Does Your Training Content and Software Align with OSHA Regulations?

Does Your Training Content and Software Align with OSHA Regulations?

Effective workplace training should include the right training software and content to ensure compliance and enhance workplace safety.

Just like with any governing body, understanding and addressing OSHA requirements can feel daunting. After all, they have published nearly 1,000 standards across four main categories: Construction, Maritime, Agriculture and General Industry.

In many cases, an OSHA regulation is straightforward regarding what is required, but when it comes to employer-provided safety training, things can get a little unclear. There are currently more than 100 OSHA standards where training is required — and things are not consistent from one to another.

Keep reading to learn about some of the different nuances of OSHA requirements and how to identify the right training software and training content that will help you meet — and even exceed — your training needs.

Understanding the Nuances of OSHA Requirements

As noted above, with so many different regulations on the books, it can seem overwhelming. But there are some nuances you should understand when looking into the various safety regulations and OSHA training requirements:

Industry specificity: OSHA regulations are not a one-size solution. They are categorized into different industries, with specific standards for construction, general industry, maritime, and more. Identifying the regulations specific to your industry is the best place to start.

Hazard recognition: Safety hazards are an inherent part of every job, from ergonomic hazards to falling hazards to chemical hazards and more. Of course, some jobs present more serious risks than others. Hazard recognition helps you identify the specific hazards in your workplace.

Frequency: Requirements regarding the frequency of training vary based on the standard and type of hazard. The terms you will see when reviewing OSHA standards include: 

- At hire

- Before exposure to a hazard

- At a certain frequency (often annually)

- “If-then” frequencies (a typical example of this is when there is an incident or situation where the worker displays lack of knowledge, then training or retraining is required)

Updates and changes: OSHA regulations are constantly evolving to keep up with changing work hazards and environments. Keeping your training updated to meet the current standards is essential to avoid non-compliance.

Training records: To determine what training records to maintain, you will need to look up the specific OSHA standard. If a standard has record documentation requirements, they will be listed in the regulations.

If you are ever unsure about where to start with meeting OSHA training requirements — or are considering a review and refresh of your existing training — it is smart to complete a training needs assessment. This useful tool can help you bridge the gap between your current training and OSHA requirements or recommendations. 

Generally, this process will identify business needs and provide you with a training plan of required and suggested training topics or categories, connecting the dots between your workforce training program and what the law requires.

What Makes Good Online Training Software?

Once you have decided that training software is the right direction to meet your training needs, you will need to find the best one for you and your organization. With hundreds of online training platforms available, it can feel overwhelming to assess and make this decision. Here are a few different features and content considerations to keep in mind as you begin this important evaluation process.

Content availability: Look for software with a comprehensive library of OSHA-compliant courses that aligns with your specific industry standards and addresses the relevant hazards your employees face.

Accessibility and scalability: Employees should be able to complete their training on various devices and from any working location, whether that is in the office or on a remote jobsite. Scalability will allow the software to accommodate a growing workforce or changing training needs. 

Employee engagement: Effective training goes beyond simply providing information. It should actively engage employees, encouraging knowledge retention and application of safety practices. Look for software that utilizes interactive elements, simulations, and gamification to keep employees engaged.

Compliance updates: One of the most important aspects of any training course is that the information is current to applicable regulations, laws, and best practices. The best training partners will make sure their content is up to date to meet ever-changing regulatory requirements and use subject matter experts with real-word experience to accomplish this.

Allows for easy retraining: Repeated learning opportunities increase the likelihood of retaining the information, which makes for a more effective employee. When it comes to safety training, repetition may be even more important than for other categories of training because an employee’s life could be at risk. 

Course tools: No library of courses can meet every training need for your organization. It is essential for any training platform to include course development tools that allow you to easily build and load your own training content to deliver and track in the same system as pre-built content.

Reporting and analytics: Choose a software partner that offers you the ability to track and review detailed data on employee progress, knowledge retention, and potential areas for improvement.

Safety and Compliance Beyond OSHA

While this article focused on OSHA regulations, it is important to remember that federal OSHA is not the only regulatory body you must keep in mind when creating a comprehensive and compliant safety training program. If you live in a state-plan state, your state might require training or other documentation beyond federal OSHA standards. Your municipality, state, county, or insurance carrier might also require or recommend additional employee training topics. It’s also important to review training frequency on additional or OSHA required topics; your state might require a frequency of training beyond OSHA regulations.

Do not forget to review other sources of regulatory requirements in addition to federal OSHA standards. Your employer will thank you later.

Exceed Your Training Needs

While ensuring you and your employees are compliant with OSHA and other regulatory bodies, when it comes to training, it is wise to even go beyond compliance. Do not just meet the minimum training requirements. Instead, create a strong company culture that puts an emphasis on safety.

OSHA and other experts are currently pushing for a change to the traditional view of “safety culture” as separate from a company’s organizational culture. They advocate for safety as a core value and encourage EHS professionals and organizations to look at “how to strengthen organizational culture to be inclusive of safety.” The right training software can help you incorporate safety into your organizational culture because it holds everyone accountable for knowing your safety hazards and — more importantly — knowing how to avoid or mitigate those risks.

Additionally, by offering safety training that goes beyond what OSHA suggests, you allow your employees to gain a better understanding of potential hazards and feel more confident in knowing they are capable of protecting themselves and others on their jobsite.

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2024 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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