OSHA chief David Michaels

OSHA Chief Concerned Oil Spill Workers Being Short Shrifted on Training

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels today said the administration has received reports that Gulf Coast oil spill clean-up workers are not receiving proper training. In response, he issued the following statement:

"Employees hired to be supervisors in the onshore and marine cleanup are required to receive extensive training. A rigorous 40-hour program is required under OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operation and Emergency Response Standard.

"In order to meet the certifications of this 40-hour training, a combination of classroom and hands-on, applicable experience is required. This includes instruction on the makeup and risks associated with the hazardous material(s) involved, and experience with the equipment needed for the work, safety gear and local environment.

"We have received reports that some are offering this training in significantly less than 40 hours, showing video presentations and offering only limited instruction. This training cannot be shortened to anything less than 40 hours. Moreover, computer-based training, which could be offered over the Internet, can be used as part of an overall 40-hour HAZWOPER training course. However, such training alone does not meet the full course requirements.

"OSHA also recommends that the trainer-to-student ratio for this type of training be one trainer for every 30 students in the class.

"If a worker feels the training he or she received by a private company or organization does not meet the HAZWOPER training requirements, he or she may contact the closest OSHA area office to file a complaint or call 800-321-OSHA (6742) for more information."

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