of the topics covered in most HAZWOPER and DOT training programs.
Finding the right online programs
In 2011, OSHA introduced its Outreach Training Program, in which it aimed to seek out high-quality web-based safety courses and authorize them as a legitimate provider of OSHA training. Although a competitive process, it helped to weed out some of the unfavorable options. Therefore, employers and employees alike will want to ensure online courses they find are accepted by this program.
This acceptance became particularly pertinent as the number of online trainees (as opposed to onsite trainees) has increased significantly over the last decade. Since 2008, the number of online trainees has increased fivefold, from 40,000 in 2008 to over 280,000 in 2017, according to OSHA.
The majority of these trainees were in the construction field and only participated in a 10-hour training, although many programs offer as long as 30-hour training sessions.
While it will still ultimately be up to employers to determine which programs they want their employees to participate in, the result of this requirement, in general, will undoubtedly have favorable results. Not only are there many affordable options, but participation in these programs will decrease liability issues and increase employee awareness. What’s more, the ease and accessibility of web-based safety training also acts as an incentive, one that the BLS numbers will hopefully soon reflect.
Ellie Batchiyska is a writer for Advance Online, the first web-based training provider to be accepted by the OSHA Outreach Program for DOL OSHA completion cards.